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Falls Church Virginia Family Law Blog

What can be included in a premarital agreement in Virginia?

Summer is a popular time for weddings across the nation, including right here in Virginia. Soon-to-be spouses may be eager to exchange wedding vows and celebrate the occasion with their loved ones. While their wedding day may have their full attention at this time, it is important that they think of their lives in the future as a married couple. Specifically, they should make sure they are on the same page regarding financial issues. For this reason, some couples choose to execute a premarital agreement, also referred to as a prenuptial agreement, prior to walking down the aisle.

The Code of Virginia ยง20-150 delineates what topics can be included in a premarital agreement. First, a premarital agreement can include language describing each spouse's rights and obligations with regards to both separate and marital property. In addition, a premarital agreement can include clauses about each spouse's right to purchase, sell or otherwise exercise management and control of property. Premarital agreements can also contain language regarding how property will be divided upon divorce or the death of one of the spouses. The issue of spousal support can also be addressed in a premarital agreement.

Property settlement agreements may lead to an amicable divorce

When a couple in Virginia has been married for years or even decades, they will accumulate a lot of property. Some of this property is tangible, such as houses, automobiles, furniture and electronics. And, some of this property is intangible, such as retirement accounts, stocks and bank accounts. Some of a couple's assets will be highly valuable financially, but even assets that are not worth a great amount still may have a great deal of sentimental value.

Therefore, when a married couple decides to divorce, one issue they will face is property division. This can be a touchy and emotional subject. There may be assets that both spouses wish to retain due to their financial worth or sentimental value. Moreover, neither spouse wants to feel short-changed when it comes to property division. Sometimes a couple simply cannot see eye to eye on property division, and must turn to the court to issue a ruling on the matter. However, sometimes the spouses are able to negotiate a voluntary property settlement agreement on their own. That being said, certain requirements must be met for such an agreement to be legally enforceable.

How can co-parenting help children post-divorce?

When parents in Falls Church are going through a divorce, they may feel like their disagreements will never end. The fighting and rancor that led to the end of the marriage can be difficult not just for the spouses, but for their children as well. However, children are resilient and can adjust to a new life post-divorce, especially if their parents are able to co-parent.

Research on the subject of children and divorce, including a two-decade study published in a book titled, "We're Still Family," has shown that approximately 80 percent of children whose parents divorced were still able to thrive. They were able to do well in school, adjust socially and that there was no long-lasting harm on their mental well-being. And, when parents are able to co-parent after a divorce, it can have a beneficial effect on their child.

Same-sex couples may face unique divorce legal issues

Same-sex marriage has been legal in Virginia and across the nation for several years now. Therefore, it is understandable that same-sex divorce is also becoming more commonplace. However, when it comes to same-sex divorce, same-sex couples may face unique issues that heterosexual couples do not.

Take, for example, the issue of child custody. Same-sex couples may choose to adopt a child, or use just one partner's DNA and a surrogate to conceive a child. In situations like this, it is possible that only one of the partners is, for legal purposes, considered to be the child's parent, despite the fact that both partners may play an equal role in raising the child. This could pose problems for the non-legal parent if the couple decides to split, and the non-legal parent wants to seek custody or visitation rights with the child.

Your divorce does not need to go to court

Every divorce is unique. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to ending a marriage. If you are dreading the courtroom battles, then you will be happy to know there are alternatives to litigating your divorce. You may want to divorce through mediation or collaborative family law

These methods for divorcing may achieve the following:

  • Reduce your expenses
  • Expedite the process
  • Result in a more amicable relationship with your ex
  • Be easier for kids to handle

Collaborative law could lead to a more satisfactory divorce

While a divorce filing may be the result of years of anger, sadness or resentment between two spouses, that doesn't mean a divorce always has to involve a long, drawn-out courtroom battle. In fact, most divorcing spouses in Falls Church probably want to avoid the nightmare scenario of a divorce that drags on for months, draining each spouse emotionally and financially and ultimately leading to a result that neither spouse is satisfied with.

One way to avoid such drama and to have more control over the outcome of one's divorce is through the use of collaborative law. In a collaborative divorce, each spouse along with their attorneys will voluntarily agree in writing to resolve their divorce issues through out-of-court negotiations. Should these negotiations fail, and the matter is sent before the court, then the spouses' attorneys will need to recuse themselves from the case, and the spouses will need to find new attorneys. This provides an incentive for all involved to make the collaborative divorce process work.

Should one purchase a new home before their divorce is finalized?

When a couple in Virginia decides to divorce, one or both of them may be anxious to move out of the marital home and into their own home away from their ex. In the event that a couple decides to sell the marital home and split the proceeds or in the event that one spouse is leaving the marital home, one or both spouses may be interested in purchasing a new home in their name only. However, should they go through with the home buying process before their divorce is finalized?

It is important to the spouse that is moving out of the marital home that their ex doesn't have a claim to the new home that spouse is purchasing. Couples who are on good terms with one another may be able to reach a property division settlement in which they agree that the new home belongs solely to the spouse that moved out of the marital home. However, not all couples are able to work together to settle their property division issues on their own.

Where can process be served in a military divorce?

Marriages in which one party is in the military face challenges that civilian marriages do not. Military spouses will have to deal with constant moves and long deployments, all of which can take a toll on a couple's marriage. Sometimes the conflicts are just too much to deal with, and the couple will decide to divorce. However, when it comes to a military divorce couples in Virginia should understand that certain rules will apply to them that would not be applicable in a civilian divorce.

One example is the service of process in a military divorce. In a civilian divorce, one or both spouses usually must be residents of the state in which they wish to file divorce. However, in a military divorce, couples have choices when it comes to deciding where to file for divorce. They can file for divorce in the state where the service member is currently stationed. They can file for divorce in the state where either party currently resides. Or, they can file for divorce in the state in which the service member claims he or she is a legal resident.

Where to turn when your child custody rights are interfered with

When parents in Virginia divorce or break-up they are often left with a lot of bitter feelings toward one another. Compounding the animosity they may have with each other is the painful reality that if they share child custody there will be times when their child will not be in their care, but in the care of their ex instead. This can cause hard feelings. One parent may feel like their ex is not a good parent, and their child shouldn't be left in their ex's care. Or a parent may simply want to get back at or in some other way hurt their ex.

For these, or other reasons, one parent may prevent the child from spending time with the other parent during that parent's court-ordered parenting time with the child. A parent might refuse to drop the child off, or may abscond with the child to a location unknown to the other parent. Doing so, however, is wrongful and if a parent who absconds with a child is caught, they could lose their rights to the child.

3 tips for divorcing an addict

Being married to someone who is an alcoholic or drug addict can be difficult to manage. Sometimes, divorcing a spouse with an addiction may be your best option. You may want to end your marriage to preserve your own sanity, protect your children or force your spouse to finally get help.

Divorces are always difficult, but ones that involve addiction come with some unique complications. Here are some things to consider when divorcing a spouse who has a substance abuse problem.

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