FAMILY LAW/DIVORCE/CUSTODY

This is truly the most sensitive areas of the law. Usually emotions are very high between parties. Family law consists of several areas, including divorce, custody and adoption.

Divorce law is certainly the most common area of family law. Most litigants in Virginia file for divorce under the no-fault provisions. Although there are some fault based grounds (adultery, abandonment etc.) usually the no-fault divorce is much easier and less litigious. If you have no children with your spouse, and you have entered into a valid separation agreement, the waiting period to file for divorce is 6 months from separation. Alternatively, if you have children with your spouse or if you do not have a separation agreement, then you must wait 12 months from the date of your separation before filing for divorce.

For most individuals, the divorce is uncontested. If you are fortunate enough to be in this category, your divorce will be very affordable. However, if there is a contest between parties regarding custody or equitable distribution, then professional fees may be more modestly priced. If you are not in a simple uncontested divorce, generally the fight is over custody or who gets to live in the marital home. Many times these issues can be litigated immediately after separation. Although any decision of the Court may just be temporary, it could provide you with immediate relief and help the parties enter into a settlement agreement at the divorce proceedings.

Custody is also a very common area of family law. Generally custody deals with the custody of children. If you have children in common with your spouse, you can seek custody and support either through the Juvenile & Domestic Relations Court or through a Pendente Lite hearing in the Circuit Court before actually obtaining a divorce. The right jurisdictional Court will be discussed with you based on your situation. If you are not married to the other parent, generally you must go through the Juvenile & Domestic Relations Court for a determination of custody. However, the Circuit Court sits as an appellate Court over the Juvenile & Domestic Relations Court. For the most part, Custody and visitation orders are never final. The Court can always modify any previously entered order for good cause and in the best interest of the child. However, a Virginia Court will not modify a custody order of another state unless jurisdiction is transferred. This can occur, but is very fact specific.

Other areas of family law are much rarer, and if you have a specific need in these areas, then please make a consultation to discuss your issue as soon as possible. Many areas of family law have specific time limitations, and it is very important to preserve your rights as soon as possible. Please fill out the Domestic Case form which will provide me with the essential information to begin working on your case.

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