Family Law Articles

Civility at Child Custody Exchanges

Tensions may run high when divorced or separated parents exchange their child for visitation. They should do their best to avoid heated confrontation, especially threatening or violent behavior. In one recent Virginia case, a man was initially convicted of abducting the mother of his child by allegedly trapping her in his car during an argument […]

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Bankruptcy and Divorce

Spousal and child support debts are not subject to discharge (forgiven) in bankruptcy. However, other debts owed from the bankrupt spouse to the other may be discharged.  Consider a Virginia case where the Husband in chapter 13 bankruptcy still owned the Wife child support arrearages, but not a substantial lump sum payment on a home […]

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Child Custody: When the Custodial Parent Wants to Move

A custodial parent can move with the children but often with limitations. The court will look at the purpose of the move and whether it would substantially impair the non-custodial parent=s relationship with the children. The issue of relocation is made complicated by conflicting law, critical facts and jurisdictional considerations.

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Must the Less Wealthy Non-Custodial Spouse Pay Child Support?

The custodial parent=s assets and earning capacity cannot be the sole basis for a determination of child support. There are statutory guidelines which are presumptively proper that Virginia courts consider in determining child support awards, although deviations may be permissible. Moreover, a child support decision must be in the best interest of the children.

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Keeping Stock in Divorce

Like other assets, stock investments are presumed marital property if acquired during the marriage. It is up to a party to show that stock  which claimed “separate” is actually his or her separate property. This might be accomplished by Atracing@ the stock back to the party=s own separate funds.

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Equitable Distribution of Marital Business

The splitting of a marital business can be a major issue in divorce. Virginia courts will not necessarily find the parties equally entitled to it. Instead, it will consider a variety of factors presented by the divorcing parties. These factors might include the negative and positive contributions to the business and family during the marriage, […]

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Unlawful Entry/Trespass to See Child

Parents at odds with each other must remain sensible and exercise parental rights lawfully. The Virginia Court of Appeals recently confirmed that a man=s breaking into his ex-girlfriend=s home was not made lawful by his claim that he simply wanted to see his child. The court found it rational to conclude that the defendant, who […]

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Dividing Retirement Assets in Divorce

A couple=s retirement assets are often the biggest asset to be divided in a divorce. These include employer-based and non-employer based accounts. When facing divorce, here are some practical basics to keep in mind. All property in a divorce proceeding is presumed marital until proven otherwise. Courts determine whether a retirement account is marital property […]

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What is a “GAL” in child custody cases?

In Virginia, a GAL (guardian ad litem) is an attorney appointed at the court’s discretion to represent the best interests of the child. The GAL represents the child and not either parent. The GAL can conduct investigations, including interviews with people close to the child. The GAL participates in trial and can make a recommendation […]

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Determining and Modifying Child Custody/Visitation: Child’s Preference

The court must take into account the reasonable preferences of the child in determining custody and visitation if the court deems the child to be of reasonable intelligence, understanding, age and experience to express such a preference. However, the Virginia courts have further noted that although a child’s preference should be considered and given appropriate […]

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Modifying Child Custody/Visitation: Relocation

Can a custodial parent move far away with the child, even overseas? Sometimes. The court must consider factors such as the effect that the relocation will have on the child’s relationship with the non-custodial parent. However, the standard is the best interest of the child, not the best interest of either parent. Relocation cases are […]

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Modifying Child Custody/Visitation

When a child custody/visitation order is in place, a parent may seek to modify it by demonstrating that 1) a material change in circumstance has occurred and 2) that the modification is in the best interest of the child. The party seeking the modification has the burden of proving those two factors to a preponderance […]

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What is a Voidable Marriage?

Unlike a void marriage a voidable marriage is presumed to be legally valid until it is annulled by a judge pursuant to an annulment action. Examples of voidable marriages include those in which a party was incompetent at the time or marriage or a marriage made under fraud or duress. Recent case law also determined […]

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Noncompliance with Divorce Terms and Attorneys Fees

When a party fails to comply with a court order, the court may order him/her to pay the aggrieved party’s reasonable attorneys fees. In a recent divorce case in Fairfax, Virginia, the husband had to pay slightly over $18,000 to the wife to cover her cost of litigating his noncompliance with a marital settlement agreement […]

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Valid Marriage Requires Marriage Licence, followed by Solemnization

Virginia law requires a couple to obtain a marriage license, followed by solemnization, to contract a lawful marriage. If the couple holds their marriage ceremony without first obtaining a license, the marriage is voidable. Moreover, a couple who obtains a marriage license must hold their ceremony within 60 days, or the license becomes invalid. No […]

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Modifying Child Custody/Visitation: Abuse

One material change in circumstance that may warrant a modification of child custody or visitation is the occurrence of family abuse. Virginia law defines family abuse as “any act involving violence, force, or threat that results in bodily injury or places one in reasonable apprehension of death, sexual assault, or bodily injury and that is […]

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What is effect of a Voidable Marriage on Divorce Proceedings?

A husband recently discovered during divorce litigation that he and his wife were never lawfully married due to a licensing defect. He sought and was granted an annulment. As a result, the courts proceeded as though the parties were never married. For example, the wife could not longer receive spousal support and the parties’ marital […]

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Documentation Key in Divorce Issues

Courts base support and equitable distribution awards (who gets what) on the evidence presented by the parties of the divorce. Necessary evidence includes thorough and accurate documentation of the parties’ respective incomes and financial account balances. Insufficient documentation, or worse, intentionally misleading or fabricated documents presented as evidence to the court lead to negative results […]

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Divorce Order Disagreements

Following divorce, ex-spouses might at some point find themselves in a conflict over the terms of the divorce decree or their martial settlement agreement. If a party feels that the other is in default of a term, he or she should always avoid using threatening language to force the other party’s compliance, no matter how […]

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Determining Child Custody/Visitation

Courts must base their child custody and visitation determinations on the best interest of the child. There are several statutory factors the court must consider in deciding what arrangement is in the best interest of the child, such as the age and physical and mental condition of each parent, any family abuse history, the role […]

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Marital Settlement Agreements and Divorce Orders

When you enter into a valid marital settlement agreement, the agreement becomes enforceable as a contract. When the agreement is then “incorporated but not merged” by a final order of divorce, the agreement becomes enforceable as a contact and as a court order. If the agreement is valid, with limited exceptions (such as challenge to […]

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Contempt/Appeals in Divorce Cases

Spousal and child support obligations can last for years following a divorce. However, if you believe your obligation has become unfair, you may be able to have it lowered or terminated. The process involves filing a motion with the court based on a “material change in circumstances warranting a modification” of the obligation. Simply stopping […]

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Your Marital Settlement Agreement is Probably Binding

Imagine your spouse has initiated divorce and presents you with a marital settlement agreement crafted by an attorney. Your spouse tells you that he/she will consider reconciling if you sign the agreement. You mull it over and, although you think the agreement contains unfair terms, you sign it with hope that your spouse will resume […]

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What is a Void Marriage?

A void marriage is an absolute legal nullity. It requires no an annulment proceeding or judicial declaration in order to be void. The marriage will legally be treated essentially as though it never existed. Examples of void marriages include bigamous, incestuous and underage marriages.

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Trash Talking a Soon-To-Be Ex to Child Could be Abuse

Divorcing parents should always use their best judgement in speaking to their children about the other parent. From a litigation prospective, a parent can face negative consequences for alienating a child from the other parent, as such behavior is emotionally harmful to the child. In one recent Virginia case, abuse and neglect findings were made […]

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Rule To Show Cause in Family Law Cases

When a party fails to comply with a court order, the aggrieved party can petition the court for a “Rule to Show Cause.” In family law cases, the violation often involves nonpayment of spousal or child support. It could also involve noncompliance with child custody/visitation terms, property distribution, or any part of a marital settlement […]

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How is Real Estate Classified in Divorce?

Generally speaking, if real property is purchased during the marriage with marital funds, the property is marital.  If the property was purchased by one party before the marriage without contribution of later marital property,  the property is separate. The property can become hybrid (that is, part separate and part marital) if, for example, some portion […]

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International Child Custody Disputes

When parties are divorced in a foreign country, a U.S. court may grant “comity” to the foreign court’s decision regarding child custody, visitation and other divorce matters.  That means that the U.S. court will follow all or part of the foreign court’s decision.  Whether or not the U.S. court does so will depend on the […]

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Post Separation Agreements and Bankruptcy

The declaration of bankruptcy does not automatically excuse the bankrupt party from paying what is owed to the other spouse. Generally, debts  to a spouse, former spouse, or child of the debtor, that are incurred in the course of a divorce or separation or in connection with a separation agreement or court order, are non-dischargable.  […]

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Consulting a Lawyer: A Few Points to Keep in Mind

Consulting with a lawyer regarding divorce is a smart choice.  Here are a few brief points to keep in mind as you move forward: 1) your attorney may advise pursuing avenues other than heading straight to court with that attorney–cost and practicality may be factors; 2) even the best attorneys may not know that exact […]

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What are Marital Funds?

With some exceptions, money acquired by either husband or wife during a marriage and before separation are marital funds; for example employment income.

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Parsing Out Expenses: Child Support vs Spousal Support

Some expenses will overlap when calculating child and spousal support awards.  The Virginia Court of Appeals recently decided that spouses seeking support do not necessarily have to apportion every category of expense as supporting either spouse or children.  According to the Court, some expenses are indivisible by their very nature.  The determination of spousal and […]

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Hypothetical Ashburn Family Divorce Situation

Hypothetical Ashburn Family Divorce Situation Al and Maggie Luminum live in Ashburn, Virginia.  They bought their first home there to start a family.  They now have three minor children.  Their love for the children kept their marriage alive longer than it would have lasted without them.  Eventually, Al and Maggie no longer wanted to be […]

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How Spousal Support Would Apply in the Hypothetical Divorce Case

How Spousal Support Would Apply in the Hypothetical Divorce Case The hypothetical Ashburn divorce case describes a situation representing  the classic basis for spousal support.  This occurs when the parties marry after college and start a family right away.  At the beginning of the marriage, the wife’s contributions focus on raising kids and managing the […]

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Do you Provide Representation to Divorce Clients in Lansdowne?

The Law Office of William R.F. Conners, P.C. has a long history of successfully representing clients in Loudon County divorce cases. Located in Leesburg, our firm offers legal services to Lansdowne residents. We represent clients in complex divorce cases, including those with business holdings, extensive property and executive level careers. If you live in Lansdowne […]

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What benefits can the Law Office of William R.F. Conners, P.C., provide as a Leesburg and Loudoun County based Family Law firm?

At the Law Office of William R.F. Conners, P.C. we almost exclusively base our divorce representation in Leesburg and Loudoun County, Virginia. We pride ourselves on our detailed knowledge of the philosophies, thought processes and position of the various courts, individuals and entities involved in the courts of Leesburg/Loudoun divorce cases. We leverage our experience […]

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Forensic Mental Health Evaluations In Divorce, Child Custody and Visitation

As Loudoun County VA divorce lawyers and family law attorneys, the Law Office of William R.F. Conners, P.C., is practiced in complex divorce, custody and other family law cases. In such cases, mental health evaluations are sometimes utilized to determine the mental health of the Parties and inform various family law issues such as custody […]

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Virginia’s Rule to Show Cause: Your Tool To Compel Compliance

The Rule To Show Cause (“Rule”) is indispensable in domestic relations cases to deal with an opposing party case who refuses to comply with a court ordered obligation. A Rule can remedy a situation where a party subject to a court order refuses to fulfill court ordered obligations such as a failure to abide by […]

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What is “Hybrid” property?

Hybrid property is generally that property which has a separate and marital component. The separate component must be proven and “traced”.

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What is “Separate” property?

Separate property is generally that property which was acquired prior to the date of marriage or after the date of separation or was received as an inheritance or gift. However, separate property must be proven and “traced”.

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What is “Marital” property?

Marital property is generally that property which was acquired from the date of marriage until the date of separation less any separate interests. All property is presumed “marital” and must be proven otherwise.

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How is the property of divorcing parties distributed?

One of the most complex and important areas of divorce law relates to determining property distributions. The method of distribution used in Virginia is called “equitable distribution.” Equitable distribution may be triggered at the conclusion of the divorce to determine the relative rights and interests of the divorcing parties in property acquired before, during or […]

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Divorce in Virginia FAQs

Seniors, Divorce & Social Security

If you are divorced, you might still qualify for Social Security benefits on your ex-spouse’s work record. First, let’s assume that your ex-spouse is still living. You generally can receive benefits based on your ex-spouse’s work record if your marriage lasted 10 years or longer, you are currently unmarried, and you are at least 62 […]

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Manner of division of a family businesses in divorce

According to 2012 Census data there are over two million businesses nationwide that are jointly owned between spouses.  Some are jointly operated by both husband and wife while some are operated primarily by one spouse but are nonetheless owned by both.  What happens if the couple divorces? Whether determined amicably or not, there are several […]

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Civility at Child Custody Exchanges

Tensions may run high when divorced or separated parents exchange their child for visitation. They should do their best to avoid heated confrontation, especially threatening or violent behavior. In one recent Virginia case, a man was initially convicted of abducting the mother of his child by allegedly trapping her in his car during an argument […]

Read More »

Bankruptcy and Divorce

Spousal and child support debts are not subject to discharge (forgiven) in bankruptcy. However, other debts owed from the bankrupt spouse to the other may be discharged.  Consider a Virginia case where the Husband in chapter 13 bankruptcy still owned the Wife child support arrearages, but not a substantial lump sum payment on a home […]

Read More »

Keeping Stock in Divorce

Like other assets, stock investments are presumed marital property if acquired during the marriage. It is up to a party to show that stock  which claimed “separate” is actually his or her separate property. This might be accomplished by Atracing@ the stock back to the party=s own separate funds.

Read More »

Equitable Distribution of Marital Business

The splitting of a marital business can be a major issue in divorce. Virginia courts will not necessarily find the parties equally entitled to it. Instead, it will consider a variety of factors presented by the divorcing parties. These factors might include the negative and positive contributions to the business and family during the marriage, […]

Read More »

Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress

Offensive behavior  toward you may leave you embarrassed, shaken or fearful enough to feel you have been emotionally injured.  Occasionally, the behavior and resulting emotional damage may be severe enough that is constitutes a successful legal claim for “intentional infliction of emotional distress.”  However, absent a physical injury to accompany the emotional one, it is […]

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What is a QDRO?

A QDRO , or a “qualified domestic relations order,” is a court order that allows for the division of a retirement asset such as a 401(k) or a pension. You and your spouse may decide how to split up your retirement assets in a written property agreement, but, depending on the type of retirement asset […]

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DIY Online Divorce

Spouse seeking an amicable, uncontested divorce sometimes turn to using online resources to attempt to generate court documents. However, without the assistance of attorneys, such individuals often costing themselves more in the long run, financially and emotionally than if they had just retained an attorney at the outset.  Simply put, individuals without the requisite leagl […]

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Fighting for Access to a Child in Divorce

Sometimes in a divorce, one party will seek sole custody and impose severe limitations on the other parent’s rights to see or contact the child.  Attempted justifications for doing so may include allegations of child abuse, drug abuse or other seriously harmful situation for the child.  Success on either side of the dispute may hinge […]

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Parental Rights Vs. Custody

When two parents litigate as to who should have custody and visitation of the children, the court will render a decision based on its determination of what is in the “best interest of the child.”  For example, a court recently gave the mother full physical custody of a child and denied the father immediate visitation […]

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“Separate Maintenance”

Sometimes, a spouse may find her or himself in need of court-ordered support from the other spouse when no divorce action is underway.  Such a suit  must be filed in a court with appropriate jurisdiction and certain legal procedures must be followed.  Speaking to skilled attorney is a necessary first step.

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Gathering Evidence for your Divorce Case

In the initial stages of a divorce action, the parties and their lawyers must determine the identity, value and location of marital property.  Much of this can be determined based on deeds, balance statements and other documentation in the possession of one party or the other.  One party may also possess documentation pertinent to “fault […]

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How is Real Estate Classified in Divorce?

Generally speaking, if real property is purchased during the marriage with marital funds, the property is marital.  If the property was purchased by one party before the marriage without contribution of later marital property,  the property is separate. The property can become hybrid (that is, part separate and part marital) if, for example, some portion […]

Read More »

Post Separation Agreements and Bankruptcy

The declaration of bankruptcy does not automatically excuse the bankrupt party from paying what is owed to the other spouse. Generally, debts  to a spouse, former spouse, or child of the debtor, that are incurred in the course of a divorce or separation or in connection with a separation agreement or court order, are non-dischargable.  […]

Read More »

What are Marital Funds?

With some exceptions, money acquired by either husband or wife during a marriage and before separation are marital funds; for example employment income.

Read More »

Hypothetical Ashburn Family Divorce Situation

Hypothetical Ashburn Family Divorce Situation Al and Maggie Luminum live in Ashburn, Virginia.  They bought their first home there to start a family.  They now have three minor children.  Their love for the children kept their marriage alive longer than it would have lasted without them.  Eventually, Al and Maggie no longer wanted to be […]

Read More »

How Spousal Support Would Apply in the Hypothetical Divorce Case

How Spousal Support Would Apply in the Hypothetical Divorce Case The hypothetical Ashburn divorce case describes a situation representing  the classic basis for spousal support.  This occurs when the parties marry after college and start a family right away.  At the beginning of the marriage, the wife’s contributions focus on raising kids and managing the […]

Read More »

Do you Provide Representation to Divorce Clients in Lansdowne?

The Law Office of William R.F. Conners, P.C. has a long history of successfully representing clients in Loudon County divorce cases. Located in Leesburg, our firm offers legal services to Lansdowne residents. We represent clients in complex divorce cases, including those with business holdings, extensive property and executive level careers. If you live in Lansdowne […]

Read More »

How is spousal support determined?

Spousal support may be awarded in varying circumstances to assist a financially dependent party. Issues involved in determining spousal support depend on key factors such as: (a) gross incomes of the parties, (b) need and ability to pay, (c) length of a marriage, (d) standard of living during the marriage, (e) the roles of the […]

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How is child support determined?

See Child Support FAQs below.

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How is child custody and visitation determined?

See Child Custody and Visitation FAQs below.

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How is property in divorce divided?

See our Property In Divorce FAQs below.

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What is the first step to take when facing the prospect of a divorce issue?

The complexity and high stakes nature of divorce and other family law matters require skilled legal representation. The multitude of issues involved extend far beyond the FAQs herein. An initial consultation is the absolute minimum step that a party should take to learn what their rights are and how to protect them. Contact the Law Office […]

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How are fees for legal services assessed?

In divorce and Family Law matters, the Law Office of William R.F. Conners, P.C., charges by the hour. A nominal fee is required for initial consultations. Visa/MasterCard accepted.

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What happens at a final divorce hearing?

The court takes evidence on all the issues involved in the divorce such as the grounds for divorce, division of property and debts, child custody, visitation and support and spousal support, and the award of attorney’s fees. At such hearing, the court will determine whether a divorce can be granted as well as any fault […]

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What does “pendente lite” mean”?

The term pendente lite describes an interim hearing (or hearings) that are held pending the final divorce hearing. At such hearings, the court is authorized to grant temporary relief on many issues including with regard to property, child custody and visitation and support and spousal support. Oftentimes, the court will also award injunctive relief pendente […]

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My spouse refuses to voluntarily disclose financial information. What can I do?

In the course of litigation, the parties will engage in a process referred to as “discovery.” Discovery is an information gathering and disclosure process using various tools such as questions sent to a party that they must complete under oath, request for documents in the possession of another party, and depositions (wherein a party is […]

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What is a “contested” divorce?

A contested divorce is one in which the parties cannot agree on all or some of the issues involved in a divorce such as the division of their debts, custody and visitation terms for any children, and any spousal and/or child support terms. In the absence of a marital settlement agreement, the parties in a […]

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What is a “Property Settlement Agreement”?

A property settlement agreement (PSA) is just another term for a marital settlement agreement (a contract between the divorcing parties). The PSA can serve as a mutual, contractual settlement of issues relating to the divorce and can be enforced by the court. Of course, skillful legal representation is essential to successfully negotiating a PSA that […]

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What is an “uncontested divorce”?

An uncontested divorce is one in which the parties agree in a settlement agreement (a contract between the divorcing parties) on the distribution of their assets, division of their debts, custody and visitation terms for any children, and any spousal and/or child support terms. Once an agreement in writing has been reached, then the parties […]

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Divorce Over Age 50

Divorce over age 50 is relatively common. According to the Census Bureau, over 15% of adults over 50 are divorced and another 2% are separated from their spouses. Divorce can often be an inevitable result with children gone, ample financial resources available to live separately, and the impact of years of emotional distance. 50 is […]

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Can I expect for my divorce to resolve the same way as my friend’s divorce?

Most likely not. There are many similarities to divorce cases but they are one of the most fact intensive types of cases. Also, Family law in general (and divorces in particular) are subject to an exceedingly high level of discretion by different courts and judges. Lastly, the particular circumstances are unique.

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What discretion do the court’s and/or judge’s have in Divorce cases?

The courts have tremendous discretion in determining the outcome of divorce matters an that discretion is applied in different ways by different judges in the same court. It is critical that your lawyer be well versed in the philosophy and approach of both the court and the various judges who may hear your case.

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My spouse has presented me with a marital settlement agreement. Should I consult with an attorney even if everything looks fine to me?

It is critical that you consult with an attorney prior to signing anything having to do with separation and/or divorce. Any agreement presented to you should be reviewed by an attorney who can advise you of its impacts. Marital settlement agreements often include provisions that you may believe you understand but which have unrecognized unintended, […]

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My issues appear to be simple, can’t I just represent myself?

Everyone has the right to represent themselves in a divorce (just as everyone is free to perform their own dentistry). However, no matter how “simple” the issues appear, it is what you do not know in Family Law that can really hurt your interests. Everyone facing divorce should consult with an experienced attorney and discuss […]

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My spouse and I live in Loudoun County and have recently separated. What court would hear my divorce case?

The preferred venue for Loudoun County divorces is the Leesburg Circuit Court located at 18 East Market Street, Leesburg, Virginia.

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Is there a no fault basis to permit the award of an absolute divorce?

Yes, Virginia permits a “no fault” divorce. Certain requirements must be met in order to receive a divorce on that basis. The parties must demonstrate that they have lived apart continuously and intentionally for a period of one year. If the parties do not have any minor children, and have entered into a property settlement […]

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What are the required “grounds” for divorce awarded on fault?

There are many grounds that if present, in a marital relationship, may permit the granting of a divorce. Some grounds include: Willful desertion or abandonment, cruelty, adultery and other sexually related acts, or conviction of felony. However, there are “defenses” that may be raised by the offending spouse to the aforementioned grounds.

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What are the types of divorce in Virginia?

There are two types of divorces in Virginia. The first is called “a mensa et thoro” (divorce from the bed and board). Such a divorce is a qualified divorce in that legal separation is provided but the parties may not remarry during the term of this qualified divorce. The second type of divorce is called […]

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Property In Divorce FAQs

Valuation Methods in the Division of a Business

When a husband or wife, or both, own a business during marriage, they will need to determine the marital value of same in order to divide same if they divorce. Like other assets, a business can be included in the marital estate for division, or Aequitable distribution,@ upon divorce. Also like other assets, the business […]

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Bankruptcy and Divorce

Spousal and child support debts are not subject to discharge (forgiven) in bankruptcy. However, other debts owed from the bankrupt spouse to the other may be discharged.  Consider a Virginia case where the Husband in chapter 13 bankruptcy still owned the Wife child support arrearages, but not a substantial lump sum payment on a home […]

Read More »

Equitable Distribution of Marital Business

The splitting of a marital business can be a major issue in divorce. Virginia courts will not necessarily find the parties equally entitled to it. Instead, it will consider a variety of factors presented by the divorcing parties. These factors might include the negative and positive contributions to the business and family during the marriage, […]

Read More »

What is the first step to take when dealing with property in divorce issues?

The complexity and high stakes nature of property in divorce and other Family Law matters require skilled legal representation. The multitude of issues involved extend far beyond the FAQs herein. An initial consultation is the absolute minimum step that a party should take to learn what their rights are and how to protect them. Contact the […]

Read More »

I am separated and my spouse (in anticipation of divorce) is unnecessarily liquidating assets for the purposes of spending for purposes of which I do not approve. What can I do?

There are many options (including but not limited to): A party can petition the court to award an injunction (pendente lite) to safeguard assets until the final divorce hearing. A party can also claim assets purchase with marital resources as marital property. Additionally, for those resources spent for which there are no assets to recover, […]

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I have a pension. Does my spouse have an interest?

Maybe. If the pension was accrued during the marriage (and prior to date of separation), then the date of marriage to date of separation value of the pension is likely marital property. However, the court cannot award more than 50% of any pension to the non-pensioner.

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My spouse contributed very little to the marriage and/or acquiring assets?  Does that matter?

There is no presumption in Virginia that property is to be divided 50/50 in divorce. In fact, in dividing the assets, the court must consider the negative “monetary” and “non-monetary” contributions of each party to the marriage. As a result, the court can award a disproportionate share of property to one party or the other.

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The marital home is under water i.e. its mortgages exceed its value. What are my options?

There are many options (but not limited to) that parties can agree to short sale the home, sell the home and cover the cost of the shortfall, maintain the home for a time with the hopes that its value may increase with the agreement that it will then be sold or refinanced, or (if a […]

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I want to refinance the marital home into my name only upon divorce. What are my options?

There are many options including (but not limited to) that parties can accomplish this by marital settlement agreement or, when a spouse disagrees, the court has the power to permit a party to refinance a marital home and buy out the other party’s interest.

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How are fees for legal services assessed?

In divorce and Family Law matters, the Law Office of William R.F. Conners, P.C., charges by the hour. A nominal fee is required for initial consultations. Visa/MasterCard accepted.

Read More »

What is “Hybrid” property?

Hybrid property is generally that property which has a separate and marital component. The separate component must be proven and “traced”.

Read More »

What is “Separate” property?

Separate property is generally that property which was acquired prior to the date of marriage or after the date of separation or was received as an inheritance or gift. However, separate property must be proven and “traced”.

Read More »

What is “Marital” property?

Marital property is generally that property which was acquired from the date of marriage until the date of separation less any separate interests. All property is presumed “marital” and must be proven otherwise.

Read More »

How is the property of divorcing parties distributed?

One of the most complex and important areas of divorce law relates to determining property distributions. The method of distribution used in Virginia is called “equitable distribution.” Equitable distribution may be triggered at the conclusion of the divorce to determine the relative rights and interests of the divorcing parties in property acquired before, during or […]

Read More »

Child Custody and Visitation FAQs

Civility at Child Custody Exchanges

Tensions may run high when divorced or separated parents exchange their child for visitation. They should do their best to avoid heated confrontation, especially threatening or violent behavior. In one recent Virginia case, a man was initially convicted of abducting the mother of his child by allegedly trapping her in his car during an argument […]

Read More »

Child Custody: When the Custodial Parent Wants to Move

A custodial parent can move with the children but often with limitations. The court will look at the purpose of the move and whether it would substantially impair the non-custodial parent=s relationship with the children. The issue of relocation is made complicated by conflicting law, critical facts and jurisdictional considerations.

Read More »

Unlawful Entry/Trespass to See Child

Parents at odds with each other must remain sensible and exercise parental rights lawfully. The Virginia Court of Appeals recently confirmed that a man=s breaking into his ex-girlfriend=s home was not made lawful by his claim that he simply wanted to see his child. The court found it rational to conclude that the defendant, who […]

Read More »

Can a widowed stepparent get custody/visitation of a stepchild?

It is possible depending on the situation.  A grandparent, stepparent or other such “person with a legitimate interest” (as defined  in the Code of Virginia) may assert a custody or visitation right with respect to a child in court.  Although difficult, the rights of the surviving parent to care for and choose who a child […]

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Parental Rights Vs. Custody

When two parents litigate as to who should have custody and visitation of the children, the court will render a decision based on its determination of what is in the “best interest of the child.”  For example, a court recently gave the mother full physical custody of a child and denied the father immediate visitation […]

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What is a Guardian Ad Litem?

In Virginia, a guardian ad litem is an attorney appointed by the court to represent the best interests and welfare of a child.  Whether or not a guardian ad litem is needed is up to the court. Generally, a court will only appoint a guardian ad litem in a custody or visitation dispute if it […]

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Rights of Grandparents and Other “Persons with a Legitimate Interest”

Although a child’s parents generally have the strongest rights, others may seek child custody or visitation.  These other people are termed “persons with a legitimate interest.”  They may include grandparents, step-parents and others involved with the child.  They must properly petition the court to be heard. It is also possible for a parent to petition […]

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Changing a Custody or Visitation Order

A court-ordered modification of a custody and visitation order is can be achieved by filing a motion to modify the order.  The party seeking the modification  must allege and prove that there has been a matrial change of circumstanced warranting a modification that is in the best interest of the child.

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I Have Physical Custody of My Child, and My Ex has Visitation. Is My Ability to Relocate with the Child Restricted?

It depends on the facts of your case and the specifics of your custody/visitation arrangement.  A court would seek to determine what is in the best interest of the child and whether or not the move would substantially impair the relationship between your child and the other parent. Reclocation cases are some of the most […]

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International Child Custody Disputes

When parties are divorced in a foreign country, a U.S. court may grant “comity” to the foreign court’s decision regarding child custody, visitation and other divorce matters.  That means that the U.S. court will follow all or part of the foreign court’s decision.  Whether or not the U.S. court does so will depend on the […]

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What is the first step to take when dealing with child custody and visitation issues?

The complexity and high stakes nature of family law matters require skilled legal representation. The multitude of issues involved extend far beyond the FAQs herein. An initial consultation is the absolute minimum step that a party should take to learn what their rights are and how to protect them. Contact the Law Office of William R. […]

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How are child visitation matters determined in court?

In making a decision as to who is awarded visitation (and the terms thereof), the Court will be guided by the “best interests of the child” legal standard. Many legal elements and factual factors impact determinations under the foregoing standard. Visitation arrangements are tailored to fit the unique circumstances of a particular child and the […]

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The other parent and I are separated and I am having difficulty accessing medical records for my child.

Pursuant to Virginia Code 20-124.6, all parents are entitled to medical records (with or without the other parent’s authorization).  Click on this link to read Virginia Code 20-124.6.

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What are the basic differences between sole and joint custody?

Joint custody is a custodial arrangement wherein both parties confer and jointly make important decisions regarding the child. A party having sole custody is not legally required to consult with the other party in making decisions relating to a child. However, even in a sole custody scenario, a party may have the courts intervene in […]

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How are child custody issues determined in court?

In making a decision as to which party should be awarded custody, the Court will be guided by the “best interests of the child” legal standard. Many legal elements and factual factors impact determinations under the foregoing standard. Custody may be awarded “jointly” or “solely.” In the absence of an agreement, the court will also […]

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How are fees for legal services assessed?

In divorce and Family Law matters, the Law Office of William R.F. Conners, P.C., charges by the hour. A nominal fee is required for initial consultations. Visa/MasterCard accepted.

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Child Support FAQs

Child Custody: When the Custodial Parent Wants to Move

A custodial parent can move with the children but often with limitations. The court will look at the purpose of the move and whether it would substantially impair the non-custodial parent=s relationship with the children. The issue of relocation is made complicated by conflicting law, critical facts and jurisdictional considerations.

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Must the Less Wealthy Non-Custodial Spouse Pay Child Support?

The custodial parent=s assets and earning capacity cannot be the sole basis for a determination of child support. There are statutory guidelines which are presumptively proper that Virginia courts consider in determining child support awards, although deviations may be permissible. Moreover, a child support decision must be in the best interest of the children.

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Unlawful Entry/Trespass to See Child

Parents at odds with each other must remain sensible and exercise parental rights lawfully. The Virginia Court of Appeals recently confirmed that a man=s breaking into his ex-girlfriend=s home was not made lawful by his claim that he simply wanted to see his child. The court found it rational to conclude that the defendant, who […]

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What Happens if I Violate the Court’s Support Order?

Consequences for violating a court order, including those that set forth child and/or spousal support, can include contempt findings against you, and you may be incarcerated, have to pay your spouse’s/ex-spouse’s attorneys fees in connection with support enforcement litigation, or be compelled to take other actions as ordered.

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Child Support Agreements

Parties to divorce can include child support provisions in their negotiated property settlement agreements as well as spousal support.  However, there are distinguishing legal factors that must be considered when including child support terms in a settlement agreement.  While parties can agree to  non-modifiable spousal support, they cannot by law prohibit the courts from modifying […]

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Terminating Spousal Support When Ex-Spouse Move On (and in)

Under Virginia law, a spousal support obligation may be terminated if the former spouse  receiving support remarries or if it is shown “upon clear and convincing evidence” that he or she has been habitually cohabiting with another person in a relationship analogous to a marriage for one year.  If the new couple is unmarried, the […]

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Retroactive Child Support

Pending a final divorce, the custodial parent may be in immediate need for child support.  As discussed elsewhere on our website, child support can be awarded in connection with a pendente lite hearing, that is, in an interim hearing prior to the final divorce suit hearing.  What happens when the payor does not provide any […]

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Parsing Out Expenses: Child Support vs Spousal Support

Some expenses will overlap when calculating child and spousal support awards.  The Virginia Court of Appeals recently decided that spouses seeking support do not necessarily have to apportion every category of expense as supporting either spouse or children.  According to the Court, some expenses are indivisible by their very nature.  The determination of spousal and […]

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Hypothetical Ashburn Family Divorce Situation

Hypothetical Ashburn Family Divorce Situation Al and Maggie Luminum live in Ashburn, Virginia.  They bought their first home there to start a family.  They now have three minor children.  Their love for the children kept their marriage alive longer than it would have lasted without them.  Eventually, Al and Maggie no longer wanted to be […]

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What is the first step to take when dealing with child support issues?

The complexity and high stakes nature of child support and other Family Law matters require skilled legal representation. The multitude of issues involved extend far beyond the FAQs herein. An initial consultation is the absolute minimum step that a party should take to learn what their rights are and how to protect them. Contact the Law […]

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My child is older now and no longer in “work related” child care (the cost of which was included in determining child support). What can I do?

In the absence of an agreement to re-calculate child support, a party may have to file a motion to modify child support on the grounds that work related child care is no longer used and as such a material change in circumstances has occurred warranting a modification of child support.

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My child support was set long ago and my ex has a lucrative job now but refuses to disclose his/her income information so I can recalculate child support. What can I do?

In the absence of an agreement to re-calculate child support based on proper disclosures, a party may have to file a motion to modify child support upon information and belief that the other party’s income has increased and therefore a material change in circumstances has occurred warranting a modification of child support. After the motion […]

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My child support was set long ago. Can it be modified?

Maybe. The Court maintains jurisdiction to determine child support initially and thereafter to re-visit the issue upon a “material change in circumstances”.

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The other party refuses to work and earn a decent wage and as a result, it looks like I will have to pay much more in child support. Can anything be done?

The court has the power to “impute” income to a party who is voluntarily underemployed or unemployed. Most commonly, but not always, a vocational expert should be utilized to provide the evidence needed.

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How is child support calculated?

Presumptive child support obligations are largely determined by Virginia’s statutory support guidelines. However, the court’s have the authority to “deviate” from the guidelines based on many factors. The most critical variable for calculating child support include (i) number of children, (ii) gross incomes of the parties, (iii) which party is the custodian of the child,(iv) […]

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How are fees for legal services assessed?

In divorce and Family Law matters, the Law Office of William R.F. Conners, P.C., charges by the hour. A nominal fee is required for initial consultations. Visa/MasterCard accepted.

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Spousal Support FAQs

Size of Spousal Support Award

There are a number of factors that will determine the amount and duration of court-awarded spousal support, but generally the most critical is that the support will allow the recipient to maintain the lifestyle to which she/he had been accustomed during the marriage. For example, the support payee should not expect his/her obligation to merely […]

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Ill-Intended Purpose for Spousal Support

A party’s true need for spousal support is key in obtaining and maintaining a spousal support award.  As was recently demonstrated in a Virginia divorce case, as spouse’s statement implying an improper reason for seeking spousal support, e.g., to bankrupt the other spouse, can cause a court to question the need for support.

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Spousal Support: Imputation of Income

When either divorcing spouse is deemed voluntarily unemployed or underemployed, the Court may impute income to that spouse.  That is, cause the amount of money that the spouse is capable of earning to be counted against him or her when calculating support obligations or awards.  There are a number of factors that the court must […]

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Selection and Use of a Vocational Expert In Spousal Support Cases

You have made that decision to file for a divorce and now you’re faced with a range of additional decisions. Some of these are extremely critical. The first and most critical decision is finding and securing a competent lawyer, someone who understands you and your situation. The second is deciding what experts you might need, […]

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Changing a Spousal Support Obligation

A court may modify a spousal support award if either party can demonstrate a material change in circumstance.  The change in circumstances must bear upon the financial needs of the dependent spouse or the ability of the supporting spouse to pay. Typically the process is initiated when one party files a motion to modify spousal […]

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Parsing Out Expenses: Child Support vs Spousal Support

Some expenses will overlap when calculating child and spousal support awards.  The Virginia Court of Appeals recently decided that spouses seeking support do not necessarily have to apportion every category of expense as supporting either spouse or children.  According to the Court, some expenses are indivisible by their very nature.  The determination of spousal and […]

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How Spousal Support Would Apply in the Hypothetical Divorce Case

How Spousal Support Would Apply in the Hypothetical Divorce Case The hypothetical Ashburn divorce case describes a situation representing  the classic basis for spousal support.  This occurs when the parties marry after college and start a family right away.  At the beginning of the marriage, the wife’s contributions focus on raising kids and managing the […]

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What is the first step to take when dealing with spousal support issues?

The complexity and high stakes nature of child support and other Family Law matters require skilled legal representation. The multitude of issues involved extend far beyond the FAQs herein. An initial consultation is the absolute minimum step that a party should take to learn what their rights are and how to protect them. Contact the Law […]

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What is the statutory basis for termination of spousal support?

(i)The death of the payor or payee, (ii) the remarriage of the payee, (iii) upon clear and convincing evidence that the payee has been habitually cohabiting with another person in a relationship analogous to a marriage.

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I just retired. Can I modify and/or terminate my spousal support obligation?

Maybe. You will need to consult with an attorney to determine whether your specific obligation maybe modifiable or terminated. However, generally, if the spousal support award was made by the court (not by an agreement of the parties precluding or not providing for modification) then the court should have the jurisdiction to modify the award […]

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What is the general role of adultery in spousal support?

A finding of adultery will bar a party from spousal support unless to deny such support would constitute a “manifest injustice.”

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What is permanent support vs. defined duration support as awarded by a court?

When a court awards “permanent” support (such as in the case of a long-term marriage), the support is to be paid until modified by the court or until certain termination events occur. Defined duration support is as the term suggests-spousal support to be paid for a time certain.

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The other party refuses to work and/or earn a decent wage and, as a result, it looks like I will have to pay much more in spousal support. Can anything be done?

The court has the power to “impute” income to a party who is voluntarily underemployed or unemployed. Most commonly, but not always, a vocational expert should be utilized to provide the evidence needed. Successful imputation of income can dramatically mitigate or preclude the amount and/or duration of spousal support.

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How is spousal support determined?

Spousal support may be awarded in varying circumstances to assist a financially dependent party. Issues involved in determining spousal support depend on key factors such as: (a) gross incomes of the parties, (b) need and ability to pay, (c) length of a marriage, (d) standard of living during the marriage, (e) the roles of the […]

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How are fees for legal services assessed?

In divorce and Family Law matters, the Law Office of William R.F. Conners, P.C., charges by the hour. A nominal fee is required for initial consultations. Visa/MasterCard accepted.

Read More »
The Law Office of William R.F. Conners, P.C. in Leesburg, Virginia serves the cities of Chantilly, Fairfax, Herndon, Leesburg, Middleburg, Reston, and Vienna, Sterling, Ashburn and Purcellville, as well as all communities in Loudoun County and Fairfax County, Virginia.