Powell Radomsky, PLLC

Fairfax Family Law Blog

Helping Virginia children thrive after divorce

Parents in Virginia and across the country typically consider their children their first priority; their children's welfare is one of the most important factors when it comes to making certain decisions. For some people, this could prompt them to stay in an unhappy relationship because of their concern over the impact that it will have on the children. Fortunately, there are steps that parents can take to help their children thrive in the aftermath of a divorce.

For example, one author who writes on family-related issues studied how children of divorce coped. Her research reportedly shows that children who spend approximately equal time with both parents in the aftermath of a divorce report better psychological health and greater self-esteem as adults. Additionally, there are other steps that can help ease children through the transition.

Family law: The role of a prenuptial agreement in Virginia

When couples in Virginia choose to marry, they often do so with the expectation that they will spend the rest of their lives together. However, when many people today do walk down the aisle, many already have significant assets that they have acquired up to that point. Once they get married, however, family law could dictate how certain property will be divided should the marriage end in divorce.

As such, many couples choose to examine the benefits of a prenuptial agreement. A prenup, also known as a premarital agreement, can give couples the power to determine how their assets -- and debts -- will be distributed should the marriage end in divorce. Without one, property will likely be distributed equitably.

Is your spouse up to no good in property division proceedings?

Many issues can have an impact on your children as you navigate the family justice system in divorce. When you filed a petition in a Virginia court, your highest priority was likely to try to move on in life in such a way that your kids would be able to adapt to a new lifestyle with as little stress as possible. Finances is often a big concern for parents who decide to sever marital ties.

Especially if you'll be the custodial parent, you need to be able to provide for your children's needs. The court may order your ex to pay child support. Property division proceedings will also have a significant impact on your post-divorce financial status, which is why it's important to investigate further if you suspect that your spouse is trying to hide assets to keep you from getting money or property to which you may be entitled.

Michael Strahan, ex-wife argue over child support

When people in Virginia divorce and create an initial agreement, they may falsely believe that the agreement is the end of their legal wrangling. However, when circumstances change or a misunderstanding of the terms of an agreement occur, one party may feel that it is necessary to take additional action. For example, the ex-wife of Michael Strahan, former football player and current host of "Good Morning America," is seeking over $547,000 in back child support and other costs.

The couple, who share 14-year-old twins, originally married in 1999 and divorced in 2006. At the time, their divorce was described as amicable. Jean reportedly received an initial settlement of $15.3 million in addition to $18,000 a month in child support, with support payments later being reduced to $13,000.

Determining child custody in Virginia

When a romantic relationship comes to an end and there are children involved, parents in Virginia must make multiple decisions. While the ultimate goal for most parents is to ensure that the transition is as easy as possible for the child, it is sometimes difficult for parents with strained personal relationships to come to a child custody agreement on their own. Fortunately, there are a variety of different options.

In most states, the options for married couples and unmarried couples are, for the most part, similar. Some couples will be able to come to an agreement on their own, often with the help of an attorney or through some other alternative dispute resolution option. If they can not come to an agreement, their case will be heard by a family court judge who will make a determination regarding the best interests of the child.

Legally required to pay child support without a biological link

For most people in Virginia, the news that they are going to be a parent is something that they celebrate as they anticipate the new and exciting stage of their lives. For example, one man living in another state claims that he was ecstatic when he learned that his girlfriend was pregnant. However, he is now dismayed after learning that the child is not biologically his, and the state is still coming after him for child support.

Because the man says he had no reason to suspect that the child was not his, he signed the birth certificate. However, the couple ultimately separated after the child's birth. Despite this, he claims he stayed active in the child's life, dedicated to supporting the child both financially and emotionally.

Helping children through the divorce process

For parents in Virginia, their number one concern is often how their decisions will impact their children. In some cases, this may motivate them to stay in an unhappy marriage. While most would agree that divorce is a difficult process for all involved, especially children, there are certain actions that parents can take that can potentially ease the transition for them.

One of the most important things to do is to maintain a civil relationship with each other. While this may be difficult, doing some could ultimately be beneficial to the children. This includes declining to fight in front of the children; any disputes can be saved for later when the children are not present. It could also include having family nights periodically, especially during the initial transition. Supporting the child through major milestone events, such as birthdays and graduations, can also help.  

Things for non-custodial parents to keep in mind

The day a judge in a Virginia court finalized your divorce decree, you began to move on in life apart from the person who had been your spouse. However, you in no way abdicated your parental rights or obligations. In fact, if you're like many other parents who divorce, you might have been a bit worried about your new role as a non-custodial parent, hoping your co-parenting plan runs smoothly and that you are able to maintain a close and active relationship with your children.

Besides the most tangible difference between being a custodial or non-custodial parent, which, of course, is the fact that your kids don't live with you on a full-time basis, there are other issues that are helpful to keep in mind when your main goal is to focus on the children's best interests. It's also a good idea to know where to seek support if problems arise, especially concerning legal issues.

The implications of allowing anger to drive divorce decisions

There are multiple emotions that are associated with the end of a marriage. This is true regardless of whether the divorce is amicable, but may be especially so in contentious cases. Because of the emotional nature of this life event, some people in Virginia may make decisions, specifically regarding asset division, based on their emotions without fully understanding the implications of their choice.

For example, one woman in another state may choose to forgo her claim to her husband's pension after 43 years of marriage, reportedly due to her anger regarding the situation. In equitable distribution states such as Virginia, assets are split amicably among husband and wife. The marital portion of the pension is the value of it between their wedding day and the day of the divorce complaint.

Is it possible to modify spousal support years later?

When a couple in Virginia chooses to end their marriage, there are a variety of different decisions that they must make. In some cases, one or both people may be eager to move on with their lives. This could mean they may make certain concessions -- including how much spousal support will be paid -- without much argument and sometimes without a full understanding of the future implications of such decisions.

For example, one spouse might find it fair to agree to a certain amount of spousal support at the time of the split. However, that amount could become onerous in the years that come, especially as the paying spouse considers retirement. Some agreements may include provisions that the other spouse must find employment in a certain period of time or put other limits on spousal support. Once an agreement is made, however, it may be difficult to make modifications in the future unless a person's financial situation has changed significantly. 

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Powell Radomsky, PLLC
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Fairfax, VA 22030

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