Archive for November, 2011

Can I record a phone call?

Sunday, November 20th, 2011

As with most things in law, the details of each individual situation can make a difference in how the judge might interpret the laws.

Virginia is one of the ‘one party consent’ states that allows recording of a phone conversation if at least one of the parties to the conversation knows about and consents to the recording.   So it would appear that you could record your own calls if the entire conversation takes place in Virginia.

The problem occurs if the other party to the conversation is in a state where the law requires all parties to consent before a call can be recorded.  For example, Maryland law requires that all parties consent before a call can be recorded.  To be totally safe from prosecution for unauthorized taping (which is a felony in Virginia), you should abide by the most strict law.  This means that if you are talking to someone in Maryland, you should get their permission before recording the call.

If someone is notified that the call is being recorded, and they continue to talk, they have given their consent, even if they don’t say the words ‘I consent’ or even ‘ok’.  If someone is notified that the call is being recorded and they don’t want to be recorded, they can always just hang up.

I have read about a situation where a woman starts each conversation with her ex-husband with the phrase ‘this conversation may be recorded for use in a court of law’.  While she may not have actual need to use the recordings, she reports that it has reduced the harassment that was previously part of every phone call about their joint children.

If you have any questions about this or any other legal subject, please feel free to give us a call at 757-234-4650 or visit our website at

Is an adopted child considered blood line in a will?

Sunday, November 13th, 2011

I found this question on the internet awhile ago, and thought that others might have the same question themselves.

In this case, there wasn’t a lot of information other than the fact that this man had adopted his wife’s child, but wanted to make sure that all of his inheritances in his Will would pass only to his bloodline.

Legally, as soon as you adopt a child, it is considered YOUR child for all intents and purposes.  By law, there is no distinction between a child by blood and a child by adoption.  Generally, when the adoption is finalized, the child loses the legal connection to the birth parents and gains the legal connection to the adoptive parents.

This is different than the status of a step-child.  A step-child is not considered your child for any legal action, even though you were the parent for the child’s entire life.

There are ways of drafting your Will, Trust or other estate planning documents to create your desired end result.

You can disinherit any of your children by putting the language into the document.  It doesn’t have to be an adopted child.  I have had clients who wanted to make sure that one of their children did not get anything when they died because of things that child did, or perhaps they have already given one child more than his or her share and now wanted to make sure that what was left would go to another child.

Some people also give different amounts to different children by naming them specifically along with a percentage of the estate value

In this man’s case, he could write his Will so that his adopted child did not inherit something that he felt strongly should be kept in the blood line.

I’ve also had clients who wanted to make sure that their step-children were treated the same as their biological children.    I had one client who wanted to make sure that their son’s step-daughter was treated as any of their other grandchildren.

This is relatively easy to accomplish with the right drafting, but you need to make sure it is done correctly or you will not get your desired result.  Even worse, you might end up with a document that causes your family to spend lots of dollars, even the entire value of your estate, in litigation to fight over what you really meant when you wrote that you wanted your things to go to ‘your bloodline’.   This is one good example of why it is important to go to an Estate Planning professional instead of trying a ‘do it yourself’ plan that you find in the store, on software, or on the internet.

If you have any questions about this or any other legal subject, please feel free to give us a call at 757-234-4650 or visit our website at

Could Kim Kardashian get divorced in Virginia?

Sunday, November 6th, 2011

The Kim Kardashian divorce news brings up a question that I hear often in Virginia.  You might be surprised at the number of calls I get from people who have been married less than a month and they now want to get a divorce.

It is easy to get married in Virginia.  Some states have a 3-day waiting period before you can get married.  Virginia has no waiting period at all, so if you are thinking about getting married and want to do it on a whim, Virginia might be the place to go for the wedding ceremony.

It is not so easy to get divorced in Virginia.

I think the shortest marriage that has shown up in my office wanting a divorce is from a couple who got into a fight at the reception and never spent even one night together as man and wife.

Unfortunately for most unhappily married couples, they must wait until they have been married for at least 6 months before they can file for divorce.  Of course, if there are provable grounds for divorce the divorce can be granted sooner, but for the ‘it was a mistake’ type of situation like that of Kim Kardashian, you need to be separated for at least 6 months after the wedding before you can even file for a divorce.

These types of situations are usually handled as an uncontested divorce and we can draft a Marital Settlement Agreement that will control the legal situation between the parties until the divorce can be granted, but the couple is still legally married until the judge signs the final decree.

So be sure before you get married!

If you have any questions about this or any other legal subject, please feel free to give us a call at 757-234-4650 or visit our website at