Roanoke Legal Issues Blog

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.

Medical debt continues to spur personal bankruptcy

Health care has been a focus of the political world for decades. With the passage of the Affordable Care Act in 2010, many were hopeful that more Americans would be able to obtain the medical care they needed at a fair price. Sadly, though, a recently released study conducted by the Consumer Bankruptcy Project found that two-thirds of bankruptcy filings were spurred by unaffordable medical expenses and lost income caused by a medical condition. This number is in-line with bankruptcy statistics that pre-date the Affordable Care Act.

The tragic reality is that many Americans are facing financial devastation at the hands of medical bills. The study found that approximately 530,000 Americans are finding their financial resources completely depleted due to medical expenses. While many Americans have health insurance through their employer, many of these plans are riddled with loopholes and exceptions that leave individuals under-insured. In short, most of us are one serious medical condition away from financial ruin.

Can student loan debt be discharged through bankruptcy?

A vast portion of the population is struggling to find a way to cope with student loan payments. Some of these individuals feel cheated, since they felt that higher education was necessary to achieve a better financial outlook, only to be saddled with burdensome debt for years to come. This is especially true for those who find themselves on hard economic times, whether due to an unexpected medical condition, a lost job or wages that don't live up to expectations.

This leads many to consider bankruptcy. However, those considering personal bankruptcy should be aware that it is extremely difficult to discharge student loan debt through the bankruptcy process. In order to succeed, an individual must show that the student loan repayment plan poses an undue hardship. This can be challenging, especially given the various income-based repayment plans available to borrowers. However, successfully discharging this debt is not impossible.

How best interest of the child is determined in custody cases

To determine custody decision, the courts top priority in all considerations is the "best interest" of the child.

 But, what exactly are these best interests and how do the courts determine which interests are most important?

Prenuptial agreements to avoid troublesome property division

Divorce can be an emotionally and financially taxing process. It can leave individuals angry and fearful for their future. This can force people to aggressively pursue the things that are important to them, whether that be child support, child custody or certain assets during the property division process. As contentious as these matters can be, a number of them can be avoided even before the issues arise.

This is frequently accomplished through prenuptial agreements. These agreements are essentially contracts between soon-to-be spouses that dictate how certain divorce legal issues will be settled in the event of divorce. A prenuptial agreement can specify how assets will be divided and determine which property will be considered separate and which will be considered marital, which can have tremendous ramifications for the property division process. A prenuptial agreement can also spell out how debts will be divided, which can help protect an individual from unexpected financial obligations post-divorce.

Roanoke firm stands ready to assist with child custody issues

Our last post on the blog discussed substance abuse and the profound impact it can have on children. Since it can have a tremendous effect on children, substance abuse issues should be aggressively litigated when brought up in the context of a child custody dispute. After all, the presence of substance abuse, if presented to the court effectively, can result in reduced or even eliminated contact with one's child. Therefore, when confronting this issue, there is often a lot at stake.

But substance abuse is not the only factor that can play a role in a child custody or visitation determination. Issues such as domestic violence, the child's relationship with the parent, the child's ability to retain close connections to other family members and a parent's financial ability to care for the child can all be crucial in the outcomes of these disputes. Parents who are unable to present their position in an aggressive and persuasive way may find themselves in danger of losing their relationship with their child.

How substance abuse affects child custody and visitation

Child custody and visitation disputes are always resolved with the child's best interest in mind. This is true regardless of whether the matter is settled between parents or decided by a court of law. Because there are many factors that can contribute to a child's best interest, these issues are usually ripe for legal argument.

As the opioid epidemic continues to wrap its icy grip around the country, many families are struggling to figure out how substance abuse affects child custody and visitation issues. The simple answer is that substance abuse can have a tremendous impact on a child's well-being and therefore the legal issues that affect them. Children who are exposed to parents who struggle with substance abuse issues are more likely to have low self-esteem, poor school performance and an increased risk of developing anxiety and depression.

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