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Fredericksburg Family Law Blog

Important family law points for mothers regarding paternity

For unmarried couples in Virginia who share a child, paternity is one of the issues that often comes up as a matter of family law. Mothers who are concerned about the establishment of paternity and whether or not it is important need to understand certain points regarding this. Knowing the facts about paternity, how it influences child support, and what to do in the event of a dispute are all imperative.

Regarding paternity, the father agreeing to sign a form known as the Acknowledgement of Paternity and negotiating an amount to be paid to support the child must have a notarized form filed with the Office of Vital Records. A father who is not willing to sign this form or to provide child support will require that the mother sign a petition to the court or let the Division of Child Support Enforcement know. There must be a form that names the person who the mother believes to be the biological father. The DCSE can contact the man and ask that paternity be admitted voluntarily or there be a test to determine whether or not he is the father. DCSE can also assist with gathering evidence for a hearing.

Military family law matters, paternity and UIFSA

Former and current military personnel and their former spouses or people with whom they were in a relationship in Virginia might have a vague understanding of Uniform Interstate Family Support Act. However, there are various subsets to the law that need to be understood based on the individual circumstances. The one-state lone arm action and the two-state action are two subsets that are important when there are family law matters surrounding the establishment of paternity.

Paternity can be established under UIFSA in two different ways. An alleged father who has had minimum contacts in a particular state even though he might not reside there will be subject to long arm jurisdiction. With this, the state court or agency will have the right to determine paternity. The mother will have the ability to take legal recourse in an attempt to establish paternity in the state she resides regardless of whether the alleged father lives in that state. An example could be if the alleged father lived in the state and provided payments for certain services the mother used or if the couple had intercourse in the state that might have led to the child's conception. For the court to hear the case, it must be found that the alleged father had personal contacts in the state and received notice that the legal action was being pursued.

Legal help is key with visitation concerns in Virginia

Parents who are ending their marriage in Virginia might be relieved that they are finally parting ways and ending an unhappy marriage. However, they may also have concerns about what will happen to their children during and after the divorce. This will include determining who has primary child custody and who has visitation rights. Whether the case is settled and a parent is seeking modifications to the agreement, or the case is still in motion and they are hoping to get the outcome they desire, legal assistance is one of the most important factors in any child custody and visitation case.

With visitation, parenting time and custody, it can be a contentious circumstance, with many accusations and bickering back and forth. Of paramount importance is to make sure that the children are cared for, but that can get caught up in the disagreements as the parents are doing battle. Often, the preferable option is to have shared custody. In such a circumstance, the parents will both take part in the child's life. That will include education, medical care and participation in extracurricular activities.

Family law issues and possible benefits of mediation in Virginia

Considering the frequency with which family legal issues in Virginia spiral out of control, it is advisable to know the different ways they can be settled. While going to court to settle the dispute is one option, there are others that might be less time-consuming, contentious and costly. For example, mediation might be a viable choice to those whose circumstances fit the necessary criteria. With that in mind, it is important to know what mediation is, what its advantages are and what cases are not appropriate for it.

Mediation is a negotiation that is simplified with help from a neutral observer. It provides the parties with an opportunity to discuss what they deem to be important. It is a method to maintain control that would otherwise not be available in a courtroom. Mediation is voluntary and confidential. It can lead to a binding agreement that all parties are satisfied with.

Family law concerns, unmarried couples and paternity in Virginia

For unmarried couples in Virginia, having a child can lead to various family law issues and complications. This is true if the apparent father is denying paternity, if there is a disagreement regarding custody or if there is a problem with child support. Knowing certain facts about how paternity can be established, acknowledged and what the parents' rights and responsibilities are once paternity is established are all key factors in any case.

When parents are not married, the Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity (AOP) can be signed before leaving the hospital. It is free and allows the unmarried parents to establish who the father is by having it noted on the baby's birth certificate. If minors are the parents, it is not necessary to have parental approval to establish paternity. It is not necessary to be a citizen of the United States to sign the form. Benefits from the state of federal government will not be affected by signing. For the AOP to be officially notarized, proof of identification is required. Without the AOP, the father's name will not be placed on the birth certificate.

How does separation factor into the granting of a divorce?

In Virginia, there are several factors that are considered grounds for divorce. One in particular is if the couple has lived apart for a specific amount of time. Couples who have chosen to separate but not divorce may be able to move forward with the end of a marriage provided certain criteria are met. Understanding how the law views the separation of a married couple and at what point a divorce will be granted is imperative to avoiding any divorce legal issues that might delay or deny the application for a divorce.

When a husband and wife have lived separately and not lived together at all for one year, it is sufficient grounds for divorce. When a couple has a separation agreement and they do not have minor children born of both, born of either or adopted by one or both, then the divorce can be granted if they have lived separately and apart without cohabitating and have done so with no interruption for six months. A decision made to divorce based on another portion of the law, such as adultery or cruelty, will not prevent either party from being granted a divorce due to a separation.

How are military benefits divided in a divorce?

A large number of veterans and active duty military personnel reside in Virginia. When a military couple decides to end a marriage, one of the most contentious divorce issues that will arise has to do with military benefits. Understanding how military regulations handle this situation is imperative before moving forward with the legal case, as it can lead to confusion and a variety of problems after the fact. It can be difficult to fully grasp how the law works in these matters and it is wise to have legal advice.

The Uniformed Services Former Spouse Protection Act gives the court leeway to view disposable retirement pay as belonging to the military person or as part of the property to be divided in the divorce. Many might be under the impression that there is a certain formula that is used to decide how much is given to a former military spouse and how much the veteran will keep, but that is not the case. Every state in the U.S. views a military pension as marital property. Some might be under the impression that the pension can be divided only if the marriage was for a duration of a minimum of 10 years. State courts have the right to order retirement pay to be shared regardless of marriage length.

Understanding the criteria for child support modifications

Parents in Virginia who receive or pay child support may want to modify the order if the need arises. In Virginia, child support modifications can be a part of the review and adjustment option available to parents. By review and adjustment, it is meant that the order can be examined to determine whether or not a change is applicable. There are time constraints, guidelines for the adjustment in the amount and other factors that must be understood.

In general, the review to decide on modifications can only happen once every three years from the date the order was entered. The Department of Child Support Enforcement (DCSE) will automatically conduct a review if the case is one involving Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). Both parents have the right to ask for a review for several reasons. For example, there may be a review if the gross income of either parent has altered by a minimum of 25 percent, if the custodial parent is experiencing a change in child care costs related to work by a minimum of 25 percent or if there is no medical support as part of the order as it stands. A review may also occur if the support order does not have a clause for medical or dental expenses that have not been reimbursed, if the parent who is responsible for the health coverage sees the cost change by a minimum of 25 percent or if a child has to be added or removed from the current order.

Important financial points in a Virginia divorce

There are times when a couple in Virginia has done everything they can do to try and save a failing marriage, but in the end the ultimate decision is made to conclude it and move forward with a divorce. While this might seem to be a relief for many, there are numerous issues that can arise as part of the end of a marriage. Various divorce legal issues will come to the forefront such as spousal support. It does not necessarily have to be a high asset divorce for finances to come into question. Therefore, there are certain factors that must be considered when divorcing.

A divorce will often cost a significant amount of money if it drags out and there is the need to hire experts. When the process is ongoing, being difficult about certain things that would be preferably be negotiated amicably is often a way to increase the amount of money that it costs. Another issue that is often in dispute is spousal support. Having to pay to support another adult can be vexing, but it is also tax deductible and it is a way to smooth the process and get the divorce over with.

Financial and property division with an older divorce

When a Virginia couple decides to move forward with the end of a marriage, the financial aspects may be as concerning as the emotional upheaval comes to the forefront. It can be difficult to divorce at any age, but if it is an older couple, the various issues will stack on top of one another and have the propensity to leave the participants overwhelmed. However, keeping an eye on financial factors and property division can save a significant amount of pain later on.

More and more older people are ending their marriages. The rate of divorce for people 50 and older doubled in the two decades between 1990 and 2010. Approximately 25 percent of divorces are occurring in this age group. The numbers have remained the same since this study's range of years concluded. People who are older and divorce must take retirement plans in finances into account. A divorce between older people is not dissimilar to a divorce of someone younger, but the limited amount of time older people have to work, and the difficulty in navigating assets and adult offspring can make this harder.

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