Kelly Byrnes & Danker, PLLC

Virginia Family Law Blog

Financial planning with a postnuptial agreement

In the past, many Virginia couples felt that prenuptial agreements were only necessary for those with substantial amounts of family wealth or high-profile celebrities. However, more and more engaged partners have been won over to the option of deciding in advance how their assets may be divided in a divorce or separation. In fact, many who have already married without a prenup are looking for alternatives. A postnuptial agreement can be particularly important for people with privately-held businesses or family inheritances.

Some people may shy away from a postnup, because it seems like an indication of problems in the marriage or a prediction of divorce. Nevertheless, there can be excellent practical reasons to pursue this kind of contract even in a happy relationship. For example, one partner might be anticipating a significant inheritance from their family. While the family might want to keep those assets in the family and protect them from divorce, the spouse might want to share them with their partner. A postnuptial agreement could specifically exclude the inherited property from any future divorce settlement, providing reassurance to the family.

How you talk to your co-parent has an impact on your children

The choices you make during your divorce will have a direct impact on your future and the lives of your kids. Even after the process is final, the things you do and say can have an effect on your children, especially when it comes to a tricky co-parenting situation. It may not be easy to work closely with a former spouse, but it is worthwhile to make this as peaceful as possible for your kids' sake.

Many Virginia parents choose to co-parent because it provides an opportunity to maintain a strong relationship with both of them. This can be difficult to navigate, especially when there are lingering hard feelings and complex issues to work through. However, parents would do well to focus on maintaining good communication, which directly impacts how well they co-parent.

Divorce season comes on the heels of new year festivities

People most involved in the industry have long noticed a seasonal spike in divorce filings following the holidays. How universal is this trend though, or is it more of an overblown myth? One author compiled the evidence and experts to answer that question. Fairfax residents with young children probably already understand why January is sometimes referred to by professionals as "Divorce Month."

One expert in the field was quoted as claiming it absolutely true that January witnesses an annual increase in divorces. A study from the University of Washington considered the question using 15 years worth of filings. Among other findings, the authors of that study noted that filings in January always outnumbered those in December. Evidence from Google Trends answered a slightly different question showing a January 6-12 peak in search terms containing divorce.

Why engaged couples should discuss prenuptial agreements

Whether it is a carefully planned event that is shared with thousands of people or a private proposal, everyone's hearts are touched by the magic of the moment. While there is so much excitement that surrounds an engagement, there is also a deeply pragmatic side to it. Newly engaged couples in Virginia should know about the benefits that come from prenuptial agreements.

Discussing finances early in an engagement can set expectations for what each individual is hoping to get out of their financial partnership when they are married. If each individual knows how the other views money and has talked about the way they want to use it, they can avoid a lot frustration later on. Prenuptial agreements can help the couple to avoid many arguments if they decide to end their marriage at a later time. They can also avoid the expense of having a court decide how their assets will be distributed.

Two challenges women face after a divorce

It is common for both men and women in Virginia to experience challenges after a divorce. However, in a country where women are often awarded custody of children and where women's income is 81% of men's, the challenges may be different. Here are two of the biggest challenges women face after a divorce.

Money problems have ranked number one when it comes to the top concerns of women after a divorce. This makes sense because women may experience a decline in their income when their marriage ends. Women are also more likely to experience poverty after a divorce.

Deciding when to engage with a toxic ex-spouse

A Virginia parent who shares custody of their kids with a toxic ex-spouse may have to deal with a lot of manipulation, name-calling and power plays. While it may be a struggle to co-parent successfully with a high-conflict individual, it can be done. Maintaining personal integrity and looking out for the children's best interests should be the top goals.

It's important to think about how and when communication will take place with a toxic ex-spouse. After going through a divorce, one does not have to feel like they're constantly "on call." They will need to respond to emergencies involving the children, but they have the right to decide when and how they will engage with the ex-spouse. Many have found that business-like communication using email is the best option for keeping their sanity and focusing on parenting.

Divorce can make your holidays in Virginia a bit stressful

When you filed a divorce petition in a Virginia court, you no doubt wanted to focus on your children's best interests. Leaving the past behind from a marriage and moving on in life in a productive, healthy way is a lot easier said than done in many cases, especially when you have kids. With Thanksgiving just a few weeks away and the 2019 holiday season about to unfold, you'll want to make sure that you and your children are able to enjoy it without legal problems.

Especially if you and your ex are not really on good terms, which is common in divorce, you'll want to make sure you have a solid, thorough co-parenting plan in place. It's a good idea to incorporate details about holidays into your agreement because it helps avoid confusion and lessens the chance that a dispute might arise.

Dividing the family home in a divorce

Usually, the family home is a marriage's most valuable asset, and divorcing couples in Virginia often find it hard to decide whether to sell or keep it. Spouses who are looking for a clean break and a fresh start might find this decision easy, but couples with fond memories of raising children and living as a family could find the family home very difficult to let go of.

Selling the family home and dividing the proceeds is the simplest solution, but couples who choose this option should bear in mind that capital gains tax will have to be paid on any profit realized. If one person wants to stay in the home, he or she can offer other assets in property negotiations in exchange for that individual's husband or wife's share of the home or take out a loan to buy him or her out. However, qualifying for a mortgage with just one income instead of two could be difficult.

Strategic divorce may have unintended consequences

Once couples reach a certain income bracket, their taxes may increase because they are married. Sometimes called the "marriage tax," this applies to couples who in 2019 made at least $612,350. While some Virginia couples may be tempted to file for what is sometimes referred to as a "strategic divorce" in order to avoid these taxes, there are a number of additional costs to consider.

For example, a divorce may affect retirement benefits. The couple may need to have a complex document known as a qualified domestic relations order prepared in order to split a pension. After a divorce, removing the other person as the beneficiary on the account becomes much easier. Another consequence is the potential loss of health insurance benefits, which are often provided by one spouse's employer. A divorce could also mean splitting business assets and giving an ex-spouse voting rights.

Determining the value of a home during a divorce

When couples in Virginia and other states go through a divorce, it is common for one spouse to buy out the other's share of equity and keep the family home. This is especially true if children are involved. Here are a few basic steps for calculating a house buyout when going through the divorce process.

The first step is determining the value of the home. If there is a mortgage on the home, the equity on the home needs to be determined. For example, if a home is worth $600,000 and the mortgage is $300,000, each spouse will have $150,000 in equity in the home.

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Kelly Byrnes & Danker, PLLC

Kelly Byrnes & Danker, PLLC

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Fairfax, VA 22033

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