Virginia Family Law Attorney
If you are going through a divorce that involves a child custody dispute or a complex property division, you know all-too-well how difficult it can be to resolve differences without extended litigation or a lengthy battle in court. At MichieHamlett, our Virginia family law attorneys take cases across the spectrum from simple to complex, uncontested to contested, amicable to heated. We’ll work with you, your spouse and their attorney to create a property settlement agreement, parenting plan or marital settlement agreement that meets your needs and the approval of the court. When an out-of-court settlement isn’t in the cards, count on our experienced team of family law litigators to fully protect your rights and interests at trial or appeal. Divorce is never easy, but with an experienced and dedicated divorce attorney by your side, you can move on to the next chapter in your life with your legal rights intact and the best interests of you and your children reflected in the divorce decree and accompanying court orders.
The family law practice at MichieHamlett extends beyond divorce and encompasses a wide range of legal issues that touch upon familial relationships. Contact us for help with any Virginia family law matter, including in particular:
- Custody and Visitation
- LGBTQIA Issues
- Assisted Reproductive Technology
Divorce and Separation in Virginia
The divorce process in Virginia begins with the filing of a petition in court and serving that petition on the other party. The petition can be filed in the county of residence where either spouse has resided for a least six months. The grounds for divorce can be fault or no-fault. Fault-based grounds include:
- Adultery that occurred within the past five years without the knowledge or consent of the other spouse, provided the innocent spouse ceased living with the adulterous spouse after learning of the adultery
- Conviction of a felony and incarceration for more than one year
- Cruelty – One spouse has physically or emotionally abused the other
- Abandonment/Willful Desertion – One spouse leaves home without the intent to return
A party can also file a no-fault divorce if the spouses have lived separate and apart for one year (with minor children) or six months (with no minor children and a resolution of issues through a separation agreement or marital property agreement). While the spouses are living apart, they can obtain a divorce from bed and board to establish issues such as custody and support during that time. Once the applicable time restriction has elapsed, the parties can get a divorce from the bond of matrimony, merging court orders and agreements from the earlier divorce or separation into the final decree.
Just as important as obtaining the divorce itself is resolving issues related to the equitable distribution of marital property (assets and debts), the payment of spousal support (alimony), and matters related to child custody and child support. Statutory factors and Virginia case law apply to each of these areas, leaving the judge with discretion on how to rule based on the evidence and arguments submitted by the parties. The orders of the court in these areas are final and enforceable, so it’s essential to get them done right the first time as much as possible. Our experienced Virginia divorce lawyers provide practical advice and strategic representation to help ensure your needs are met in these areas, whether negotiating a settlement agreement or litigating in court.
Virginia Child Custody Disputes
Regardless of whether parents are divorcing, separating, or were never married to begin with, it is vital to settle issues related to minor children according to the applicable Virginia laws. Courts will decide issues related to both physical custody and legal custody – in other words, which parent the children will live with and which parent has authority and responsibility for making child-rearing decisions in areas such as schooling, healthcare, religious upbringing and extracurricular activities. While the policy in Virginia is to encourage frequent and continuing contact with the children by both parents and shared decision-making to the maximum extent appropriate, the best interests of the children are always the dominant factor in any child custody matter. We’ll fight hard for your rights and interests and the best interests of your children in these areas, including the often-difficult decision of which parent will have primary physical custody versus visitation.
When it comes to determining child support, our family law attorneys can help ensure child support is calculated correctly under the Virginia guidelines for child support, including making sure both spouses disclose and report all income sources completely and accurately. Our child support lawyers are likewise prepared to argue for or against a deviation from the guidelines amount where appropriate, as well as any proposed post-divorce modification of support based on an alleged material change in circumstances.
Call the Virginia Family Law Attorneys at MichieHamlett
Family law matters can be emotionally difficult and complex. Our team is here to guide you through the thorniest issues with practical legal advice to help you make the best decisions for you and your family. In negotiations, mediation, arbitration or trial, our Virginia family law attorneys will represent your rights and help you get the best result for you to move on successfully and satisfied, ready to open a new chapter in your life. Call MichieHamlett at 434-951-7200 or toll-free throughout Virginia at 800-451-1288.