Archive for the ‘Divorce’ Category

PRENUP FOR ‘MATURE’ COUPLES

Sunday, June 10th, 2018

We’ve all heard of couples who have a prenuptial agreement to deal with inherited wealth, but we probably think a prenup is only for when one spouse is wealthy and the other spouse does not own as much.  That is just one of the situations where a prenup is a good idea.

Wealth is not the only criteria for creating a prenup, making sure you know about the resources that each spouse owns and how those resources will be distributed if the marriage ends in divorce.

Another situation where you might want a prenup is when this is not the first marriage for either or both of the spouses, especially if there are children of a previous marriage.  People often want to ensure that the resources they have gathered prior to this marriage are going to be used for their biological children in the situation where their marriage to someone who is not the other parent of those children comes to an end.  A good estate plan can assist with the distribution of assets, but an estate plan often comes into play only after someone’s death, and not when a marriage ends in divorce.

Age is another factor to be considered because future earning power often becomes limited due to a much shorter remaining life span.  For example, someone in their twenties has over forty years to earn sufficient funds to support their lifestyle, while the earning lifespan for someone in their forties or fifties is very much reduced.

Also, it is less likely that someone in their twenties will have established a large retirement fund while it is more likely that someone past the age of fifty has at least started to fund a retirement plan.

In addition, it is always a good idea to think about how a partnership will end while the people still like each other.  We usually suggest that people draft an agreement about how to end a business while they are drafting the business organizational documents.  It is the same with a marriage.

If you have further questions about a prenup, or if you need some help in getting started, please contact our office at 757-234-4650 to schedule a consultation. We would like the opportunity to help you get started!

How long does it take to get divorced?

Tuesday, February 13th, 2018

I get this question a lot.

People call and ask if they can get divorced in three days (I guess there are places where that can happen, but it is NOT in Virginia!).

A quick, easy, painless divorce in Virginia is almost impossible, but you can help things move more quickly if you and your soon-to-be-ex-spouse can agree on things. Even with a ‘simple’ no-property, no children and non-contested divorce, the courts will require a separation of at least six months. Why? Because the Commonwealth of Virginia thinks that marriage is a very serious commitment and leaving a marriage is a very serious decision.

Another question I get is whether or not a ‘better’ attorney can make things go faster? The answer is ‘not really’.

There are certain procedures that must be followed, and some of these take time. There might be a way to reduce this time if possible, but that really takes a lot of agreement between the parties. And if the parties could agree with each other, the chances are that they wouldn’t be in the process of needing (or wanting) a divorce!

I’ve also found that ‘non contested’ divorces have a way of turning into ‘contested’ situations. Which means that the ‘simple’ case often turns into a more complex case as things progress.

I’ve heard of divorce cases that dragged on for 10 years, although this is definitely NOT the norm!

So, how long does it take to get divorced? I’d plan on a minimum of six months from the date you make the decision to the date of the final decree. And that’s if things all go as well as they can.  It may be a little faster than this, but you should always plan on a few ‘hiccups’ along the way.

You can contact Beavers Law, P.C. by calling our office at 757-234-4650 or by visiting us on the web at www.BeaversLaw.com

How do I get a divorce in Virginia?

Tuesday, September 26th, 2017

There are 6 basic steps to getting a divorce in the Commonwealth of Virginia:

You should also be aware that there are two types of divorce in Virginia. A ‘divorce a vinculo matrimonii’ (or a ‘divorce from the bonds of matrimony’) is the type of divorce most of us recognize. It is a final dissolution of the marriage and after this divorce the parties can be remarried.

A ‘Divorce a mensa et thoro’ (or a ‘divorce from bed and board’) is more like a legal separation and might be the first stage of the ‘regular’ dissolution. When this type of divorce is granted, the parties are not free to remarry.

Step 1 is to be married. I know this sounds odd, but I’ve had calls from people who are living together without being married and who want a divorce. In general, Virginia does not recognize common-law marriages, but if this is a concern for you, call the office and we can discuss your situation.

Step 2 is to decide if you have ‘grounds’ for your divorce. If you are getting a divorce because of your spouse’s adultery, cruelty, desertion or one of the other grounds for a fault divorce, you might be able to get your divorce more quickly. Call the office with information about these grounds because your actions after you find out about the grounds may make a difference.

Of course, you don’t necessarily need grounds for a divorce. It may be that you and your spouse just have irreconcilable differences. You can still get a divorce, it just means you need to approach it differently.

Step 3 is separation. If you do not have fault grounds for your divorce, you and your spouse must live apart (which means no marital relations) for six months (if you and your spouse have a property agreement and there are no children) or twelve months (if there are children and/or you and your spouse have not come to an agreement on the separation of property).

Step 4 is to file your complaint. This is the document that tells the court the basic information about your marriage…where you and your spouse live now, when and where you were married, whether you have children, what type of divorce you want and why…and what you want the court to do.

Step 5 is depositions. These are questions and answers conducted under oath. If the divorce is non-contested this can usually be done in your attorney’s office. If the divorce is contested, the depositions might be taken in court. You will be asked some questions and you will also need to provide a witness (who can be a friend or relative as long as they are at least 18 years old) and that witness will also be asked some questions.

One of the things that you and your witness will need to say under oath is that you and your spouse have lived separate and apart for the required amount of time.

Step 6 is the final decree. Your lawyer will prepare this document and send it to the court and when the judge signs it, your divorce is final.

If there are issues that the court needs to resolve, such as custody, visitation, child support, spousal support or division of property; you may be involved in one or several hearings in court. Evidence will be presented and the judge will make a decision. Of course, if you and your spouse have already discussed these issues and have come to an agreement, your attorney can document those decisions and present them to the court, which will make the entire process go more quickly and with less stress.

This is just a quick summary of the steps needed. Each case is slightly different and you situation may entail additional actions. Your attorney can help you chart how you should proceed.

What can I expect as a property settlement?

Sunday, March 8th, 2009

When you get a divorce,the courts will only try to divide what is termed ‘marital’ property. Any property that is termed ‘separate’ property will be granted to the person who owns that separate property. In general, any property that you owned before you got married, obtained during the marriage by a gift or inheritance, or you obtained after your separation, will be termed your ‘separate’ property.

Anything else is termed ‘marital’ property. This ‘marital property’ is what most people fight about during a divorce.

Virginia uses what is called ‘equitable distribution’ to divide property at the time of a divorce. “Equitable” means ‘fair’, not necessarily equal.

In most cases where there aren’t any strong compelling arguments, the division of marital property will probably be equal (or close to equal) because that is also fair. But there are situations that can make a difference.

The first step in any property division is to correctly identify property as ‘his separate property’, ‘her separate property’ and ‘their marital property’. While this sounds simple, it can get quite complicated. It is very important to keep good records so that separate property can remain identified.

Code of Virginia section 20-107.3 is the statute that outlines the steps to be taken for property distribution. Paragraph E lists 11 criteria that the court uses when it makes the determination about how to divide marital property. As in many areas of the law, there is a ‘catch all’ criteria that allows the court to consider ‘Such other factors as the court deems necessary or appropriate to consider in order to arrive at a fair and equitable monetary award.’

The best arrangement is for the parties to agree to a property settlement that they have negotiated themselves. It is quicker, cheaper, and probably closer to what each party really wants. But, if the parties cannot agree, the court will make a decision about the property division and the parties will be required to follow that court decision.

And the court’s decision will be ‘equitable’ based on all of the information that is available to the judge.