Dannenbaum Law Firm, PLLC

Arlington Family Law Blog

Study examines roots of marital dissatisfaction

For many people in Virginia, it is common knowledge that people's happiness in marriage declines over the years with the end of the "honeymoon period." While relationships do change over years of togetherness, one study casts doubt on the idea that rising marital dissatisfaction is a necessary part of spending years together. Researchers from the University of Texas and the University of Georgia aimed to study how feelings about marriage change over time. They were also interested in exploring the impact of socioeconomic factors, given the intense financial disputes that can take place during a divorce.

The researchers studied 431 couples living in a lower-income area, although the couples' financial circumstances varied. They were asked an eight-question survey on five occasions between 2009 and 2014, beginning in 2009 when all of the couples were newlyweds. The researchers found out that the common perception of marital satisfaction is questionable in many cases. Couples who began their married lives with a high level of happiness and satisfaction were more likely to maintain it. On the other hand, people who were unhappy in their marriages at the beginning were likely to remain unhappy and to think about divorce.

How parents can make adjusting to divorce easier for children

Divorce can be hard on children, but parents in Virginia may help them adjust by ensuring that the children know they are loved and that the divorce is not their fault. Parents should not try to compensate for the divorce or win favoritism by buying a child gifts. Instead, they should focus on building strong memories with their child and building a good co-parenting relationship with the other parent.

Some parents may still feel a great deal of anger during and after the divorce, but they should not let this erupt in front of the children. They should be civil to one another and avoid telling their children negative things about the other parent even when they are true. Instead, they should focus on saying positive things about the other parent or nothing at all. Parents should try to support one another in their role as co-parents, including paying child support on time and being communicative about scheduling.

How To Win Your Custody Case: How To Deal With The Guardian Ad Litem; Part 2

You are involved in a custody case. A guardian ad litem (GAL) has been appointed to the case. How should you best deal with the GAL?

You must cooperate in all respects with the GAL. If the GAL asks you to sign release forms to obtain your medical and/or psychological records, sign it immediately. If the GAL makes appointments to meet with you, be there ahead of time. Come to the meeting prepared. Provide documents that you and your lawyer believe would be helpful to the GAL, such as text messages, emails, medical records, school transcripts. Return the GAL's phone calls promptly. If the GAL wants to meet with you or your kids, do not delay.

How To Win Your Custody Case: How To Deal With The Guardian Ad Litem; Part 1

As mentioned previously, a guardian ad litem (GAL) may be appointed by the court to represent your children and investigate you, the other parent, the children, and the home itself. The purpose of the GAL is to render an opinion on important matters such as whether the parties should have joint legal custody or sole legal custody, what the parenting schedule should be, whether you, the other parent, and/or the children should enter therapy, co-parenting counseling, substance abuse counseling, parenting classes, anger management classes.

Type of compensation may impact divorce timing

Finances are among the most hotly contested issues in many Virginia divorces. For people who are paid on an hourly or straight salary basis, the timing of the divorce may have little impact on finance or property division. However, for individuals with more complicated compensation structures, the timing of the divorce and other negotiation matters may be of greater importance.

People who are paid large bonuses with clawback provisions, for example, may be able to argue against dividing the bonus funds. If the bonus money can be clawed back by the employer, then those funds might be thought of as not yet earned at the time of the divorce. In a situation where such bonus money is divided between the spouses, the divorce agreement should clearly outline what the parties' responsibilities are in the event that the clawback provision becomes relevant.

Custody Cases And The Guardian Ad Litem

In some custody cases, the court may appoint a Guardian Ad Litem or a GAL. The court has a list of trained GALs and will select a GAL from that list. A GAL is a lawyer who has gone through training to be a certified GAL. His or her job is two-fold: first, the GAL will represent the children's best interests; second, the GAL will be the eyes and ears of the court. 

Keeping the family home in a divorce

When people in Virginia consider divorce, one of their major concerns may be how to handle the family home. There are different ways for divorcing couples to divide the home, and they can vary depending on home equity and whether children are involved. In some cases, both spouses decide to sell the home and divide the proceeds as part of the asset division process of the divorce. In other cases, spouses make an agreement to keep the home temporarily in order to give the children time to adjust.

Some spouses want to keep the family home themselves even after a divorce. When one spouse wants to stay in the home, there are a number of financial considerations that can come to the forefront. One of the first steps toward working through these financial issues is determining the home's market value. In general, the spouse staying in the home will need to buy out the other spouse during the divorce process, either by obtaining an additional mortgage or exchanging other items during the property division settlement. The amount of equity in the home will determine how much needs to go to the other spouse and how much the remaining spouse will need to refinance the mortgage.

Helping your divorce case move forward smoothly

Just as there are seasons in a year, there are also seasons in life. For you, the season of being married to your spouse may be coming to an end. Though you may have intended for your marriage to last the rest of your years, many with that intention come to find that it is not what is meant to be.

Still, ending a marriage does not mean that you have to face conflict after conflict and have a process that drags on for years. Certainly, any divorce case can take time, but you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse can make the effort to help your case along. Having the goal of working through divorce smoothly could go a long way in maintaining an amicable relationship.

What Do You Do If The Other Parent Denies Or Restricts Your Visitation With Your Children

Your spouse, former spouse or the other is denying or restricting your custody time with the children, what do you do?

Do you have a court order that addresses custody? If you have court order that sets forth your custody time, review the Order and see if you are being denied the parenting time in that Order. If so, you can go to court and enforce your rights to time with the kids as set forth in the Order. You can file a motion to enforce the Order and ask the court to order the other parent to give you the time per the Order. You can also file a motion to hold the other parent in contempt of court (called a rule to show cause) for violating the court order. Violations of court orders on parenting time are taken very seriously by courts. You can ask the court to hold the other party in contempt of court, issue sanctions, increase your parenting time, get make up time for the time you missed, have the other parent pay your legal fees, pay a fine, and serve jail time. 

Denial Of Custody And Visitation With The Child

Can a parent deny the other parent of visitation with the child?

If a court order has been issued or custody agreement signed by both parties sets for the visitation, then the visitation schedule set forth in the order or agreement must be abided by. Denying or limiting visitation that is set forth in a court order or custody agreement will be taken very seriously by a court. Denying visitation can have serious legal consequences, such as losing custody or having supervised visitation. 

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