Family law issues can be complex and loaded with legal jargon you do not understand. Virginia has enormous volumes of laws surrounding family matters, and they can change your entire world and turn your life upside down. Knowing your rights in family law cases is one thing but putting that knowledge into practice is something else entirely. An experienced family law attorney offers legal advice and legal services to navigate these waters. A family lawyer in Richmond, VA at the law office of Melone Hatley, P.C. represents people across the area. Our team is ready to listen to you.
When you have issues with your spouse, estate planning, the courts, or any other legal matter involving family issues, calling a law firm with practice areas in family law can be the best call you can make.
Divorce lawyers and family attorneys can protect your rights and always have your best interests in mind when dealing with your spouse or the courts. Your attorney will stand up for you and ensure you do not make costly critical mistakes.
Choosing a law firm that personally speaks to your values and resolves your family law matters in a compassionate way is paramount. Get personalized service and contact Melone Hatley, P.C., attorneys at law, at 800-479-8124 or use our online contact form for an initial consultation with a client services coordinator.
Family law encompasses everything from estates, wills, and trusts to domestic violence that can cause serious personal injury and require protective orders. It covers child custody and support, separation, divorce, and any legal issues that deal with your family. A few common cases include the following:
Child custody involves two aspects: legal and physical custody. Legal custody regards who gets to make important decisions about the child’s education, health, and welfare. Physical custody refers to the child’s primary residence. One parent can have primary custody in either or both of these areas, or they can share custody.
The necessary amount of child support per child in Virginia depends on the gross income of each parent, the child’s healthcare costs, and work-related expenses. It must be paid until the child reaches 18 years old or until they graduate high school, whichever happens later. The court may consider various factors to determine which parent must pay child support and how much.
To file for divorce in Virginia, at least one party must be a resident for at least six months. If the other spouse has no connection to Virginia, the courts may not have jurisdiction for support or property issues. If the couple has no children, they must be separated for at least six months, not enjoying any domestic relations during that time. They also must provide a written property settlement. If the couple has children, they must be separated for at least one year rather than six months.
Military divorces involve unique challenges from child custody to jurisdiction to issues related to deployment. Jurisdiction, for example, may be where the military member resides, where their spouse resides, where they are currently stationed, or where they last lived in the U.S. It can get very complicated. A family law attorney with years of experience in these specific cases is necessary to guide you through these challenges.
Children with special needs involve unique considerations in divorce proceedings. The courts must consider any medical or healthcare needs, respite care for custodial parents, social and recreational opportunities, estate planning, guardianship, and other unique factors in addition to standard visitation, custody, and support arrangements.
Prenuptial agreements are signed before the marriage, which determines the settling of obligations and rights should the marriage fail. In Virginia, a prenuptial agreement requires both spouses to be unmarried when signed. That is, one spouse cannot sign before the union and the other after. The signing must be before a notary public. Before signing one of these agreements, it is a good idea to speak to a family law attorney.
Formal separation agreements are not necessary in Virginia, but they can sometimes be helpful in the division of property upon divorce. In our state, however, all that matters is that you are sleeping separately from your spouse and intend for the separation to be permanent. No written formal agreement is required.
Spousal support, also sometimes called alimony, can vary widely from one case to another. It depends on the circumstances of each party, including earning capacity, employability, necessary training, age, physical and mental condition, property interests, contributions to the marriage, marital standard of living, and a wide range of other factors. This can be one of the most contentious aspects of any divorce proceeding, and it is crucial to have a divorce lawyer in your corner to protect your rights.
Estate planning and family law are similar in that both involve working with families. Family law, however, deals more often with divorce and custody issues, while estate planning deals with future health concerns and assets. The two can cross over occasionally; if you have an estate plan, it can become part of your divorce proceedings, for example. Your retirement benefits, property, will, power of attorney, and the like all become parts of marital property that can be negotiated or must be changed as the result of a divorce case.
A contested divorce could carry numerous benefits, especially if your ex-spouse concealed assets or you were the victim of domestic abuse. You would be surprised how often spouses hide things from each other during a marriage, and many of these things can be financial. Such assets can make a difference in the determination of spousal maintenance and issues of child support.
Speaking of child support, sometimes the children’s best interests are better handled through a contested divorce. In this case, the courts can rule on parental custody and support issues. In cases of abuse, either spousal or child abuse, a contested divorce allows you to seek protection from the abuser while you work to dissolve the marriage.
Finally, sometimes your spouse might just have unrealistic expectations for what they deserve. In this case, the courts can ensure that property division is equitable.
Uncontested divorces are a collaborative process. The biggest benefit to this type of divorce may be that you can salvage some of your prior relationships, which can be very important, especially if kids are in the picture. In addition, since these divorces go smoother and faster, they also cost less, and the stress level they place on everyone involved is lesser. They also keep your divorce far more private than a contested divorce, which becomes a matter of public record once the courts get involved.
Whether or not you should sign a prenup depends on you and your family’s situation. Some people might have vast assets they want to protect and want to keep their best interests in mind. Others might view a prenup as an assumption of failure for the marriage. You need to discuss the situation with your future spouse, do some soul searching, and determine what is best for you both. If you decide on a prenuptial agreement, your family law attorney can help you create one that is legally binding and fair.
Melone Hatley, P.C., is an experienced family law office serving Richmond, Virginia and the surrounding areas. We have plenty of customer testimonials that speak to our knowledge, skills, experience, and the value we place in our client relationships. We bring many decades of combined legal experience to the table and will always stand tall for our clients. We treat every client as a member of our own family and will go to any lengths to advocate for you and stand up for your rights. We will be an ally, a comforting ear when you need it, and we will fight doggedly to protect what is yours.
If you are facing family law issues of divorce, child custody, or any other family-related legal issue, call us. We represent clients in various cities across the state, including Chesterfield, Midlothian, Macturk, Glen Allen, Henrico County, Hanover, and Richmond.
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