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Leesburg VA Divorce Law Blog

Is there 'child' custody for pets in Virginia?

Americans love their pets. Millions of dogs, cats and other animals live with their human companions, and most are loved as part of the family.

However, the law does not see it that way when it comes to divorce. Virginia family law courts consider pets to be personal property, the same as your furniture and clothing. In other words, there is no such thing as child custody-like “pet custody.”

What is annulment in Virginia?

We are sure our readers have heard of annulling a marriage, but some of you may be unsure what the difference is between an annulment and a divorce under Virginia law, and how one might qualify for an annulment. Today, we will present a brief overview of marriage annulment.

The basic difference between divorce and annulment is, a divorce dissolves an existing marriage, and distributes marital property in an equitable manner. An annulment treats the marriage as if it never existed.

How to talk to you kids about your divorce

Children naturally will have a lot of questions when their parents tell them they are getting a divorce. Finding out that one of their parents will not be around as much anymore can be very confusing and scary, and they may seek reassurance that they are still loved and protected, despite the divorce.

A mother recently shared a list of questions her son asked her about her divorce, and the responses she gave. Perhaps not all parents reading this will agree with her approach, but this list provides a starting point for parents uncertain how to talk about their divorce with their kids.

Child custody law puts the child's best interests first

Going through a child custody dispute can be emotionally difficult and frustrating. This is not some impersonal business deal; this is about whether your children will live with you most of the time, or whether you will get to spend time with them regularly and have a say in their upbringing. Perhaps nothing is more important in the lives of most Virginia parents.

State law puts the best interests of the child first when determining custody. This means that whatever arrangement the parents come up with in negotiations or mediation, or whatever the judge decides, must put the child’s needs over the parents’ desires. For example, would the child benefit best from a stable housing situation, or would it be better to split her time between each parent’s house?

What can parents pay for with child support funds?

Some noncustodial parents accuse the parent with custody of the kids with misusing child support funds. For their part, custodial parents often claim that the money the noncustodial parent pays in not enough to meet the children’s needs.

These complaints are legitimate in many cases, but other times they are because one of the parents does not understand the purpose and use of child support. It is not supposed to be spent on just anything, but neither is it the case that parents are allowed to spend it on food, clothing, shelter and nothing else.

Fight continues over $972M divorce decree

A billion-dollar divorce order is being contested by both spouses. The oil tycoon who was ordered to pay his former wife $972 million of the marital assets says it is too much, and the ex-wife says it is too little.

Attorneys for Harold Hamm, who was estimated to be worth $16.1 billion at the time of the Nov. 10 ruling, say the fact that oil prices have fallen dramatically since then makes the $972 million figure, which appears to be technically alimony, a larger percentage of the couple’s fortune than the judge intended to award to Hamm’s ex-wife. Bloomberg Businessweek reports that the value of Hamm’s oil fracking company, Continental, has dropped 36 percent since the divorce trial ended, and Hamm’s net worth is currently $9.6 billion.

How much are your assets are worth in a Virginia divorce?

When it comes to divorce, figuring out assets and debts are part of the couple’s marital property is only one step. Once the parties and the court know what is in the marital pool, it is necessary to figure out for sure what those items are worth.

Valuation of assets is easy enough when it comes to a joint checking account that the couple opened after they got married. But if the couple own substantial assets like a small business, real estate or motor vehicles, determining the value of those things can be more complex.

5 tips for helping your kids celebrate the holidays after divorce

The holiday season is expected to be a time of reunion: we reconnect with relatives and friends who live far away, making this time of year special for many.

But for children whose parents divorced in the last year or so, the holidays can only heighten the feelings of confusion and guilt they have been dealing with. A now-smaller family gathering may be a reminder that the parents are no longer together.

Figuring out child custody is one of the top divorce priorities

Child custody is a major issue in nearly every case when married parents get divorced. Naturally, most parents want what is best for their children, but they may not agree on what “best for the children” looks like.

So they may disagree on whether to share custody, or if one parent should have sole custody and the other reserves visitation time. Even if they do decide the latter arrangement is best, they could each want to be the parent with custody.

Possibly 1st same-sex divorce case filed in Virginia

The Oct. 6 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court not to hear various challenges to court rulings that recognized the right of same-sex couples to marry had major repercussions for the laws of several states, including Virginia. Locally, the Court’s decision essentially upholds a federal judge’s ruling from January that Virginia’s statute and constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage were unconstitutional.

That means that couples who are of the same gender can get married in Virginia, at least for now. By implication, it also arguably means that those same couples can get divorced later on, and that same-sex couples who got married in a state where such marriages were recognized can also divorce in Virginia.