Roanoke Legal Issues Blog

What is the financial value of a stay-at-home mom in divorce?

When a couple makes the decision to have one person stay home and raise their children, they often aren't considering the ramifications that this situation could have in the event of a divorce. While about 7 percent of men stay home to raise their children, nearly 25 percent of women decide to leave the workforce and invest their time and energy into child-rearing. 

According to an article published in Forbes, women who become stay-at-home moms often do not get equal distribution of assets during the divorce process. This can be due to the fact that there is minimal legal value placed on the choice to stay at home, and because the man has acquired significantly more wealth during the time period of the marriage.

Chapter 7 bankruptcy and the means test

A lot of Virginians find themselves financially struggling at one point or another. While many of these individuals are able to climb out of debt or easily manage it, others find themselves completely overwhelmed. While many people in the latter category make an ambitious attempt to claw their way back to financial stability, this isn't always possible. These individuals may want to consider their debt relief options rather than wasting time and money on an effort that likely won't resolve favorably.

One of those debt relief options is Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Also known as liquidation bankruptcy, this process allows an individual to eliminate debt by selling off assets to repay creditors. Not everyone qualifies for this type of bankruptcy, though. In fact, before an individual can proceed with a Chapter 7 filing, he or she must pass what is referred to as a "means test."

Virginia's legally recognized grounds for divorce

A marriage that sours can cause emotional and financial strain for everyone involved, including children. Therefore, divorce is sometimes the best option. There are, of course, several considerations that must be taken into account before pursuing marriage dissolution, including property division, child custody, child support and spousal support. Yet, before those issues are addressed in a legal sense, one must be able to meet Virginia's requirements for divorce.

There are certain legally recognized grounds for divorce in Virginia. Adultery is one reason that is recognized by the law, and it is one that is utilized by many. Yet it is not the only legal justification for divorce. A couple can also seek divorce if a felony conviction leads to at least a year's worth of incarceration and no cohabitation occurs during that period. Divorce will also be granted by the court if one party is cruel, harms or abandons the other party, but only after one year has passed.

Credit card debt at highest level in more than a decade

If you listen to the news, then it sounds like the economy is clipping along at a considerable pace. Yet, despite this news, many Roanoke-area residents find themselves struggling to get by. Oftentimes they live paycheck-to-paycheck and are only one unexpected expense away from financial ruin. Others have already turned to credit cards to help makes ends meet.

Economy experts are seeing an increase in credit card debt, too. In fact, it is at its highest level since 2008, with the average household carrying more than $9,000 in credit card balances. To make matters worse, those who are unable to meet their monthly obligations on these debts can see enormous penalties and skyrocketing interest rates. These factors can quickly lead to debt that is out of hand and insurmountable.

Can social media affect the outcome of your divorce?

Reminders to use social media constantly surround you. The world repeatedly tells you to tweet about this, take a Snapchat of that and “like” things on Facebook. It feels like you can’t escape the pressure to share your life online.

It is not surprising, then, that social media is also relevant when you get a divorce. If you are separating from your spouse, you should know how the Internet factors into the process.

Factors a court considers when ordering child support

Raising children is an expensive endeavor. Many married couples in Virginia are fortunate enough to have two incomes to draw from to cover day-to-day living expenses as well as medical, schooling and extracurricular costs. But when an individual becomes a custodial parent, he or she may have to flip the bill by him or herself. This can be financially challenging, to say the least, and may threaten to throw an individual into a debt spiral.

To prevent this, custodial parents should consider seeking child support from the child's noncustodial parent. The state has child support guidelines that help courts determine how much financial contribution a noncustodial parent should make, but there can be deviations from those guidelines. When deciding whether a deviation is warranted, a court will consider a number of factors. Amongst these factors are custodial and visitation arrangements, the parents' debts accrued during the marriage, any special needs possessed by the child and the standard of living that the child enjoyed during the course of the parents' relationship.

What is considered in spousal support determinations?

Getting divorced can be an emotional blow, but it can also leave a Virginian facing very real financial difficulties. Many individuals find it challenging to transition from a two income household to a single income household, especially when the marital property that they once had equal claim to is subjected to the property division process. These financial consequences of divorce can be especially hard for those who have given up a career or education to raise a family. When these individuals find themselves amidst a divorce, they may rightfully be concerned about how they are going to make ends meet.

Fortunately, these individuals may be able to successfully seek spousal support. These payments, which can be made monthly or in one lump sum, seek to provide a spouse who gave up opportunities the financial support he or she deserves. Of course, this can be a challenging issue to address in divorce, with each side having vastly different ideas about what is fair, which is why Virginia law gives family law judges some guidance as far as what to consider when deciding spousal support matters.

What are the requirements for filing for Chapter 13 bankruptcy?

Many Virginians struggle with overwhelming debt. An unexpected medical condition, the sudden loss of a job or even a bad turn in the economy can leave an individual facing financial uncertainty. While many individuals remain prideful and try to dig themselves out of their financial hole, in a lot of cases this just makes matters worse. This is especially true because debt relief options are available to those who qualify, meaning that struggling to make good on insurmountable debt is just delaying a fresh financial start.

One of the best ways to rid yourself of unwanted debt is to seek bankruptcy protection. Chapter 13 is one form of bankruptcy that individuals can seek. Here, an individual creates a manageable repayment plan that they must adhere to for a specified period of time. If the plan is successfully completed, then some debts may be forgiven.

Child custody, visitation and parental relocation

People in our society are more mobile than ever before. For many, packing up and moving to a new city or state is merely a matter of coming up with the money to relocate. For divorced parents, though, a move can trigger legal issues that, if not settled amongst the parties, may have to be dealt with in court.

Under Virginia law, a custodial parent must provide at least 30 days' notice to the court and the noncustodial parent before moving with the child. This provides the noncustodial parent the opportunity to object to the move by filing for a modification of custody. If this occurs, then the custodial parent might have to show that the move will not damage the relationship between the child and his or her noncustodial parent. This can be a tricky situation to address for noncustodial parents. If that parent's relationship with the child is small or underdeveloped, then the court may determine that the move has little to no effect on the relationship. On the other hand, a court may have the same position when there is a strong relationship, finding that the move will not be significant enough to damage such a strong bond.

Property division and separate property

While divorce is certainly an emotional event, it is also a major financial one. Individuals may be on the receiving or paying end of child support and alimony, and property division can set the stage for one's post-divorce financial standing. This is why Virginians need to understand the law as it pertains to these family law matters. Only by doing so can they better ensure that they negotiate and argue for resolutions that further their financial interests.

These arguments are often required when it comes to property division. Virginia recognizes equitable division of marital property, which means that assets should be divided fairly amongst the parties. This is not the same as an even split of assets and debts. One major issue that arises in this context, though, is what constitutes marital property and is therefore subject to property division. This is because property that is deemed to be separately owned is not divisible during marriage dissolution.

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