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Fredericksburg Family Law Blog

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.

Why is it important to establish paternity in Virginia?

These days in Virginia, it is not unusual for unmarried couples to have a child together. While the majority will agree to care for the child equally even if they are no longer together as a couple, there are times when there might be some confusion as to the child's paternity. This can lead to a dispute and is a situation in which family law will come to the forefront in determining such issues as visitation, custody and who will pay for the child's care. Knowing the details of how paternity is established can avoid a whole host of difficult family legal issues.

Parents who are not legally married when the baby is born will not have the father's name on the birth certificate until paternity has been established. This is just one of the reasons why it is important to establish paternity, but there are others. When the parents are not legally married, the father will not have any rights regarding the child until such time as paternity has been established. With that in mind, the father will have no say regarding the care of the child, cannot see the child without the mother's permission or have custody and visitation rights.

Family law, guardianship and adoption in Virginia

When it comes to family law in Virginia, certain issues go beyond simple divorce-related concerns. With children, this can be complicated with a variety of factors that will come to the forefront, such as kinship care. Included are adoption and guardianship when a child is no longer able to reside with his or her parents. Having a grasp on these family law issues beforehand can help with settling them efficiently without rancor and contentious disagreements. If there are disputes, it is even more important to know how the state deals with these circumstances.

With adoption by a relative, it will be permanent. Within the adoptive family, the child will be viewed the same way as a biological child would. The child who is adopted might be entitled to receive various benefits including pensions, Social Security and financial assistance. Adoption can only be done after the biological parent has had his or her rights terminated. It can be voluntary or involuntary. When it is involuntary, the social services department of the state will seek to have those parental rights terminated for the child's safety and well-being.

Might child support continue after the child turns 18?

Parents who are paying or receiving child support in Virginia might not be fully knowledgeable about the legal issues surrounding child support. Some issues that frequently arise include child support modifications and permanent child support, among others. Some are under the impression that the child support will automatically end when the child turns 18. In certain instances, that is so. However, there are also circumstances in which the supporting parent will have to continue making the payments after the child turns 18-years-old. It is imperative for the supporting parent, the receiving parent and the child to understand those circumstances and act accordingly.

For a child who is over the age of 18, the payments might be ordered to continue. This will occur under certain circumstances. If the child is still a full-time student in high school, is not self-supporting and is living in the home of the person who is requesting or receiving child support until the child turns 19 or completes high school, whichever happens first.

What if no child custody order is in place when one is deployed?

Virginia military members who have children and are no longer in a relationship with their ex will undoubtedly have a litany of concerns regarding child custody at the time of their deployment. Often, there will be an order in place for just such an instance. However, that is not always the case. It is with that in mind that the state has laws in place in the event that there is no order. Understanding these laws is an imperative factor for an active duty parent who is set for deployment and does not know what will happen regarding their child.

When there is not a court order regarding the custody, visitation and support of a child, a petition will be filed that will address any or all of these issues with regards to the deploying parent, to make certain that there will be access, support and other orders in place so the parent-child relationship is protected. In addition, this petition will be expedited if the circumstances are applicable. If the deploying parent is not able to appear because of the deployment, the court will be able to have the hearing by telephone or other electronic means. There must be a motion on the part of the parent or guardian for this to occur along with good cause shown. Witnesses can appear via this method as well.

Important financial considerations in a divorce

Divorce is a frequent occurrence in Virginia and across the United States. The end of a marriage is sometimes unavoidable and can actually benefit those who decide to move forward with it, as they can get on with their lives. However, there are ingrained concerns that a large number of people who are divorcing have to keep in mind. Many of these have to do with finances. Combined with the emotional aspects of the marriage ending, financial aspects may go ignored at the peril of the participants.

Retirement accounts are a key asset in many divorces. Understanding a Qualified Domestic Relations Order is important, as it will divide certain retirement plans like a 401(k) and a pension. It can be complicated to have a QDRO approved. With the QDRO, the administrator of the plan needs to be informed of the divorce proceeding early to make certain that the rules of the plan are followed.

A lawyer can help with division of assets in Virginia

When a Virginia couple decides to divorce, there are a seeming endless number of divorce legal issues that will arise. While children will come first and the spouses might be thinking about support, living arrangements and visitation, the assets that the couple shared are also a major factor as the case moves forward. In many instances, there will be a dispute as to who gets to keep which assets. Having legal assistance can make certain that the assets are divided fairly.

The number of different financial assets that can come to the forefront at the end of a marriage is substantial. This can be significant if one of the spouses was the breadwinner while the other stayed at home. It can also be an issue if both members of the marriage were working and there is a disagreement as to whose assets belong to which spouse when they are sifted through. For example, there might be an individual retirement account or some other form of retirement account that each side argues should be theirs. One or both spouses might have been members of the military with the accompanying benefits. There could be savings accounts or a family business. It's possible that they had joint investments.

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