FAMILY LAW LAWYER • VIRGINIA BEACH, VA
Family law and divorce impacts your most personal relationships, your personal finances, and your future. Experienced legal representation is vital to your successful future. You have rights and you have options. Call Deering Hedrick today to discuss how we can guide you through this tumultuous time in your life. We represent clients in all aspects of family law.
Because family law is such a broad legal area, you need a lawyer that has extensive knowledge of the relevant Virginia statutes. In addition, it is important to retain a family law attorney with well-developed negotiation skills. Many issues in family law can be resolved by agreement, so finesse in these discussions is essential. Versatility and comfort in the courtroom is also critical for a family attorney. It may not be possible to reach a compromise on certain issues and it is important to have an attorney who possesses trial skills and a willingness to try a case in Court. Our attorneys, Mike Deering and Chris Todd Hedrick, have represented clients with Virginia family law issues, amassing considerable experience in a wide range of cases. We will be at your side in negotiating an agreement for divorce, child custody, visitation, and related issues when feasible. We are also prepared to try your matter in Court when necessary to protect your rights.
MARRIAGE & DIVORCE
Prenuptial Agreements: Though it may not seem romantic to plan for divorce when you are walking down the aisle, it is wise to plan for all potential contingencies. Most couples can benefit from executing a prenuptial agreement, regardless of their individual or joint wealth. If you are remarrying, own an interest in a closely held business, or have children separately, a prenuptial agreement may be used to resolve these issues in the event that you divorce.
There are certain requirements for a prenuptial agreement to be valid. In Virginia:
- A prenuptial agreement must be in writing, since an oral compromise is not enforceable;
- The agreement must be drafted and executed in contemplation of marriage, which essentially means that each party entered into it for the specific intention of marriage; and,
- The prenuptial agreement cannot be unconscionable, which depends on the circumstances. For example, the arrangement may be grossly unfair if one of the parties did not fully disclose all assets, income, and debts. If one person makes threats, coerces the other, or engages in other misconduct in connection with the prenuptial agreement, a court may refuse to enforce it.
Same-Sex Marriage: Virginia has recognized same-sex marriages since October 6, 2014, when the US Supreme Court ruled that the state’s statutory and constitutional ban was unconstitutional. Same-sex couples share the rights of male-female marriages, and divorce laws apply equally.
Divorce: Virginia law covers all aspects of divorce, but there are two components that all couples must address:
- Equitable Distribution (property division): All marital property is subject to equitable distribution by the Court. All property acquired during the marriage will be divided during divorce proceedings. Inheritances, gifts, and any property brought individually into the marriage are separate property and not subject to division. This area of the law can be complicated and takes a skilled attorney like Mike Deering or Chris Todd Hedrick to protect your interests.
- Spousal Support: One spouse may be entitled to receive alimony or support from the other during the divorce process and after the case concludes. Typically, spousal support is appropriate where one spouse earns significantly less or previously gave up employment opportunities to support the other during marriage. The amount of alimony is intended to allow the recipient to reside in the same relative lifestyle that he or she enjoyed during the marriage. The amount and duration of spousal support is contingent on specific factors that can be effectively argued Deering Hedrick to further your case.
THE LAWS OF THE PARENT-CHILD RELATIONSHIP
Every parent has specific rights and responsibilities related to their children. This area of the law is emotional, turbulent, and often complicated by external factors. Three key factors must be addressed:
1. Child Custody: Because Virginia finds that the child benefits from having a relationship with both parents, joint custody is a preferred arrangement. Parents often share legal custody being jointly responsible for care, decision-making, and authority. Physical custody determines where the children will primarily reside whether with one parent or in some other arrangement where parents may alternate weeks, weekends, and holidays.
2. Visitation: Visitation or parenting time is a crucial aspect of family law. Even if you do not have custody of your children, you may have rights to significant parenting time with your children. This is true of parents, grandparents, and other family members or individuals who may have a legitimate interest in the children’s lives and well-being.
In all cases, the child’s best interests are the paramount consideration. There is no gender consideration which allows both parents to have equal rights to custody and visitation. This does not mean that the Court will always order equal time with the children. Factors in determining the child’s best interests include:
- The age, mental, and physical condition of the child and both parents;
- The relationship between the child and each parent;
- Each parent’s ability to meet the child’s emotional, developmental, physical, and other needs;
- The abilities of parents to cooperate with each other in raising the child;
- The child’s wishes, where appropriate; and,
- Other factors designated by law.
These factors can make the difference between significant time with your children versus the life of a non-existent parent. Contact Deering Hedrick to discuss how he can fashion these factors into the best arguments and potential for your relationship with your children both now and in the future.
3. Child Support: Parents have a duty to support their children. The amount of child support is based upon guidelines but can deviate based on a parent’s reasonable ability to pay and other specific factors. These factors include both the custodial and noncustodial parent’s gross income, child care costs, medical insurance, and other considerations.
OTHER FAMILY LAW ISSUES
In addition to divorce and custody, we handle additional family law matters:
Domestic Violence: Virginia laws are harsh on those who engage in domestic violence, and the statutes offer significant protections to victims. There must be the presence of a personal relationship, such as current or former spouses, housemates, dating, or other relationship to trigger domestic violence laws. A person can seek a protective order directing another individual to avoid contact, communication, or other acts. The process can be very complicated, and errors could put you and your family at risk. It is essential to work with a knowledgeable domestic violence attorney, like Mike Deering or Chris Todd Hedrick, to handle the proceedings.
Remember, you do have rights. An accuser may obtain a protective order due to false information or exaggerated claims. This is especially true in a heated divorce or contested child custody battle. A domestic violence lawyer can protect your interests and defend your rights. Call Deering Hedrick today.
Adoption: Whether you are adopting an infant or older child, from within the US or internationally, you can benefit from retaining a Virginia adoption attorney. Even when you are adopting a family member or child of your spouse, legal representation is important to ensure a smooth process and protection for our child.