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Arlington Family Law Blog

Preparation before filing for divorce

Many people in Virginia and elsewhere around the country choose to get divorced after the holidays. The number of divorce filings surges in January of each year. People that are planning to get divorced should do several things in order to properly prepare.

Prior to an appointment with a family law attorney, a person should first gather all of his or her financial information. This should include either W-2s or the last paystub of the year. People should also gather their bank account, bill and retirement account statements and their tax return for the past year. It might also be a good idea for someone to run credit reports for both him or herself and his or her spouse.

Legal separation is an option when divorce may not be

When a Virginia married couple agrees that their relationship is over, many choose to move forward with divorce. However, this may not be an option for you for many reasons, yet there are still ways you can formally end your relationship. You can do this through legal separation.

There are certain unique situations in which a legal separation is the most appropriate course of action. In fact, you can use your separation agreement as a way to lay the foundation for a future divorce, if you choose to move forward with that later on. If you believe that legal separation is the right choice for you, it is smart to fully explore all of the options available to you before making any important decisions.

Digital tracking and divorce

Technology is changing the way divorce cases are litigated in Virginia. Many people are turning to devices like GPS trackers and spyware to keep tabs on their spouses.

GPS trackers are now cheap and easy to install on vehicles. There have been many cases where individuals used one of these devices to see where their spouses were traveling. These tools can be easily hidden so that the person being spied on may have no idea. The use of GPS tracking devices may be legal if the parties are married and the device was installed on a jointly owned vehicle.

Why more couples are signing prenups

Before getting married, most Virginia couples hope that their unions will last a lifetime. However, studies show that over half of all marriages end in divorce. As more people are recognizing the reality of divorce, prenuptial agreements are becoming popular among millennials, particularly women.

According to statistics, about a third of people agree that a prenuptial agreement is a good idea, but fewer than 5 percent of married couples actually have one.

Why people choose to end their relationships

A couple in Virginia or elsewhere in the United States could get divorced for any number of reasons. However, there are seven common scenarios that result in the end of a marriage. One of the most common reasons is substance abuse, and this may mean that a person has problems with either drugs or alcohol that lead to a divorce. A lack of commitment may also make it difficult for a relationship to succeed.

For some, an unwillingness to work on a relationship may cause it to become too stressful for a person to handle. Even if a couple does feel committed to their relationship, ongoing conflict could result in a divorce. In some cases, it may be possible to resolve arguments by listening or by employing other dispute resolution tactics. Unfortunately, it is uncommon for couples to simply grow apart over time.

Divorce mythbuster: Sorting fact from fiction

Before you decided to divorce, you may have discussed the idea with friends or family members who have already navigated the process in Virginia. If so, you may have received some worthwhile advice and information about how to keep stress levels low and bounce back quickly once the court hands down your decree. You may also have been given some misinformation, however, as there are many divorce myths circulating that a lot of people believe if they don't take time to determine fact from fiction.

To make informed decisions as you enter divorce proceedings, there are several things you'll want to do ahead of time. These include seeking clarification of divorce laws in this state, making sure you're aware of your rights and also lining up support resources that you can quickly access if needed, which can include the contact information of a counselor or support group in your area.

Nesting: It might be the key to unlock your low-stress divorce

As you watched your children grow from their toddler years into pre-teens and teenagers, you've enjoyed seeing them spread their wings, make friends, increase their knowledge and set out to achieve their goals. When you sat them down to tell them you were getting divorced, one of their biggest concerns was whether they would have to move. Even a mere mention of going to a new school, leaving their current Virginia neighborhood or having to travel back and forth from your house to their other parent's seemed to cause them stress.

When you decided to divorce, both you and your spouse agreed to cooperate and compromise as necessary to keep things as low stress as possible, especially where your children are concerned. After all, you both love them, and they love both of you, and you really just want to come up with a plan that works for everyone and get on with your lives. The good news is there are several options available for the goals you have in mind and support teams who can help you accomplish them.

Divorce and Social Security

When couples in Virginia divorce, finances are often a matter of contention. This may be particularly true when it comes to dividing retirement assets, such as IRAs, 401(k)s and pension plans. In some cases, divorcing spouses who are concerned about retirement income overlook one important benefit: Social Security.

It is sometimes possible for one spouse to claim Social Security spousal benefits based on the other spouse's earnings. Being able to do this can make a difference for spouses whose earnings have been significantly less than that of their ex-spouse. Claiming benefits on the ex-spouse's earnings does not have any effect on the ex-spouse's benefit amount. The application for benefits is made directly through Social Security, and the additional income, if awarded, can make a significant difference in the financial health of someone who has retired on a limited income.

How to know if a payment is alimony

Virginia residents and others who receive alimony are often required to count it as income. Those who make such payments are generally able to take a tax deduction. Of course, a payment actually has to qualify as alimony before a person can claim that the payments are tax deductible. To qualify as alimony, a payment has to be part of the divorce decree or a similar arrangement.

Payments cannot be made to someone who files a joint tax return with the payer. The payments must also be in cash, check or money order, and the payments cannot be made to someone who lives in the same household at the time that they are made. Payments that are specifically designated as a property settlement, child support or something other than alimony do not qualify. Tax authorities may also look to determine if payments no longer need to be made after the recipient passes away.

Finding a divorce team

Divorce is understandably challenging for many people. However, some spouses have a harder time ending a marriage than others. There are several factors that could make a divorce less or more difficult, but there are some aspects of divorce that a person can control in order to make the process more bearable. Virginia residents may need to take special consideration when building a support team after a divorce.

Not everyone uses the services of a professional for a divorce, but most people still have unofficial support systems like family and friends. Some analysts believe that getting through a divorce relatively unscathed is much more likely if a spouse assembles the correct team to handle emotional and financial matters.

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