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Arlington Family Law Blog

Child support modification

Many judges in Virginia award child support to custodial parents when approving a divorce decree. If the non-custodial parent experiences a change in income, he or she may be eligible to request a modification of the original decree. However, the change will not occur automatically. The parent requesting a modification must file a petition with the court that granted the original decree.

Either parent may seek a modification of a previous order when there has been a material change in circumstances. Such a modification may be temporary or permanent, depending on the facts of the case. Examples of circumstances that might warrant a change in previous child support orders include a significant change in the child's needs, remarriage of one or both parents, a change in child support laws or job loss.

Distribution of assets has to be fair in Virginia

One of the most challenging parts of going through a divorce is figuring out who will get what in the end. This is true no matter the number of assets you and your spouse have. It is also true no matter the value of these assets.

The simplest way of dealing with the distribution of assets in Virginia is for you and your future ex to determine on your own how you will divide the property between yourselves. However, as the majority of couples cannot amicably determine how to handle their property division issues, the situation often ends up in court. Either way, understanding your rights and state law when it comes to the distribution of property is critical.

Income disparity and divorce

Some Virginia couples may have a significant disparity in income. Although usually it is the husband making more money, women are taking the lead in this regard in increasing numbers. As the number of two-career couples grows, spouses may start to argue about issues such as child care and housework. If these arguments lead to divorce, the income disparity may become an issue.

There are steps people can take to protect themselves financially in such an event. Talking openly about finances is important. Couples may also want to consider a postnuptial agreement that details how property will be divided in case of a divorce. Without this agreement, state law may determine how property is divided.

Getting finances in order for divorce

Virginia residents who are facing the end of their marriage might wonder what financial steps should be taken in preparation. Friends and relatives might make suggestions, but divorce laws differ among states. Seeking advice from legal and financial professionals may better prepare them. People should also look at their household income and expenses. This can help in putting together a budget and anticipating how property might be divided.

Gathering documentation may help. This includes pay stubs, tax returns, investment paperwork, information on loans and bank statements. Getting this in order ahead of time may be helpful if the divorce turns acrimonious. If one spouse withholds financial information, there may be legal ways to get the information released.

Employment situations for husbands a major issue in a divorce

Divorce happens frequently in Virginia and throughout the nation. With that, researchers try to discover common denominators as to why. For around four decades, women have been better equipped to leave a marriage because they became more independent and less reliant on their husbands. This changed the social perception of divorce.

However, research has shown that the husband's employment status is a significant issue. Data spanning 46 years and more than 6,300 couples across the country was examined by a Harvard professor of sociology. With census data, the level of dependence women had on their husbands in these marriages was assessed. It found that a women who worked did not equal a greater chance that the couple would divorce.

Couples are increasingly splitting over politics

According to a polling firm based in Virginia, couples are fighting more than usual about politics since the last presidential election. The firm conducted a survey of 1,000 people during one week in April and found that around 10 percent of all couples and 22 percent of millennial couples reported ending relationships because of political disagreements.

A divorce attorney in New York reported a similar anecdotal experience, saying that she had not seen so many divorces arise from political disagreements in her previous 35 years in her field of practice. More than 20 percent of people in the Wakefield survey said they knew another couple for whom the election had a direct, negative effect on their relationship.

Links between gray divorce and financial status

Older Virginia residents who are feeling dissatisfied with their marriage has plenty of company. The trend known as gray divorce has been making headlines since the publication of a study from the National Center for Family & Marriage Research in 2012. Building upon this research that showed rising numbers of older people ending their marriages, the Institute for Family Studies investigated the causes of these later-in-life divorces.

Although many have speculated that empty nests, retirement and longer lifespans have contributed to the downfall of marriages among the over-50 demographic, researchers from the institute identified financial issues as an indicator of gray divorce. The results of a longitudinal study of over 5,000 couples found factors that property ownership significantly lowered the incidence of divorce. People with at least $250,000 in assets divorced 38 percent less often than couples with $50,000 or less in assets. Essentially, financial security protected people from splitting after decades of marriage.

Substance abuse and child custody orders

Virginia divorced parents who have worries about the welfare of their children while they are in the care of the other parent who has substance abuse problems may have legal remedies. They should know how they can protect their children without violating a current child custody order and at what point family courts can become involved.

The courts will usually address a parent's substance abuse during hearings to determine child custody. Allegations of substance abuse will also be addressed if complaints are submitted to the court that generated the child custody order or to a child protective services agency.

Prenups may protect a person from their spouse's debt

For Virginia couples looking to get married, it can be important to understand the benefits of prenuptial and postnuptial agreements. This is especially true if one future spouse does not have money managing skills and is at risk for racking up debt. While they are not foolproof, a prenup or postnup can help a spouse protect the assets that they had prior to the marriage. These documents can also determine who will be responsible for any debt in the event that the marriage does not last.

A prenuptial agreement is signed before the couple gets married. These documents can help the couple determine which assets were owned prior to the marriage and help ensure that they stay separate. Furthermore, they also establish who will pay for certain debts even if the debt is incurred after the wedding. In some states, like Virginia, couples can also sign an agreement after the wedding has already taken place. This agreement, called a postnuptial agreements, also specifies who is responsible for certain debt.

How a prenuptial agreement can protect an inheritance

There are several ways that people in Virginia might attempt to protect family property in case of a divorce. People should not mix an inheritance with the marital funds. This includes using an inheritance to purchase items or pay for services, such as buying or renovating a home, even if the money remains in a separate account. Once they are used to pay for shared property, the funds themselves might be considered marital property.

Another way to protect an inheritance is for it to be placed in a trust. However, people might also want to create a prenuptial agreement with their spouse-to-be. This would not only protect an inheritance but any other property that a person brings into the marriage.

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