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Arlington Family Law Blog

Are you familiar with Virginia's child support guidelines?

During divorce, one of the biggest areas of conflict for you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse may be how your children will be financially supported going forward. After all, by law, both you and the other parent must play active roles in making sure that your children's monetary needs are met.

This is why child support exists. Child support is essentially a payment that a family law court orders the noncustodial parent to make to the custodial parent to assist with the expenses of rearing the children. Here is a glimpse at how the state of Virginia handles child support.

Restrictions former spouses may face during a divorce

Going through a divorce with children can be a difficult process for many Virginia parents, especially if the divorce is not amicable. What can make a divorce even more difficult, however, are the restrictions put on the former spouses. These restrictions can affect property, finances and even the ability to travel with the kids.

During the divorce, both individuals are restricted from transferring or disposing of property. This includes the family car, the house and even finances. This divorce restriction is put into place to prevent one spouse from retaliating against the other or from cleaning out a bank account. Both spouses can use funds to pay for the basic essentials, but they may be required to reimburse the other person if they make a major purchase. Furthermore, no assets can be sold unless the spouse consents or if there is a court order.

Visitation remains an option for people denied child custody

An unsuccessful bid for child custody in Virginia does not mean that the parent will never have access to their children. Parents often still have a good chance of gaining family court approval for a visitation schedule. Depending on the circumstances, visitation could allow for weekly or bi-weekly parenting time on one or two days a week. In addition, the parents could have the children on holidays or during summer vacation.

In cases where courts choose to limit access, parents might still qualify for supervised visits or virtual contact through video services like Skype. The reasons why a court might completely deny visitation include history of domestic violence, especially toward a child, a parent's previous failure to exercise visitation rights, cessation of contact with a child, termination of parental rights or abuse of drugs or alcohol.

Prenuptial agreements can work for everyone

When people in Virginia think about prenuptial agreements, they may think that such agreements are used only by celebrities, millionaires and people who have inherited a significant amount of family wealth. However, many people can find these agreements useful and helpful, even when they don't have major financial resources. A prenuptial agreement is, at its simplest, a contract made between two people before they get married that deals with the property they have at the time of the marriage.

A prenuptial agreement will include a complete list of each person's existing assets and how they should be dealt with in the case of death or divorce. While the utility of a prenup may be clear when someone with a massive bank account decides to marry, these agreements can also be useful for many others. For example, couples who have children from previous relationships may want to use a prenup to specify how certain property should be dealt with upon their death.

Challenges in saving for college after divorce

Virginia parents who are ending their marriage might be concerned about how it will affect their ability to save for their child's college education. With the expense of maintaining two households instead of one and concerns about child and spousal support, paying for college may become less of a priority. However, with tuition continuing to rise, it may be important to think about how to afford it.

Parents who have planned on their children attending expensive private colleges may need to look at state schools instead. It is generally not possible to force the other parent to pay an extremely high tuition or for graduate school. Usually, if the divorce agreement addresses college savings, it is generally limited to five years. Parents might want to look into what kind of opportunities may be offered by scholarships, grants and loans.

Handling property division in an amicable divorce

You and your soon-to-be ex-spouse most likely spent a healthy amount of time building a life together. It is likely that the two of you gathered numerous assets during your marriage. Now that the marriage has come to an end, what happens to the house, the cars and the bank accounts?

It is your responsibility to split up the assets that you and your spouse have accumulated. Many people choose to start with an inventory of property and then discuss what is fair. You may be able to peacefully and quickly reach a resolution by yourselves, or you might need some extra help. There are alternatives to divorce litigation for individuals whose situations allow it, while the traditional route of a courtroom divorce is always an option if needed.  

How prenuptial agreements may protect family wealth

When Virginia children come from wealthy families, they might feel pressured by their parents to sign a prenuptial agreement before getting married. Although parents often do this simply because they are concerned about preserving the family wealth, children might be resistant and feel this is a reflection on their parents' feelings about their future spouse.

One way parents can avoid this is by raising the issue of a prenup long before there is a potential spouse involved. This helps keeps the focus on the family legacy. Parents can begin talking to their children about prenups when they are teenagers or young adults. They may find it helpful to explain that a prenup can protect the family wealth for their own children.

Traditional marriage gender roles can be hard to break

Couples in Virginia may be more likely to divorce if they begin their relationships in traditional gender roles and the status quo suddenly changes, according to a new study conducted in Sweden. Researchers found that wives who experienced a career boost after either earning less money than their husbands were much more likely to split up.

According to relationship experts, there are a few reasons behind this. One reason is that many husbands feel threatened when their wives suddenly begin earning more money than they do. As a result, some men attempt to become more controlling or demanding of their wives, which leads to conflict. Another reason is that women who start working more no longer have as much time to devote to housework or childcare. This can also cause disagreements if husbands refuse to help pick up the slack.

The benefits and drawbacks of joint legal custody

When parents in Virginia and other parts of the country divorce, they generally work with one another to find custody and visitation arrangements that will benefit their children even when their relationships have become hostile and acrimonious. Divorcing parents may spend time negotiating physical custody and organizing visitation schedules, but they should also consider who will have legal custody of their children. While physical custody allows parents to spend time with their children, legal custody authorizes them to make important decisions about their education, health care and upbringing.

Joint legal custody arrangements can work well when divorced parents agree on significant issues such as religion, but they may not be an appropriate solution for parents who find it difficult to find common ground even when the welfare of their children is at stake. However, parents who are able to work through their differences in search of compromise set a powerful example for their children that could help them to avoid relationship problems of their own later in life.

Advantages and disadvantages of nesting

Parents in Virginia who are getting a divorce might have heard about the practice of bird nesting from the TV show "Splitting Up Together," in which a separated couple uses this child custody arrangement; in addition, actor Josh Lucas has discussed his own bird nesting arrangement in an interview. Bird nesting involves parents taking turns living in a home where the children stay full time. It can be a way to help children ease into the change of divorce, but it does require a good deal of cooperation from parents.

Some parents try nesting and find it is not for them. It generally works best if each parent can afford another place to live. One parent had to sleep on a sibling's sofa during her weeks off while her ex-husband had ample living space at his parents' house. She was also unhappy with the condition he left the house in. The two eventually transitioned to the mother living in the home full time with the child.

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