July 12, 2016
Adultery is Still a Player In Virginia Divorce Courts
Adultery still a defense to Spousal Support:
Virginia Court of Appeals Reverses Spousal Support Award for Adulterous Wife.
In the recent case of Mundy v. Mundy, the Virginia Court of Appeals reversed a lower court ruling granting spousal support to an adulterous wife. Mundy v. Mundy, 66 Va. App. 177, 184 (Va. Ct. App. 2016) Although the husband earned $850,000.00 per year, and the wife did not work outside the home, the court of appeals determined that given wife’s admission, and the lower courts finding, that Mrs. Mundy had committed adultery with “multiple” sexual partners, that the denial of spousal support would not be a “manifest injustice” under VA Code §20-201.1 (B).
This is in line with a line of cases beginning with Bandas v. Bandas, wherein an attorney husband was found to pay spousal support to his adulterous wife because of the relative inequities of income would produce a “manifest injustice” economically to deny her spousal support. Bandas v. Bandas, 16 Va. App. 427, 434 (Va. Ct. App. 1993)
What we can take from this new case is that adultery is still a player (no pun intended) on the divorce battlefield. Clearly, the circumstances of the adultery, multiple partners, and the relative lack of fault on the part of the husband in the dissolution of the marriage are factors the courts in Virginia will still reply upon.
Cravens and Noll, an experienced Virginia law firm, takes great pride in the trust our clients place in our counsel. Before taking a case, Cravens and Noll lawyers provide free consultations for clients call (804) 330-9220 to schedule.
November 7, 2013
Considering a name change post-divorce
If you and your spouse have decided to go your separate ways, you are likely facing a host of decisions about what your future will now look like as a single individual. One of the more intimately personal decisions you may be contemplating is whether or not to change your name after your divorce is finalized. You may be a woman who has taken your husband’s name for many years, or you may be a man who has hyphenated or otherwise altered your last name to include your wife’s. Either way, the choice to keep or change your current last name should be yours alone and should be made with your best interests in mind.
Some people change their names in the wake of divorce in order to begin again symbolically and practically. They may not want their names associated with their former spouses. Or, they may simply find power and self-confidence in the switch. If you ultimately choose to change your name, please contact your attorney so that the correct paperwork can be filed.
On the other hand, some people choose to keep their married names for a variety of reasons. If your children share your spouse’s name, perhaps you will want to keep your last name the same as well. You may also simply identify with your married name or feel that you have invested in what that name has come to mean for you. Names are deeply personal assets and should be changed only when individuals feel that it is important to do so.
Source: Huffington Post, “Should You Keep Your Ex’s Last Name After Divorce?” Oct. 26, 2013
May 1, 2013
Why relaxation is critical during the divorce process
An increasing number of medical studies indicate that managing stress is essential for personal health and wellbeing. However, studies related more specific life events also confirm this general advice. For instance, failing to manage stress effectively when going through a divorce can impact the process in a myriad of ways.
For example, if your stress level is overwhelming you, you are likely to sleep less, experience poor health and be generally less able to focus on the process itself. You may then become more irritable and prone to rash decision-making. Months of negotiations can be undone in a single moment of rash behavior. Therefore, it is critical that you prioritize relaxation during the divorce process, as a failure to do so could leave you with an unfair settlement or undesirable custody order.
If you are already deeply stressed, it can be difficult to imagine relaxing. However, engaging in a few simple activities can dramatically lower your stress level temporarily. Choosing to prioritize whichever of these activities works for you over a period of time will help to bring your stress level down overall.
Consider getting fresh air every day that you possibly can. Taking a walk, reading a book on a restaurant patio or going for a bike ride are all great ways to change your scenery and breathe a little easier. Also, make time for your hobbies. Whether you woodwork, knit, paint or garden, this is not a period in your life where you can emotionally afford to neglect your hobbies, even if you can only spare ten minutes a day.
In general, it is important to take excellent care of yourself during your divorce process and to remain as relaxed as humanly possible. This may seem like challenging advice, but the outcome of your divorce settlement or custody process may depend on you taking it seriously.
Source: Huffington Post, “Divorce Advice: 15 Ways To Relax During A Split, According To Readers,” Apr. 30, 2013
December 23, 2012
Helping children of divorced parents navigate the holidays
By Monday, children all across the nation will be on winter vacation, if they have not already been released for their holiday. Teenagers and younger children of parents who have chosen to divorce will find themselves in a potentially stressful split between parental households in the coming weeks. Alternatively, some will wish that they could spend time with both parents but for whatever reason, this will not be possible and that is stressful in and of itself.
How can concerned parents help their children navigate the holidays marked by either of these situations? There are several things that parents and loved ones can do to make the holiday brighter rather than more stressful.
First and foremost, it is important to acknowledge that a child’s desire to be with their other parent or to actively communicate with him or her at this time is reasonable. No matter what has occurred between the child’s parents or even the other parent and the child, a strong biological urge exists that children seek their parents’ attention and affection. This urge can be particularly strong during the holidays. Making the child feel guilty for seeking out their other parent in various ways will only make him or her feel alienated, confused and misunderstood.
In addition, it is important to share your own traditions with your children and to celebrate the season with them, even if you will not be together on the actual dates of whatever holidays you choose to observe. Children need to know that whatever may be going on in your life, you will make the effort to celebrate with them and appreciate their presence. Children of divorced parents often internalize their fears and concerns about how their parents are coping with their own stress. Taking time to celebrate with your kids will reinforce that they are important to you.
Source: Huffington Post, “How To Help Your Kids Survive Their First Holiday Season With Divorced Parents” Susan Saper Galamba, Dec. 17, 2012
May 14, 2012
Tax Issues Common for Divorced Couples
Divorce is a difficult time for most for many different reasons. A common issue facing couples during divorce is tax issues, and if taxes are not handled properly by both sides it can lead to an IRS audit. Tax time can be stressful and confusing for anyone. Add on the issue of divorce and it can lead to a whole new host of problems, especially if both parties wait until the last minute, and one or the other is not willing to hand over tax information.
One question that comes up during the process is how to file; one can choose to file either married jointly or file separately. This can have important implications either way. If parties file jointly, they are responsible for the other person when it comes to taxes. On the other hand, it can get expensive to file separately if parties pay a CPA or private party to do their taxes for them.
Other issues that come up in tax filings are who may claim head of household and who gets the deduction for any children a couple may have. Generally, the head of household claim goes to the parent who has the children more than half of the year. However, parties have to be careful because they both cannot claim head of household on their taxes.
One major issue that divorced taxpayers generally face is when and where to file taxes, particularly with more complex arrangements. Since divorced couples rarely file or prepare their taxes together, this can get very tricky. This can be especially difficult if the IRS decides to conduct an audit of the parties. Family law attorneys recommend a specific and important strategy: file first and force the other person to react.
Source: “Divorced Couples Are Walking Right Into These Tax Traps,” Mandi Woodruff, Business Insider, Apr. 3, 2012
March 16, 2012
Dividing Military Retirement Benefits During a Virginia Divorce
As war, conflicts and deployments weary our nation’s Army, Marines, Navy and Air Force, military families here in Virginia and throughout the United States are shouldering the burden as well. And that burden is taking its toll – over the last ten years, military divorce rates have risen to 3.7%, more than a whole percentage from 2001.
The number may seem small at first glance, but military divorces are even more common than in families not tied to one of the services. As with many divorces, the division of assets including the division of a retirement pension in a military divorce is a common source of conflict.
If one or both spouses is or was in the military, upon divorce, the military pension is one of the assets that must be divided if it is considered marital property. And, like other marital property, up to 50 percent of a military pension may be awarded to your spouse.
Dividing and Receiving A Military Pension
What part of a military pension is considered marital property depends on the overlap of the marriage with military service. If you were married for the service member’s entire military career, then his or her pension would like be divided in half, with a 50 percent portion be awarded to each spouse. However, if you were married for only 10 years during the service member’s career, only the amount of the pension accrued during the marriage would be marital property and subject to division.
For couples who’ve been married for 10 or more years, upon divorce, the U.S. government will send the ex-spouse’s share directly to him or her. If your marriage was under 10 years, the government expects that the former military personnel will send you a portion on a monthly basis. Whether relying on a former spouse to send you a monthly amount is a good option or not is something that should be discussed with your Virginia military divorce attorney.
Don’t Forget About Survivor Benefits
An important part of a military divorce is ensuring that the non-military spouse applies for survivor benefits, if eligible. Failing to do so may mean the loss of the share of a military pension awarded in divorce upon the death of the service member.
Source: The Wall Street Journal, “Divorce: Splitting Up a Rich Military Pension,” Ellen E. Schultz, March 9, 2012
December 20, 2011
Factors Courts Consider When Awarding Virginia Alimony (Spousal Support)
There are two support issues that are dealt with in Virginia divorce proceeding: child support and spousal support. Spousal support is commonly known as alimony, but may also be referred to as maintenance. Several factors are considered by the courts when determining whether an award of spousal support is appropriate.
Both spouses in a marriage may be eligible for spousal support once a divorce is filed with the appropriate Virginia court. A pendente lite order for spousal support may be issued to require one spouse to make support payments, including continuing to provide healthcare coverage, while the divorce is pending.
A full disclosure and discussion of your financial situation, both during your marriage as well as what you expect it to be after the marriage ends, with your Richmond spousal support lawyer can help you understand whether you meet basic criteria for the court to award spousal support as well as answer any questions you may have about the amount or duration of any award.
In deciding whether to order spousal support, the court will consider a variety of factors as defined by Virginia statute, including:
- The standard of living during the marriage and each spouse’s ability to maintain that standard upon divorce
- The age, physical condition and mental condition of the divorcing spouses
- The effect the age, physical condition or mental condition of any children will have on the ability for one spouse to work outside the home
- The distribution of marital property
- The earning capacity of both spouses
- The time that may be necessary for one spouse to receive the training and education to become self-sufficient
- Contributions by one spouse to the education or career of the other
- The choice for one parent to remain in the home and parent any children while the other spouse worked
These are just a few of the many factors that are written out specifically in the Virginia Code that a court must consider before awarding spousal support.
A Virginia family law attorney can address any questions you have about qualifying for spousal support. There are additional considerations to be made regarding the length or duration of an award of spousal support as well as whether any awarded amount should be distributed as periodic payments or as a lump sum.
September 30, 2011
A Virginia Divorce Doesn’t Have to Hurt Your Small Business
While divorce is of course difficult on families, a small business or a family-owned business may also bear a substantial burden from divorce as well. The founder of a software consulting firm recently recounted that his divorce cost his small business almost a quarter of his annual revenue, simply due to the time he had to be away dealing with issues related to his divorce.
Issues related to the ownership structure of your business, each spouse’s role in the company and the time period when business assets were acquired may all need attention and resolution during your divorce process. If questions regarding the business were not addressed prior to or during the marriage through a valid pre-nuptial or post-nuptial agreement, they will need to be addressed at the end of the marriage through the divorce proceedings.
A Virginia No-Fault Divorce May be a Lifeline for Your Small Business
One year ago, no-fault divorce became available in all 50 states. A no-fault, or uncontested divorce allows Virginia couples to seek a resolution to their divorce that is as simple and efficient as possible.
When one or both people are running a small business, taking time away from work to argue over assets or child support issues can have a major impact on the continued success of the company. Working with experienced Richmond divorce attorneys through a no-fault divorce allows you to remain in control of your divorce through mediation and negotiation, rather than long, drawn-out court battles.
Divorces that involve small businesses often involve high-asset individuals and complex valuation issues that must be addressed by a team of professionals. While it is impossible to say exactly how long a divorce will take, from start to finish, because each couple is different, a divorce doesn’t have to be the end of your small business.
June 30, 2011
Dividing Assets Before Divorce… Even Before Marriage
More weddings occur during the month of June during any other month. Unfortunately, that doesn’t necessarily mean that April and May see more visits to Virginia family law attorneys to discuss the benefits of a prenuptial agreement.
A prenuptial agreement is an important asset protection and planning tool for everyone considering marriage. Many couples are waiting longer to get married; have established careers, own a home or have accumulated substantial liabilities. Others may have previously been married and have children from their first marriage. When established properly prior to marriage, a valid prenup can protect what you have worked hard to build, including your family and your assets.
Of course, no one entering marriage wants to plan for the marriage to fail, but financial disputes are one of the key reasons that marriages end in divorce. Answering tough financial questions prior to the marriage may in fact make your marriage more likely to succeed.
Planning for the Future Does Not Mean Planning for Divorce
A prenuptial agreement, when drafted and executed properly, can determine issues related to assets and property while you and your soon-to-be-spouse are not pressured by the stress and emotion of a divorce. But, there are several pieces to an effective prenup, including:
- The agreement must be in writing and signed by both parties.
- Both parties must have entered into the agreement voluntarily. If one party is coerced into signing, the agreement may be invalidated.
- Each person must be given a full picture of the others assets and debts. Hiding or withholding financial information can invalidate a prenup.
- The agreement cannot be so unfair as to make one spouse a pauper.
When most enter into a marriage, the intention is to remain married until death do them part. However, if your marriage does end in divorce, a valid prenuptial agreement may allow you and your spouse to proceed more smoothly through what will likely be a very difficult time with a no contest divorce, saving a substantial amount of time, money and heartache down the road.
When discussing the division of assets that will become effective, if at all, at a potentially much later date in the future, there is no substitute for the guidance of an experienced family law attorney.