Virginia Beach Divorce

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Divorce Attorneys in Virginia Beach

Divorce can make you worry about your financial future and, if children are involved, your role as a parent. Divorce can also lead to a wide variety of emotions, including frustration, anger, anxiety, and sadness. There can also be some confusion about what you should do next.

Negotiate a fair and equitable arrangement and division of property with our compassionate Virginia Beach family law attorneys. Our attorneys at the family law offices of Melone Hatley, P.C. can guide you every step of the way. We can help smooth over the complexities of the Virginia divorce process.

If you are facing separation and divorce, contact our office today or schedule a call with one of our client services coordinators.

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Contested Divorce

A divorce can be contested for a number of reasons. First, you and your spouse may disagree on the grounds for divorce. Grounds for divorce in Virginia Beach include cruelty, desertion/abandonment, adultery, or a felony conviction that results in incarceration of at least one year. The qualifications for each are as follows.


Adultery must be proven by clear and convincing evidence. It requires a higher standard of proof than other grounds for divorce. Proof of adultery may include admissions from the other party, evidence of messages sent, photographs, or videos. Adultery cases can be complex to prove. If proven, adultery can act as a bar to a claim for spousal support.


Cruelty can be verbal or physical abuse. Threats of physical harm, such as domestic violence, can be grounds for a divorce from bed and board, but not a final divorce. Once the parties have been separated for one year, they can petition for a final divorce based on separation.


To prove desertion or abandonment, you must prove more than just the breaking of cohabitation. If your spouse leaves the marital home and all financial obligations behind, they may be found to have deserted the marriage.

Felony Conviction

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To get a divorce based on a felony conviction, the conviction must result in a period of incarceration for at least one year.
Even if the grounds for the divorce are not contested, any number of issues may be disputed between the parties, requiring a contested hearing. Among the potential disputes are the financial division of assets and debts, custody and visitation of minor children, and child support and spousal support/alimony issues.

A contested case is initiated by filing a Complaint for Divorce and serving the complaint to the other side. Once your complaint is served, the other side will have an opportunity to file an answer and a counter complaint for divorce.. In some cases, an initial temporary motion, called a pendente lite motion, may be necessary to get a temporary ruling in place while the parties wait for trial.

During a contested case, the parties can engage in discovery, which is the process of requesting and exchanging financial documents and other requests regarding the evidence to be presented at trial. Both parties are entitled to a disclosure from one another regarding their finances and any other evidence they intend to introduce to the court.

Who Receives Custody of the Children in a Virginia Beach Divorce?

Child custody is always awarded based on what the judge feels is in the best interests of the child. The judge will consider many factors when deciding where the child will live and how the children should be parented. These include, but may not be limited to, the child’s relationship with each parent, the parents’ mental health, the role each parent has played in raising the child to this point, and, if the child is old and mature enough, the child’s own wishes.
Judges may decide between several options in a child custody case. One parent may have primary custody of the child, or the parents might share custody. The courts like to see parents continue to co-parent where possible. If the situation gets too contentious or it is unclear whether either parent is the proper choice, the courts may appoint a guardian ad litem during the divorce process to determine how to meet the child’s best interests.

What About Child Support?

Even if you have joint custody of your child, one parent may have to pay child support. This is determined and awarded based on various factors in each case. Child support is intended to allow the child to maintain their prior standard of living. The courts will consider the number of children involved, the incomes of both parents, and related childcare costs such as health insurance, tuition, housing, clothing, and necessities.
The court will also consider whether a parent is paying child support for a child from another relationship and the amount of time the child spends with the non-custodial parent. The courts have the discretion to consider specific circumstances regarding increasing or decreasing support orders.

What if I Need a Protective Order for My Child?

Protective orders come in various forms regardless of where you live in Virginia, from Richmond to Fairfax. A judge issues all protective orders in Virginia. If your child is in immediate danger from domestic abuse, sexual abuse, or another potentially harmful home situation, the judge may issue an emergency protective order while the custody case is determined.

Who Pays Spousal Support in a Virginia Beach Divorce?

Alimony, or spousal support, is awarded by a judge and is based on a specific formula that accounts for the incomes of both parties and the length of the marriage. Judges can award temporary support while the divorce is pending, as well as temporary or permanent support after the divorce is finalized. The intent is to ensure that the recipient spouse can make ends meet and maintain the standard of living enjoyed during the marriage.

The two types of spousal support include rehabilitative support and permanent support. Rehabilitative support allows the spouse to get the job training or education needed to support themselves and become financially independent. Permanent support is granted to spouses who cannot self-support, usually because they are too old, have a disability, or have been out of the job market too long.

Your Virginia Beach divorce lawyer can guide you through seeking spousal support and other divorce issues like property division, or equitable distribution, by providing legal advice and quality representation. Contact Melone Hatley at our Virginia Beach office for help with your family law matters and the see the difference our team can for you. Call us at 757-296-0580 or fill out our online contact form to ask a question or schedule an appointment today.

What Happens to Property in a Virginia Beach Divorce?

When you get divorced, your marital property is subject to equitable distribution divorce laws. This means the courts will distribute the property as it sees fair, allowing both to maintain their prior standard of living. Property division can be one of the most contentious legal matters in a divorce case.

While a legal separation agreement is not required in Virginia Beach, you and your spouse can create one to help determine how you will divide marital property. Your lawyer can help with these discussions to protect your right to equitable property division.
Military divorce cases can be even more complex as they deal with additional laws regarding spousal rights and pensions. If you are getting a military divorce, you should speak with our experienced military divorce lawyer to understand your options.

Questions regarding divorce issues? Contact our office today or schedule a call with one of our client services coordinators.

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Three Reasons to Hire Legal Representation in Virginia Beach

There are many reasons to hire an experienced Hampton Roads law firm with practice areas in family law. At Melone Hatley, our Virginia Beach divorce attorneys have years of experience in these areas. Here are three reasons to hire our law practice to help you through the divorce process.

You Have an Estate Plan

When you get divorced in Virginia, the law usually excludes your ex-spouse from being an executor of your will. If you want to keep them as part of your estate plan, or if you need to appoint a new executor, you must redo your paperwork. A qualified divorce lawyer can help you do just that.

You Need Legal Guidance

Collaborative divorces are beyond rare. Almost every divorce ends up contested in some fashion. When you need to fight for your rights regarding marital property, spousal support, or other legal issues in a divorce, our attorneys have extensive experience navigating these waters.

You Have Children

Protecting your parental rights regarding child custody or child support or protecting your child from domestic abuse (or an irresponsible former spouse) are among the most difficult parts of a divorce. We know how to help you get the parenting time you deserve so that your child maintains a good standard of living with nurturing care throughout their life.

Your Spouse Already Has Representation. You Need It, Too

The biggest reason to seek help from a qualified family law and divorce attorney in Virginia Beach is that your spouse has probably already retained their own legal services. If you face a divorce and do not have an attorney, you are at a disadvantage in negotiating everything from child custody to who gets the house.

At Melone Hatley, we take great pride in the compassionate, caring, and committed attorney-client relationships we build, and we will be your partner through the divorce process.

We will fight for a fair and equitable separation for you and will be the compassionate ear you need the whole time. Call our Virginia Beach attorneys today at 757-296-0580 or fill out our online form to schedule an appointment with a member of our team. We serve all of Hampton Roads, including Chesapeake, Norfolk, Suffolk, Newport News, Hampton, and Portsmouth.

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