Powell Radomsky, PLLC

Fairfax Family Law Blog

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. 

Temporary child and spousal support order for Kevin Garnett

Most people in Virginia who have gone through a divorce would likely claim that, although the process can be difficult, it was in their best interest to choose that path. While there are some couples who may be able to come to an agreement without asking the court to intervene, there are others who will need that intervention. For example, a family court recently ordered former NBA player Keven Garnett to pay $100,000 a month in child and spousal support.

Garnett's estranged wife filed for divorce earlier this year. In her filing, she asked for physical custody of their children. Additionally, she asked for $146,000 in spousal support and $46,000 for child support, claiming that she will have the children 95% of the time. Garnett was recently ordered to pay $100,000 total each month until a permanent deal can be made.

Retirement considerations in a Virginia divorce

People in Virginia and across the country often spend a great deal of time planning for their future retirement. These plans are often made on the assumption that a married couple will remain in their relationship. The reality is, however, that many couples will choose to seek a divorce. In fact, the Pew Research Center claims that the rate of divorce for those aged 50 and over have doubled over the last three decades, potentially creating concerns about how the end of a marriage will impact retirement.

While the family home's connection to retirement issues may not be immediately apparent, for many couples, the home is one of the largest assets. When a couple chooses to end their marriage, one person may choose to keep the home, buying out the other. To do so, the person retaining the home may have to take out a mortgage, creating a complicated financial situation. Fortunately, there are options that could help, potentially including a reverse mortgage.

Money and divorce

Many experts say the primary cause for conflict in a marriage is money. When two people can't come together over how to handle shared marital finances, the strain is often too much on the relationship. Couples and other sources frequently reference finances as a cause of divorce.

However, couples here in Virginia can take steps to prepare themselves for any issues that might arise. Just knowing some of the common financial causes of stress on a marriage can be helpful. If you are wondering about the financial status of your own relationship, know that there are two main categories of money problems in a relationship.

How is spousal support determined in Virginia?

If you are like most people in Virginia, you have likely spent a great deal of time and effort into planning for the future. Unfortunately, this concern can prevent some people from taking action in their life that could ultimately result in more happiness and less conflict. That is, some people may delay seeking a divorce over financial concerns. In a situation such as this, having an experienced family law attorney on their side can help as they address their financial concerns, including whether and how much spousal support one party must pay.

Each individual case is unique. Additionally, judges often have a great deal of discretion in the decisions that they make. Because the decision could have a significant impact on your financial stability -- whether you think you are owed spousal support or may have to pay it -- the attorneys at Powell Radomsky, PLLC, are here to help.

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