Dannenbaum Law Firm, PLLC

Arlington Family Law Blog

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. 

Custody Litigation And Settlement

Custody battles should be avoided at all costs. It should be the last resort after all efforts to settle and mediate have been exhausted. You should try to work out custody through medication with an attorney mediator, judge mediator, child psychologist, or co-parenting counselor. Of course, it takes two parents to settle and one to litigate. Despite your best efforts, you may have to go to a judge for a decision.

Custody Litigation

Custody litigation is when you go to a court to resolve custody disputes. There are different types of custody litigation. Custody litigation can result in a temporary or final order. (Note: a custody order cannot ever be final in the strictest sense. Custody is always modifiable if there is a material change in circumstance and it is the child's best interest to modify custody).

In any custody litigation, the Court must apply the criteria and factors set forth in Virginia Code Section 20-124.3, which is entitled, "The best interests of the child."

Child custody determinations require proof

Even when it's the right decision under the circumstances for a Virginia couple to go their own way, divorce can be tough on everyone, and this is especially true when children are involved. As with all issues before the family court, if the couple can agree to a child custody arrangement on their own, the court will, in most instances, allow it to stand and certify it as a final order. However, there may be valid reasons why one parent wants to restrict or deny custody to the other parent. If so, specific forms of proof will be required in an effort to persuade the judge to grant the proposed custody arrangement.

As legal professionals understand, providing the court with a written version of the argument along with supporting documentation is apt to be a successful formula. Judges review all submissions before the actual hearing, and the more the court understands a litigant's position beforehand, the better.

Helping parents raise their children as a cohesive unit

When Virginia parents get divorced, they may not always consider the impact that it can have on their children. However, parents who work together to raise their children may have a greater chance of seeing them grow up into adults who are emotionally and socially intelligent. To successfully do so, it is important for the adults to put aside their animus towards each other and focus on the needs of their sons and daughters.

Ideally, children will have roughly the same rules and expectations regardless of which parent that they are with. Consistency can create a sense of safety that can help them live up to their potential. It may also prevent a situation in which parents try to buy gifts or otherwise cater to their children out of a sense of guilt. While consistency is the goal, it doesn't mean that parenting plans can't be flexible.

How To Prepare For Mediation

Before you enter mediation, you need to discuss with your lawyer all the issues that will be discussed in mediation: what are the issues in your case; what are the marital assets/liabilities; what are your and your spouse's separate property claims; alimony or spousal support; child issues (legal custody, physical custody, other child related matters); your settlement positions be-your initial settlement positions and your range of settlement options.

Divorce Mediation

Divorce mediation is a process where you and your spouse hire a third party, typically a lawyer, a trained mediator who is not a lawyer, co parent counselor, or a retired judge who serves as a neutral party. The mediator's role is to facilitate a settlement of the issues between you and your spouse by talking with each of you together and separately and giving ideas on how to solve your issues.

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Call 703-661-9151 or use our contact form to arrange a free consultation with an experienced family law attorney.

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