We Know Virginia Family Law
In Virginia, family law issues can be resolved through a number of different methods, including negotiation, mediation, litigation or collaborative law. Many family law cases also involve other areas of law, including tax law and issues of jurisdiction. Our firm is full service and handles every area of law you and your family might need.
Comprehensive Legal Assistance
- Adoption: We work with individuals and couples in step parent and family adoption matters. We will prepare and file all legal documents to protect your interests. We do not handle nonrelative, third-party adoptions.
- Annulment: Although limited in Virginia, we can help you seek an annulment for qualifying circumstances such as proof of fraud or duress.
- Domestic violence: We aggressively represent those who have been victims of domestic abuse as well as individuals falsely accused of domestic violence. If you or your children have been a victim of domestic violence, we can help you obtain a Protection Order for your safety. Please contact us for a confidential consultation right away if you face issues of domestic violence.
- Elder care and planning: Significant family changes, including divorce, often require the need to update your will, trusts, power of attorney or living will. We can help you protect your assets for intended beneficiaries and plan effectively for end-of-life care.
- Prenuptial agreements: If you are getting married and bring significant assets into the marriage, we can help you put an agreement in place that governs the distribution of your property in the event of separation or divorce.
- Same-sex relationships: If you are involved in a same-sex relationship, we can help you take steps to protect your property and other interests, including custody matters.
Sharing Our Knowledge
As advanced family law practitioners, we provide practical knowledge on the emotional and financial implications of your family’s legal issues. We will counsel you on how the law will impact your daily life and how to make smart choices that protect your family’s future.
Here are several quick primers on specific family law issues to help deepen your knowledge.
These are agreements into which a couple enters before their marriage, and which generally govern the way they intend to manage their finances during the marriage. The “prenup” usually determines how property will be distributed in the event of a divorce, and may also include provisions for keeping assets and income separate during the marriage. Parties have great latitude in fashioning agreements to fit their circumstances before entering into marriage, but they may postpone discussing and actually drafting such an agreement in the hectic time before their wedding, Virginia law specifies that agreements executed both prior and subsequent to marriage are enforceable as valid contracts, so time need not be a factor in actually achieving a workable arrangement for individual couples. An essential factor in the enforceability of such agreements is ensuring that both parties have independent attorneys who review these kinds of agreements. Our firm takes pride in counseling clients to enter into valid contracts which help avoid bickering over the many day to day problems which arise in marriage, and which assist them in deciding uncoupling issues if a marriage ends.
Jurisdiction in divorce and custody cases is another extremely complicated area of domestic relations law. A court must have jurisdiction over the people involved in a case and/or the subject matter of the case before hearing issues relevant to the parties. In our practice, we handle issues regarding jurisdiction over active duty military personnel and jurisdiction disputes between parties residing in different states. Interstate custody jurisdiction is governed by the Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act and the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act. These are laws that outline a detailed process to follow in cases where there is a custody dispute between parties residing in different states. The policy behind the law is to determine the most appropriate forum for jurisdiction so that a parent is not able to remove a child from his or her home in a manner that is against the child’s best interest to gain an advantage in a custody dispute. Child support jurisdiction is governed by the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act, as codified under Virginia law, which provides a mechanism for states to ensure that children receive support regardless of where their parents may reside. There are other jurisdictional issues that arise in domestic relations cases including jurisdiction over military personnel and their pensions and jurisdiction in contempt cases.
We represent victims of domestic violence in obtaining Civil Protective Orders, and we represent clients who have been falsely accused of domestic violence in defending against the issuance of Protective Orders. Domestic violence in Virginia is an act of family abuse between spouses, family, and/or household members, which can include a threat of harm which leaves the victim in fear for his or her immediate safety or well-being. Domestic violence can also be in the form of verbal, emotional, or even financial abuse, but it is difficult to obtain a Protective Order in our court system without an actual threat or act of violence. Victims of domestic violence come from all walks of life, and they are often mired in a cycle of violence, power, and control which damages their self-worth and leaves them feeling powerless and vulnerable. Domestic violence can be especially traumatic for children who witness abuse between their parents. We strive to empower our clients by assisting them through the legal process of obtaining a Protective Order, while providing them with personal counseling about issues such as safety planning to help take back control of their lives. If you or someone you care about is a victim of domestic violence, you should call the police and report the incident to your local magistrate. You can also call the National Domestic Violence hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) for more information and a list of further resources.
We have experience handling cases that have been appealed from our local Circuit Courts to the Virginia Court of Appeals. Our attorneys are knowledgeable about the specific procedural requirements for perfecting appeals, and we have an in-depth understanding of the myriad of issues that are argued on appeal in divorce cases. Our reported cases include Gallagher v. Gallagher, 35 Va. App. 470 (2201), Sinnott v. Sinnott, Record No. 0576-92-4, Va. App. 1993 (unpub.), and Clements v. Clements, 10 Va. App. 580 (1990).
We have experience helping clients obtain annulments, although they are limited in Virginia. The law requires proof of some type of fraud or duress, or a specific list of other circumstances in order for a marriage to be annulled. See Virginia Codes (1950 as amended) 20-89.1, 20-13, 20-38.1, and 20-45.1
When you’re ready to call, we’re ready to help. Reach us at 703-836-9030, or contact us here.
(*AV, BV and CV are registered certification marks of Reed Elsevier Properties Inc., used in accordance with the Martindale-Hubbell certification procedures, standards, and policies. Martindale-Hubbell is the facilitator of a peer review rating process. Ratings reflect the confidential opinions of members of the Bar and the judiciary. Martindale-Hubbell ratings fall into two categories – legal ability and general ethical standards.)