Kelly Byrnes & Danker, PLLC

Virginia Family Law Blog

Is your ex in contempt of your divorce order?

When you go through a divorce, you can expect big changes in your life. Maybe this is your goal, or maybe divorce was never what you wanted. Unfortunately, there is often little you can do to stop the process if your spouse is determined to end the marriage.

At the end of the process, you will have a settlement or court order that describes what is expected of you in the years that follow. Whether the terms of your divorce seem agreeable or distasteful to you, both you and your ex are bound by law to abide by them. What can you do if your ex refuses to comply with the terms of your divorce?

Modifying child support orders in Virginia

Family law judges in Virginia follow a set of strict guidelines when determining how much child support a noncustodial parent should pay, but their decisions may be revisited and child support orders modified when the situation of one or both of the parents changes significantly. Child support modifications are often ordered when health care premiums or the incomes of either the custodial or noncustodial parent increase or decrease by 25% or more.

Many parents are not aware that they can petition the court to modify child support orders, which is why many noncustodial parents struggle to meet their financial responsibilities after suffering a financial setback. According to figures from the U.S. Census Bureau, almost half of the 5,845,000 American parents who are entitled to child support do not receive the full amount each month. While deadbeat dads do exist, many of these noncustodial parents simply do not have enough money to pay on time.

The reasons why marriages don't last

Ending a marriage is a decision that should not be taken lightly. This is because Virginia spouses can expect to be emotionally and financially drained by the end of the divorce process. Research has found that women initiate 69% of all divorces, and the rate is even higher among women who have a college degree. There are several reasons why women are more likely then men to ask for a divorce.

In some cases, a lack of communication dooms a marriage to failure. Over time, a wife may feel as if she cannot be honest with her partner without being rejected or ridiculed. Eventually, the lack of communication makes it impossible for either side to get what they need from the relationship. For some married couples, a lack of communication can result in household financial problems. These money problems can cause tension that makes it difficult for a marriage to continue.

Protecting health during a "gray divorce"

An increasing number of people in Virginia and across the country are choosing to divorce at a later stage in life. While divorce trends have remained steady or even decreased for younger Americans, the rates for people aged 50 and up have doubled in the past 30 years. Of course, younger people are still more likely to divorce, but the advent of increasing rates for older people leads to new considerations about health and finances. Divorcing later in life can have significant effects on people's well-being, especially as the end of a marriage is known to be a major life stressor.

There can be a number of physical and psychological health concerns associated with divorce, especially when older people with existing medical issues are involved. Later-in-life divorces are often associated with higher levels of depression or anxiety. These can be linked to physical changes as well. This is especially true because depression and stress are linked to heart disease, obesity, Type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure. Many people become less active and more sedentary after a divorce, and they may find it difficult to sleep. These can lead to an overall decline in health.

Social media caution may be advised during divorce

Social media is an important part of many people's lives, and this can be especially true during a divorce. Facebook, Twitter or Instagram can be major ways that people connect with their friends and family. Still, those who want to ease their path to a successful divorce settlement may want to be discreet about what they choose to share publicly on their social media profiles. Conflicts over social media use can lead to marital unhappiness, and some types of social media posts could even make it into a Virginia family court during the divorce.

According to one study, increased social media usage is highly correlated with decreased satisfaction in a marriage. Of course, this usually reflects underlying issues rather than being solely tied to the use of social apps. However, these battles can continue during the divorce. Many people want to prioritize a simple divorce settlement, especially if children are involved. This can mean taking care to clean up a social media profile. People who want to protect themselves can increase their privacy settings, stay away from posting about the divorce and unfriend their soon-to-be ex-spouses. In addition, they may want to unfriend other close family and friends of the spouse as well.

Why should I consider getting a prenuptial agreement?

If you are one of the many Virginia residents who is getting married this year or in the near future, you probably have a lot on your plate. While planning a wedding can be fun and exciting, it can also be stressful and time-consuming. During this crazy time in your life, protecting yourself in the event your marriage does not work out is probably not high on your priority list. However, taking the time to create a prenuptial agreement that does just that would be time well spent.

There is a misconception that these marital contracts are only for the wealthy. The simple truth is, any couple, regardless of economic status, can benefit from having them in their legal arsenal. You never know how your marriage will play out. It is okay to want to protect yourself, your assets and, if applicable, any children you have from previous relationships.

Making divorce less stressful for children

When parents in Virginia determine that they can no longer live together, it's often children who are affected most. Fortunately, there are some steps that parents who are still able to remain civil toward one another can take to protect their kids and make the transition to a two-household life less stressful.

While it's not always easy for parents to remain entirely civil after untying the knot, children of divorce don't need to hear tales of their other parent's misdeeds. Kids also tend to appreciate being clearly told the divorce wasn't their fault to help ease lingering feelings of guilt. Honestly is important although there is such a thing as sharing too many details, especially painful or uncomfortable ones. Furthermore, children of all ages often benefit from being able to show affection openly for both parents while also being able to talk about enjoyable experiences they have during visits.

Planning for divorce can provide benefits

Many Virginia residents know someone, either a relative or friend, who has been completely blind-sided by a divorce. He or she was living a regular, happy life when the other spouse came home one day and declared the marriage was over and there was no possible means of reconciliation. It may be hard to imagine there were no signs of problems, but sometimes one spouse has moved on while the other clings to the comfort and stability of the past. However, when a split seems all but inevitable, it can prove beneficial to begin preparation sooner rather than later.

The laws are clear that neither party in a divorce can hide assets or be anything less than completely honest in dealing with a pending divorce, but the reality is often different. Legal experts stress the importance of having full financial records as an imperative before initiating any divorce proceedings. This includes bank records, property deeds, retirement accounts, and perhaps most importantly, an accurate accounting of all debts and liabilities. By doing so, the individual is acquiring all the documentation needed but is also getting a good feel for the issues that will impact how the property division may play out.

An overview of legal custody

In Virginia and throughout the country, parents may be awarded either physical custody or legal custody to their children. In some cases, they will receive both types of custody. Legal custody gives a parent the right to make important decisions related to a son or daughter's health and general welfare. These decisions may involve the type of medical care a child receives or what religious practices he or she will be exposed to.

Parents may receive either sole or joint legal custody. Often, courts will award joint legal custody as it tends to be in the child's best interest. Sole legal custody may be granted in cases involving parents who are deemed to be unfit. A judge may declare a parent unfit because of a drug or alcohol problem or other issues that could call into question that individual's decision making ability.

Divorce and business owners

When couples in Virginia divorce, finances are often a top concern. This is particularly true if either spouse owns a business or the couple owns a business together. This is because businesses are often a significant asset and, in many cases, a primary source of income.

In cases where the couple owns the business together, some important decisions will have to be made. These include whether the business will be sold outright, whether the couple will continue operating as before or whether one spouse will buy out the other's share. If only one of the spouses owns a business, other questions arise, including determining that spouse's income for child support and spousal maintenance payments.

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Kelly Byrnes & Danker, PLLC

Kelly Byrnes & Danker, PLLC

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Fairfax, VA 22033

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