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Fairfax Family Law Blog

Three things to know about marital property division in Virginia

After many years of marriage, you may have finally decided that it is time to divorce. Perhaps your marriage has been slowly deteriorating over time or perhaps you and your spouse have simply fallen out of love. No matter the reason why you have decided to end your relationship, you need to take steps to prepare for your divorce. For example, one of the first things you should do is to learn as much as possible about the marital property laws in Virginia.

Like many other states, Virginia does not follow the principles of community property where spouses are presumptively equal co-owners of property. Instead, the courts follow the principles of equitable distribution, in which they evaluate the fairest allocation of assets and debts, as explained below.

Second Saturday Divorce Workshop - February 10, 2018

ss.jpgNew Year. New Plan. Fresh Start.

Join us for our next Second Saturday Divorce Workshop on Saturday, February 10, 2018. This workshop will help you explore the legal, financial and emotional issues of divorce and gain a better understanding of the divorce process in preparing you and your family through this transition. Our team of professional volunteers will help pave the way.

Access to Child's Medical Records

Clients often contact us because one of their child's medical providers has refused to provide them with copies of their child's medical records because they do not have primary custody of the child. Medical providers often refuse to release medical records to a divorced parent who does not have primary custody of the child if the other parent objects. However, this is improper and directly contrary to the non-custodial parent's rights.

Impact of New Tax Law Upon Spousal Support

For over seventy years, federal tax law has allowed payors of spousal support to deduct every single dollar of payments from their gross income and has required recipients to declare those payments received as income. The clear policy reason was that payors should not be taxed on income that they received but were legally compelled to give away, and recipients should not receive income completely tax-free. By shifting the tax burden from the higher-earning spouse to the lower-earning spouse, because of the progressive nature of tax brackets, it also usually kept more money in the parties' hands, as opposed to being taxed by the state and federal governments. As a practical matter, this scheme has made it easier for payor spouse to agree to pay support, knowing precisely what he or she would be giving away.

Second Saturday Divorce Workshop - January 13, 2018

ss.jpgNew Year. New Plan. Fresh Start.

Start off the New Year with a Plan. Join us for our next Second Saturday Divorce Workshop on Saturday, January 13, 2018. This workshop will help you explore the legal, financial and emotional issues of divorce and gain a better understanding of the divorce process in preparing you and your family through this transition. Our team of professional volunteers will help pave the way.

"Negative Monetary Contributions" in Equitable Distribution

In today's divorces, it is an all-too-frequent scenario where one spouse brings in the money, only to see it recklessly spent just as fast by the other spouse. This phenomenon often takes the form of excessive unnecessary travel; gambling; "loans" to friends or family members; designer clothing instead of "off-the-rack;" expensive lunches/dinners; excessive alcohol consumption; and a myriad of other examples. Invariably, such financial recklessness leads to marital discord, which, in turn, often leads to divorce.

The question then becomes: How, if at all, can the hardworking, frugal, "innocent" spouse recoup any of the tens of thousands of marital dollars that were wasted by the irresponsible spouse? Virginia's Equitable Distribution statute (Code ยง 20-107.3) does provide a method for compensating the "innocent" spouse through the concept of "Negative Monetary Contributions."

Getting Divorced When Spouse Resides Out-of-State

Oftentimes, issues arise when a spouse lives in a different state than where the other spouse wants to file for divorce. This can arise when a spouse voluntarily leaves Virginia and the remaining spouse wants to file for divorce or when a spouse moves to Virginia from another state to file for divorce.

Documents to Gather Before Your Attorney Consultation

It is axiomatic that the more information your attorney has bout your situation - particularly financial information - the better he or she will be able to identify and evaluate the issues involved in your divorce and appropriately advise you. Thus, the time to begin gathering information and documents is prior to your initial consultation.

QDRO: An important tool in divorce property division

Anyone considering divorce does a service to him or herself by learning all they can about it before starting the process. One way of looking at divorce is as a major campaign. There is always an emotional toll for both spouses, even in the most amicable of divorces. If children are in the equation, the challenge increases. And there is always the matter of property division to contend with.

In the course of trying to understand the finer points of asset division, it's possible readers will come across the term, "qua-dro." That's not actually a word. This is the pronunciation of the acronym QDRO - formally known as a Qualified Domestic Relations Order. It is a tool available under family law in every state designed to address the often-overlooked asset in a couple's property portfolio - their retirement plan.

Recovering Damages for Assault

It seems as though new instances of sexual harassment, or outright sexual assault, monopolize the news headlines virtually every day. The perpetrators of such conduct are not limited to individuals who inhabit back alleys and darkened shadows of the inner city; but more often include corporate CEOs, politicians, entertainment moguls and television personalities.

The victims of such physical abuse can be men or women. Regardless of gender, the victims have one thing in common, namely, the fact that they often feel powerless to take any action against the abuser, beyond merely reporting the crime to the police.

However, Virginia law DOES offer another option. In addition to involving law enforcement to criminal prosecute the perpetrators of these assaults, a victim is also entitled to pursue a civil action against the abuser for damages caused by the conduct. Such damages can include compensation for any bodily injuries, and medical bills associated with treatment for those injuries; as well as, mental anguish and emotional distress resulting from the conduct.

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