Thursday, September 8, 2016

Welcome Back to School!

It’s that time of year again when the kids go back to school or even start a new school. While the kids may have been nervous and sad that summer is over, hopefully they were excited to start school and see their friends and make new friends. We hope that everyone had a safe and enjoyable first day back to school!

Friday, June 12, 2015

What rights do fathers have in child custody?

Father's Day is approaching and so we turn to the dads.  I was surprised to see a story from the Associate Press out of Ohio a few weeks ago about how dads aren't getting fair consideration in custody matters. Virginia, thankfully, seems different.  Our courts seem to really focus on the best interests of the child (as the statute requires) and not on any predisposition of whether a mother or father should have custody (in same sex relationships, we may have two mothers or two fathers).  What does that mean?  It means that custody is determined after considering the following that is focused on the child: age and physical/mental health of each child and parent; developmental needs of the child; the relationship existing between each parent and each child; each parent's ability to accurately assess and meet the emotional, intellectual and physical needs of the child; the needs of the child including other important relationships of the child such as siblings and extended family; the role that each parent has played and will play in the future in the upbringing and care of the child; the propensity of each parent to actively support the child's contact and relationship with the other parent, including whether a parent has unreasonably denied the other parent access to or visitation with the child; the relative willingness and demonstrated ability of each parent to maintain a close and continuing relationship with the child, and the ability of each parent to cooperate in and resolve disputes regarding matters affecting the child.  Preference of the is one factor among these many if the court deems the child to be of reasonable intelligence, understanding, age and experience to express such a preference;any history of family abuse; and any such other factors as the court deems necessary and proper to the determination. 

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

How do settlement negotiations work in a divorce?

Some people want to reach agreed upon terms of custody, visitation, child support, spousal support and property division. It is a good approach that can allow parties to reach terms that work for them specifically. It can be a way to seek to maintain a respectful relationship particularly when children are involved.  Here are some things you should keep in mind:

1.  Negotiating an agreement requires cooperation on both a sides; and there needs to be a level of understanding and knowledge from both parties on the terms involved.
2.  Negotiating can include multiple steps that in which each party may be asked to participate at various times. These steps include but may not be limited to the following
3.  Collecting/exchanging information such as tax returns, paystubs, retirement information, bank statements, investment statements, IRA statements, mortgage statements, credit card statements, etc. is an important stage to help the attorney understand the marital estate, income for support purposes, etc.
4.  In negotiations, formal discovery through subpoenas and court mechanisms is not available where litigation has not been started. The attorneys have to rely on the parties for this information. This stage can take time depending on how much information one spouse has and how much information has to be gathered from the other spouse. Depending on the responsiveness of the other spouse, this stage can take several weeks.
5.  In addition to documentary information, clients are asked to consider what they want so that the attorney can draft a proposal.
6. After a proposal is put together that a client feels comfortable making, it is sent to the other party or counsel if the party is represented. They have the opportunity to review the proposal and then they may decide to make a counterproposal.
7.  There is no required time frame by which a response must be provided in negotiations; and there is no penalty per se for the other spouse not responding.
8.  When a response is received, the client then has the opportunity to review it and determine if and how he or she will respond.
9.  How many counterproposals may be made and/or received cannot be predicted at the outset of a case. Each round of a proposal/counterproposal can take different amounts of time.
10.  If an agreement is reached and fully executed, then at the statutory permitted time, unless otherwise agreed to, one party can begin the process to finalize the divorce. A divorce is not final upon execution of an agreement.
Negotiations are a good approach to a separation/divorce. It is important during the process to remember, however, that the myths associated with negotiations, i.e it is a quick resolution and/or a cheap resolution, may not be true. Each case is different with respect to how long it will take to reach an agreement or whether an agreement will be reached at all and what the fees/costs may be. We work with our clients to try to achieve their objectives based on the information we are provided in a prompt and timely manner.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Who should be part of my divorce team?

Having a group of people and professionals to assist you through the process of a divorce is important.  In addition to your legal team, you want to consider the benefits of a tax attorney, financial planner, accountant, therapist, real estate attorney, business attorney, wills and trust attorney as well as friends and family.  Each professional brings an area of knowledge that may be able to help when putting all the pieces together.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Speaker Series announced for Fall/Winter 2015

It has been a pleasure to bring you a monthly speakers series on topics of interest in family law, elder law or life in general.  We are excited to share our line up for the rest of 2015 (note: we are not having workshops in the summer to allow folks to travel, etc).

Sept. 16:  Caring for Mom & Dad - practical and legal considerations.
Oct. 14:  Parenting Schedules
Nov. 11:  Healthcare Issues for Seniors
Dec. 9:  College Financial Aid

Please join us at 7:30 a.m. for coffee followed by our presentation at 8:00 a.m.  12090 West Broad Street, Richmond VA.

Monday, May 11, 2015

I'm scared of my spouse. Can I get a protective order?

 In Virginia, if you are scared that your spouse may harm you, you can seek a family abuse protective order.  There are three kinds of family abuse protective orders: emergency, preliminary, and permanent.

    Emergency Protective Orders
    An emergency protective order may be granted by a circuit court, general district court, juvenile and domestic relations district court, or magistrate.  If the courts are closed on a day that you seek a protective order, you can still seek a protective order from a magistrate’s office.  Generally, the court may issue a protective order if the court finds that "(i) a warrant for a violation of 18.2-57.2has been issued and there is probable danger of further acts of family abuseagainst a family or household member by the respondent or (ii) reasonable grounds exist to believe that the respondent has committed family abuse and there is probable danger of a further such offense against a family orhousehold member by the respondent."

Family abuse means “any act involving violence, force, or threat that results in bodily injury or places one in reasonable apprehension of death, sexual assault, or bodily injury” that is committed by your husband.  Therefore, you do not have to wait until you are actually injured to seek a protective order.  If you can show that your husband’s actions involving violence, force, or threat caused you to reasonably believe you would be physically injured, sexually assaulted, or killed, you can seek a protective order.

  Generally, an emergency protective order lasts until 11:59 p.m. on the third day following its issuance.

    Preliminary Protective Order
    A preliminary protective order may be requested from a juvenile and domestic relations district court.  A preliminary protective order may be issued upon a showing that you are, or have been, within a reasonable period of time, subjected to family abuse, as defined above.  Generally, a preliminary protective order lasts for up to 15 days.  A hearing will be set within 15 days of issuance of the preliminary protective order to determine whether a permanent protective order is necessary.  To request a preliminary protective order against your spouse, you should go to the juvenile and domestic relations district court and fill out the appropriate forms. 

    Permanent Protective Order
    The determination of whether a permanent protective order shall be issued is made at the hearing set by the court within 15 days of issuance of the preliminary protective order.  The permanent protective order can last for up to 2 years.  At the end of the initial term of the protective order, you can petition for a renewal of the order.

By Kari Jackson, Associate at Hall & Hall, PLC



Thursday, May 7, 2015

Why do I need an expert to get my spouses' business valued for a divorce?

    When faced with divorce, one component that you must think about is the division of marital assets.  Virginia is an equitable distribution state, which means that the courts will divide and award assets between the parties in a way that is “equitable.”  When determining what division of assets would be equitable in a given case, Virginia law requires the court to determine the legal title as between the parties, and the ownership and value of all property.  A marital business interest held by either you or your spouse is considered an asset, and therefore, will be subject to valuation.  

    When divorcing parties are business owners, equitable distribution becomes much more complex. Unlike many other assets, the valuation of a business is complicated and requires the help of a financial expert/forensic accountant to get an accurate assessment of the business’ value.  In addition to valuing the business, a forensic accountant can be helpful in determining the income of a spouse who is an owner and/or owner of the company.
    Often, starting and running a business requires a significant commitment of marital and/or separate capital.  The business may provide a significant source of income upon which you and your spouse have relied upon for years.  In order to aid in the division of assets, an accurate valuation of the business and determination of income is an important part of the rights that you may seek to protect.

By Kari Jackson, Associate at Hall & Hall