Fairfax County Divorce Attorney
The goal of any firm is to make divorce (or ending other long-term relationships) as simple and painless as possible so clients can move on with their lives. The divorce process requires considering a number of factors including division of assets, spousal support and child custody and support.
Division of Assets
Division of property during divorce can be quite difficult and can be even more complicated if there are significant assets. These assets can include houses, rental property, retirement and pension plans, stock accounts, businesses, and more.
There are a number of factors to consider when it comes to division of property, including, but not limited to state laws and the differences between separate and marital property. In general, separate property includes any property that was owned by either spouse prior to the marriage, such as an inheritance received by the husband or wife (either before or after the marriage), and gifts received by the husband or wife from someone else. Marital property includes property acquired during the marriage regardless of which spouse owns or has title to it. Reaching a negotiated settlement speeds the divorce process dramatically, and can save you money in legal fees.
State laws vary greatly in how marital property is treated and the courts in Virginia consider a number of factors when dividing the same, including, but not limited to the type of asset, how it was acquired, how each party contributed to the care and maintenance of the asset monetarily and non-monetarily, and the assets liquidity. Reaching a negotiated settlement regarding property can save you money in legal fees; however, in cases where you cannot reach an agreement, the court will decide and impose a division between the parties that is as fair as possible. In either scenario, there are a number of variants and factors to consider when dividing property, so consulting a qualified attorney is critical.
Spousal Support (Alimony)
Spousal support is also a consideration when it comes to the division of assets. There is no one rule for all marriages, so whether spousal support is going to be required is something that is going to depend on your specific situation.
The purpose of alimony is to help the receiving spouse maintain financially stability after a divorce. In general, courts award alimony in an amount that is “fair” under the circumstances and that the law requires.
Some considerations here include the standard of living established during the marriage, whether one spouse does not have enough property and income to provide for his or her “reasonable” needs, and whether the providing spouse has enough property or income to meet these needs. Finally, the issue of spousal support requires each partner to make a complete disclosure of their financial status including net worth.
Child Custody & Support
Child custody and support is more often a point of consideration than spousal support. In cases where there are minor children, issues of child custody and child support are going to be at the core of a divorce agreement.
In the past, states have handled matters of child custody and support in family court. However, the states have moved toward uniform standards concerning these issues. Moreover, depending on the child’s age and maturity level his or her wishes are considered by the court. The ultimate consideration is what is in the best interest of the child. In many cases, divorcing couples can reach an agreement for joint custody.
Child support is an ongoing payment made by a parent for the financial support of a child after a divorce or the end of another relationship. Depending on the state, the parent who has custody of the children is paid by the non-custodial parent. In the case of joint custody, the parent with the higher income generally pays child support.
Child support and custody can be a contentious issue in a divorce, and an attorney with expertise in divorce and family law can guide the parties to amicably resolve these matters.
Now that same-sex marriage is the law of the land, dissolving these relationships presents unique challenges including the full length of the relationship before a formal marriage.
A same-sex divorce can involve more legal disputes than that of an opposite-sex couple simply because of the relatively new legal complications. These include when the partnership or marriage began and the rules that apply to pre-marital assets and debts. Particularly, courts struggle to settle child custody disputes in cases where one parent is the biological parent and the other parent is an adoptive parent.
Other Methods of Resolving Conflicts at Divorce
There are ways to resolve divorce conflicts outside of the courts. There are three basic methods including negotiation, mediation, and a new approach known as collaborative divorce.
Put simply, negotiation involves the parties working through a dispute until it is resolved. While divorcing spouses can do this on their own, lawyers can and do play a role in these negotiations.
Mediation, on the other hand, is a form of negotiation that involves a neutral party known as a mediator. A mediator is not a judge or an arbitrator and does not make decisions or issue rulings. The mediator works with both parties to resolve legal disputes, communicate more effectively and ultimately reach an agreement.
Finally, in a collaborative divorce, each party has an attorney that assists in the negotiation by acting as advocates for their clients. Both spouses and both attorneys must agree in writing that they will not take the case to court and will settle it instead.In the end, a collaborative divorce will only work when all the parties agree to not have a referee or judge manage the divorce.
The Bottom Line
Divorce is not something most couples plan on, but the statistics for long lasting marriages say otherwise. In the case of a divorce, the issues are complex; and even more so by the emotions involved. In the end, a successful divorce is one that can be handled amicably, and this requires attorneys with the expertise and compassion to make it happen. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.