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Arlington Family Law Blog

Dividing debt during your divorce

Aside from issues concerning your children, one of the most contentious elements of a divorce is the division of marital property. In Virginia and in most states, marital property is any asset you acquired from the date of your marriage. This may be a house you purchased together, appreciation of your spouse's business or interest you earned on your individual checking account. Unless you have a prenuptial agreement to keep those items separate, they are on the table during a divorce.

Following the same principal, a Virginia family court will equitably divide all joint debts accumulated during your marriage. Equitable division does not necessarily mean equal, and you may end up responsible for paying on a joint credit card or other debt your spouse acquired alone. Likewise, a judge may rule that your spouse will take over the mortgage payments, for example, even though the loan is in both of your names. This is a risky situation you want to avoid.

Explaining the different types of child support cases

Not everyone in Virginia receiving child support payments gets their funds in the same way. Some recipients draw funds directly from a non-custodial parent, and others get payments from the state. This is because there are four different types of child support cases. Each type involves different payment arrangements and circumstances. Having a better understanding of what options are available can help parents or legal guardians in need of child support have a better idea of how assistance may be provided.

If child support is established and maintained privately following a divorce, it's referred to as a non-IV-D case. With IV-D cases, the custodial parent receives assistance from the Office of Child Support Enforcement. This may involve determining paternity, finding the parent who does not have custody or enforcing an existing order. A non-IV-D case may become an IV-D case if unpaid or outstanding support payments need to be collected.

Millennial couples struggling with student loan debt

Some millennials in Virginia might be struggling with student loan debt, and it could be affecting their marriages. According to a survey by the website Student Loan Hero, over 33 percent of people with student loan debt cited debt and financial issues as a factor in the divorce while 13 percent specifically blamed student loans.

The college class of 2017 owes more than $39,000 in student loans while student loan debtors on average have a balance of more than $34,000. In a different survey of student loan debtors, more than 40 percent of respondents reported fighting about money with a partner, and almost a quarter said they did not tell their partner about the debt. Nearly 1 in 5 said lying to a partner about finances was not wrong.

Types of divorces and how long they might take

Virginians who are wanting to get divorced might wonder how long they should expect their cases to take. The length of a divorce will depend on how the process is completed.

People who are able to file their divorce papers on their own together may expect the process to take a few months. However, this is not a good method for people who have children together or those who have disputes over how their property should be divided. People who are going through an amicable divorce but who still have some issues that they need to work out may choose to mediate their divorces with the help of a mediator. Mediated divorce cases may be fairly quick if the couples are able to negotiate. If they are not, the divorces may still drag on for long periods of time.

Here is what you should know before a Virginia divorce proceeding

You are prepared to move forward with the divorce process. After all, you are ready to move on with your own life. However, where exactly do you start?

Virginia laws govern the circumstances under which married couples in the state can get divorced. Here is a look at what requirements you must meet before you can proceed with the dissolution of a marriage in Old Dominion.

Alimony and post-2018 changes to tax law

Tax laws can have significant impacts on how a divorce settlement is negotiated, especially for couples in Virginia with significant assets. Due to tax law changes that are scheduled to go into effect on New Year's Day in 2019, many couples are accelerating their plans to divorce in order to finalize their agreements before 2018 is over.

One of the most significant changes to tax laws for couples deciding to divorce is the way that alimony or spousal support will be treated under federal income tax rules. Currently and in the past, spousal support was tax-deductible for the paying spouse. For people in high tax brackets, this deduction often makes a major difference in their annual tax bill, enabling them to pay a higher amount in spousal support while reaping the benefits on their tax returns. In the current setup, the recipient of alimony payments pays taxes on that income. In general, these taxes were paid in a lower bracket, and because this income is taxable, it could be invested in an IRA.

How keeping the home in a divorce may be beneficial

Women in Virginia may be advised by professionals to resist the temptation to keep the family home after a divorce. According to one study, in some cases, it may be financially beneficial for them to do so. Some women may want to keep the house because it offers greater stability for their children. They may also have a sentimental attachment to the home.

Divorce often means a lower standard of living for people, and that may continue into retirement. The Center for Retirement Research found that in households where there has been a divorce, wealth is around 30 percent lower. People are also 5 percent more likely to run out of assets after divorce. The exception is women who remain single into retirement, and they tend to be in the same place financially as never-married women.

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.

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