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Falls Church Virginia Family Law Blog

Claiming a child as a dependent on one's taxes post-divorce

Parents in Virginia may wish to take advantage of claiming their child as a dependent as they prepare their annual income tax returns. When a child's parents are married, doing so is relatively easy. However, if a child's parents are unmarried things can become murkier.

Being able to claim a child as an exempt dependent on one's taxes is financially advantageous. In addition, if a child is claimed as a dependent, the parent may be able to take advantage of the Child Tax Credit and other tax credits.

How are pensions handled in a military divorce?

A military marriage can be difficult. Some military couples in Falls Church may be able to work through an active deployment and other ways being in the military can disrupt a marriage. However, other military couples will find that these difficulties are simply too much to handle, and they are best off divorcing.

When a person, military or civilian, goes through a divorce, they will need to divide their assets. And, just like civilian pensions, military pensions are part of this process. Whether the pension will be considered sole property or marital property depends on state law. Also, state law will usually determine how such retirement pay will be divided.

An overview of child support guidelines in Virginia

Parents in Virginia understand that it takes money to raise a child. This is true even if the parents are divorced. Despite the fact that their relationship has ended, they are still both obligated to support their child financially. While the custodial parent supports the child by having the child live with them, the noncustodial parent may be ordered to pay child support.

Virginia has statutory child support guidelines that determine how much support to award. Either parent may be ordered to pay child support to the other parent -- it is not always fathers paying to mothers. A child support award is based on the child's reasonable needs and each party's reasonable ability to meet these needs financially. When it comes to calculating child support the court will look at each party's income and the average amount of money that families who have not divorced would spend raising a child.

We assist Virginians with questions about spousal support

Every family in Virginia has a different dynamic, particularly when it comes to their careers. Sometimes both spouses work outside the home and earn relatively the same amount of money. However, sometimes while both spouses work outside the home, one spouse earns significantly more than the other. In addition, sometimes one spouse will stay out of the workforce entirely, while the other spouse works outside the home to support their family. So, what happens when a lesser-earning or homemaking spouse goes through a divorce? How will they get by financially?

This is why spousal support (also known as alimony or spousal maintenance) is so important. Spousal support is meant to provide a lesser-earning spouse with the financial resources necessary to become self-sufficient. However, unlike child support, there is no formula for calculating spousal support. Instead, the court will consider a number of factors.

A "bird's nest" child custody plan may be the answer for some

When a child's parents divorce, it seems to be obvious that the child will spend his or her time going back and forth between homes. That means two different addresses, two different bedrooms and the regular exchange as the child goes to the care of one parent from the other. A divorce is already a monumental change in a child's life, and having to adjust to a new home and lifestyle can only add to the stress. For these reasons, some parents in Virginia are turning to a unique form of child custody: the "bird's nest."

In a bird's nest arrangement, the child will remain in the family home. Instead, it is the parents that will take turns living in the family home part-time and staying in a separate apartment part-time. It is hoped that such arrangements will provide children with the stability they need to grow and thrive after a divorce.

Making the most of time spent with your noncustodial child

Research suggests that children fare better when both of their parents are involved in their lives, so if you are a noncustodial parent, know that even spending short amounts of time with your child can prove beneficial. Even if you do not see your son or daughter as much as you might like, those weekends, spring break trips and extended summer visits add up, and they can help the two of you cement a strong bond that even geography cannot break.

Spending time with a child you do not typically live with can prove challenging, however, as the two of you, and possibly other family members, adjust to new rules, new sleeping arrangements and so on. Utilizing these tips can help you make the most out of your visit with your son or daughter, improving your relationship while boosting his or her overall well-being. So, next time your child comes for a visit, try to:

Does a divorce in Virginia always mean litigation?

A couple going through a divorce may feel like the whole reason behind the divorce is that they cannot agree on anything or it is impossible for them to have a healthy, meaningful relationship. Despite that, not every couple necessarily wants to continue to fight all the way to the courtroom. Fortunately, there are options.

One option is mediation. Through mediation, the spouses will work with a mediator to settle their divorce issues. The mediator is a neutral entity. They can be an attorney, but there are also non-attorney mediators.

What is like getting a divorce at a young age?

Some couples in Falls Church may be married for many years or even decades before divorcing. Some young adults can find that, though they have only been married a few years, their relationship is too rocky. And, they are best off getting a divorce. But, those who divorce in their 20's may face challenges that older couples do not.

For example, many divorcees in their 20's may find that many of their peers are either newly married or are not married. Therefore, they may find it difficult to find others they can relate. However, when a young couple divorces, they may not have children yet, and they may not have much in the way of marital property. Without having to make child custody or child support decisions, and without a great deal of assets, the divorce process can be more straightforward.

Property division: keeping separate assets separate -- the don'ts

Last week on this blog, we discussed how couples in Virginia who are about to be wed, or are already married, can keep separate property from becoming marital property. Keep in mind that marital property is considered to be owned by each spouse and thus is included in the divisible estate should the couple divorce. This is very important, since both spouses in a divorce have a vested interest in seeing that the property division process is fair and appropriate. Last week we discussed the "do's" of keeping separate assets separate. This week we will discuss the "don'ts" of keeping separate assets separate.

First, spouses should not use separate funds to pay debts acquired during the course of the marriage. Doing so could be considered comingling, transforming those separate funds to marital funds. Similarly, spouses should not deposit their earnings made while married into a separate account. Income earned while the couple is married in general is deemed to be marital property. Placing those funds in a separate account commingles them, meaning the separate account now considered to be marital.

Property division: keeping separate assets separate -- the do's

When a couple in Virginia gets married, it is possible that both spouses owned property in their own name before they wed. In general, separate property remains the property of the spouse that owned it prior to the marriage. Therefore, if the couple divorced, each party's separate property would not be subject to property division, unlike property acquired during the course of the marriage (marital property).

However, unless care is taken, it is entirely possible for separate assets to "commingle" with marital assets. Through commingling, it becomes impossible to track which assets are marital and which are separate. Thus, the separate assets will convert to marital assets, and would be subject to property division.

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Maddox & Gerock, P.C.
8111 Gatehouse Road
Suite 410
Falls Church, VA 22042
Phone: 703-883-8035
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