Every divorce is different, and some are far more difficult than others, but it is rare that one goes as planned and without pain or legal issues.
Even if your divorce does not involve tons of assets or child custody issues, you can still have emotional disagreements about the division of property. Hiring a family law firm with experienced divorce lawyers may be the most important step you take. Melone Hatley, P.C., attorneys at law, are knowledgeable and compassionate divorce attorneys serving Chesterfield County, Virginia. Contact us online, visit our office, or call 800.479.8124 we are eager to help you work through this difficult time.
To request an appointment about any legal issues associated with your divorce, schedule a call with one of our client services coordinators.
This guide will teach you how to identify and avoid the ten most common mistakes people make in a divorce.
In an uncontested divorce, the couple must be physically separated (not living together) for 6 months before filing the divorce case, if there are no children involved. If you have minor children, an uncontested divorce can be filed if you are separated for at least one year. You do not need any legal separation documents to be separated. The only requirement to prove legal separation is to show that you were no longer holding yourself out as married.
Not all divorces will be uncontested. Some issues that may trigger a contested divorce include adultery, domestic violence and physical cruelty, desertion or abandonment, and a felony conviction resulting in incarceration of a period of at least one year. A divorce can also become contested if the parties dispute issues regarding the financial division of assets or debt, visitation and child custody rights, and issues of child support, spousal support, and/or alimony.
To initiate a contested case, a complaint is filed for divorce, and the other side is served with notice. Once the process has started, there may be hearings, discovery, negotiations, and even a final divorce trial.
There is no clear-cut answer to the cost of a divorce in Virginia. This is because every client and every case is completely unique. You may have decisions to make regarding business assets, estate planning, children, support, housing, cars, and a wide range of material assets. Factoring these in can make divorce quick or can make it drag out for a long time.
For the most part, experienced divorce attorneys charge between $350 to $450 per hour, and rates are normally commensurate with the attorney’s experience and track record. The best advice is that you do not want to find the cheapest attorney possible who is going to help you through one of the toughest times in your life.
Uncontested divorce cases are situations where the divorcing couple can agree on every aspect of the divorce. They agree on all issues of custody and visitation, all issues regarding the division of assets, the division of retirement accounts, and the division of pensions, and other property division. Although many people believe that their divorce will be uncontested, it is rare that divorcing couples agree on everything.
Contested divorces occur when there is a reason for the divorce; abuse, abandonment, or adultery, or when the parties are unable to completely agree on all issues involved in the divorce. These divorce cases involve disputes on one or both sides, requiring mediation and court intervention to resolve the divorce.
Alimony, also called spousal support, is awarded based on the relative incomes of the parties. Generally, if one spouse makes significantly more money than the other spouse, spousal support will be justified. Similarly, if one spouse was the sole earner and the other was the stay at home mother or stay at home father, alimony can be awarded to the spouse who was not working.
The amount of alimony or spousal support you will receive depends largely on the disparity of income. Alimony is designed to allow the lower earning spouse to continue to lead a meaningful life while they seek employment or training and skills necessary to enter the workforce. Alimony provisions can be modifiable which means they can be revisited in the future if the spouse receiving the support begins earning significant money from employment. Your Chesterfield County, VA divorce attorney can help you understand how this works and whether it applies to you.
Child custody and child support are among the most difficult parts of any divorce. For child custody, there are two types of custody: physical custody and legal custody. Physical custody means the parent lives with the child and is responsible for their daily care. This can be sole, where the child lives full-time with one parent, or joint, where the child splits time between homes.
Legal custody, on the other hand, refers to the parent who can make decisions regarding the child’s health, well-being, religion, schooling, and other such issues. Like physical custody, this can be sole or joint. Physical custody may or may not be considered where issues of legal custody come into play.
Courts consider the age, mental condition, and developmental needs of the child as well as the age, mental conditions, parental relationships, and support capabilities of each parent. Any history of family or sexual abuse will also be considered. If the child is at least age 14, the courts may want to hear what they want and take that into consideration.
In some case the court may appoint a guardian ad-litem, a court-appointed attorney who will be able to represent the best interests of the child to the court. This guardian can provide independent recommendations to the courts about the best interests of the child, and they may participate in mediation or court hearings regarding such issues.
You can file a no-fault or uncontested divorce without an attorney. Couples that do this, however, often regret the decision as only an experienced family law office can protect your rights. In truth, uncontested divorces are rare.
When you are dealing with a contested divorce, especially one with significant assets requiring knowledge of business law, real estate, or estate planning, or one that involves children, you need family law attorneys with several years of experience. You need an attorney who is knowledgeable on divorce law and divorce cases but who has experience in other practice areas. This will allow you to get the best advice about your whole case.
Divorce attorneys can provide a calm and neutral perspective on issues while helping to act as the legal representation you need to protect your interests. They can provide guidance through mediation and help you with a collaborative divorce. They can also help to cut through issues like accusations of abuse or domestic violence, lying and vindictive spouses, and complicated financial issues so that you can remain focused on moving on with your life.
Ultimately, a divorce lawyer offers a special set of skills and knowledge in specific legal matters. They are not criminal defense or criminal law attorneys, and they do not provide personal injury services or deal with DUI cases. They offer legal services solely focused on issues of legal separation and divorce, including equitable distribution of property.
If you are facing separation and divorce, schedule a call with one of our client services coordinators.
How long your divorce will take also depends largely on the nature of the separation. If it is a truly uncontested divorce, it can go very quickly, just requiring some paperwork filing and court approval. Contested divorces, on the other hand, can extend for months or longer depending on how difficult the division of assets and responsibilities becomes.
The best way to ensure that your divorce is as fair as possible is with help from a qualified divorce attorney. Contact Melone Hatley, P.C. online or by calling (804) 893-5067 to make sure you get what you deserve out of your divorce.
Melone Hatley, P.C. are the divorce attorneys in Chesterfield County who know how to settle divorce cases in a compassionate but aggressive way. We have represented clients across Virginia from the Richmond area, Midlothian, Henrico, Hanover, Colonial Heights, and the surrounding areas with legal issues of family law matters and civil litigation. We have been consistently listed among Virginia Super Lawyers for our excellence in services to our clients.
We will treat you like family with compassion and the voice of reason you need, offering legal advice and representation. Download our free eBook for valuable FAQs, then contact us online, visit our office, or call (804) 893-50674 today to discuss legal representation in your divorce case or legal separation agreement.
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