21 Apr 2016

Virginia Prenuptial Agreements

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Pre-Nuptial with RingsA prenuptial agreement[1] is a written contract created by two people before they are married. The agreement typically lists all of the property each person owns as well as a listing of each person’s debts.  Virginia law requires a prenuptial agreement to be voluntary, in writing and signed by both parties. It also establishes certain requirements for the content of such agreements and requires disclosure of property and financial obligations prior to marriage in order to be enforceable.  An experienced Arlington prenuptial agreement attorney can explain all of the necessary legal requirements under Virginia law.

Who Needs an Arlington Prenuptial Agreement?

While many individuals believe that only wealthy couples benefit from the existence of a prenuptial agreement, second marriage couples, older couples, and even couples of modest means can benefit from the execution of a prenuptial agreement prior to their wedding day for varied reasons including:

  • Second marriages:  A second marriage couple with children from prior relationships can benefit from the existence of a prenuptial agreement in order to determine what will happen to their property when they die.  Without such an agreement, a surviving spouse may have the right to claim a large portion of the other spouse’s property, leaving little to pass to the deceased party’s children from the prior relationships.
  • Financial rights:  Couples can use a prenuptial agreement to clarify their financial rights and responsibilities during the marriage regardless of their level of wealth.
  • Divorce arguments:  Prenuptial agreements can specify in advance how their property will be divided and whether or not either spouse will receive alimony or spousal support in the event of a future divorce.
  • Debt protection:  A prenuptial agreement can be used to protect spouses from each other’s debts.

Arlington Divorce Without a Prenuptial Agreement

When an Arlington, Virginia couple files for divorce without a valid prenuptial agreement, Virginia state laws determine who owns the property that was acquired during the marriage.  In the state of Virginia, a marriage is considered to be a contract between two people and with that contract an individual can:

  • Share ownership of property acquired during marriage.  The Virginia Bar Association provides that marital property[2] is defined as all jointly-owned property and all other property, other than separate property, acquired from the date of the marriage to the date of separation. Typical examples of marital property are the marital home titled in the names of both spouses or a retirement account accumulated during the marriage even if the account is only in the name of one spouse.
  • Incur debts during the marriage for which the other spouse may be partially or wholly liable.

Creating an Arlington Prenuptial Agreement

There was a time in Virginia when courts scrutinized prenuptial agreements which typically involved a waiver of legal and financial benefits by the less wealthy spouse.  With more financial equality between spouses now occurring, courts are increasingly willing to uphold prenuptial agreements. Because judges still look carefully at these types of agreements, however, it is important to speak to an experienced Arlington prenuptial agreement to make certain that the terms of the agreement are negotiated and drafted in such a manner to best protect your rights.

Contact an Arlington, Virginia Prenuptial Agreement Attorney

If you are contemplating getting engaged or are already engaged and plan to get married, speak to an Arlington prenuptial attorney to determine if you can protect your rights and your property with the execution of a prenuptial agreement before your wedding day.  Call The Law Office of Raymond B. Benzinger P.C. today at (703) 383-1362.

References:

[1] http://law.lis.virginia.gov/vacodepopularnames/premarital-agreement-act/
[2] http://www.vsb.org/site/publications/financial-issues-in-divorce

Decision About DivorceIf you are one of the more than 1.3 million active duty[1] American military personnel stationed around the world, or if you are married to someone who is, there are family and divorce issues that are specific to military families that do not apply to a civilian marriage.  When one spouse is an active service member it affects where a divorce can be filed, how support is calculated, pension rights and other benefits.

Filing for a Virginia Military Divorce

In order to start the divorce process, it is necessary to first determine where the Petition should be filed.  The court that grants a divorce must have something known as “jurisdiction” over both you and your spouse.  In most instances, you will file for divorce in a state where the military spouse is living or is a resident, or perhaps in a state that you and your spouse both agree for the filing.  An experienced Arlington military divorce attorney can explain your options in greater detail and determine the appropriate place for filing.

Support for Arlington Children and Spouses

As with civilian families, service members are legally required to support their children.  The Department of Defense[2] requires that service members comply with support, custody, and visitation orders.  The military even provides for sanctions, including punishment as severe as separation from the military, if a service member fails to pay support.  In a military divorce, there are often times issues concerning the enforcement of support orders when the service member is deployed as well as the modification of support agreements.

Military Pension Rights After an Arlington Divorce

At its core, the military is an employer that provides employment benefits to its employees including medical benefits, pension benefits and life insurance.  All of the employment benefits are subject to division at the time of your divorce but with very specific rules and regulations that apply only to military personnel.  Only an Arlington military divorce attorney can explain all of the rules that might apply to the division of benefits on behalf of your family

Contact an Arlington Military Divorce Attorney

If you and your spouse are having a difficult time in your marriage and you are contemplating getting divorced, or if your spouse has already filed for divorce, it is important to speak to an experienced Arlington military divorce lawyer as soon as possible.  A Virginia military divorce has many different deadlines and intricacies that do not apply to a civilian divorce and only a skilled military divorce attorney can explain these differences and best protect your interests.  Call The Law Office of Raymond B. Benzinger P.C. today at (703) 383-1362.

References:

[1] http://www.defense.gov/News/News-Releases/News-Release-View/Article/652687/department-of-defense-dod-releases-fiscal-year-2017-presidents-budget-proposal
[2] http://www.dfas.mil/garnishment.html

relocationAs is often the case with legal questions, the answer is “it depends.” The determination of child custody is often one of the most acrimonious and difficult in a divorce or separation case. Often, a child may reside primarily with one parent while the other parent has visitation rights. In other cases, parents share physical custody of a child for predetermined periods of time. In our modern society, moving to a new city or even across is country has become common, but these moves obviously have significant implications when it comes to court ordered child custody arrangements. When a custody arrangement exists, the parent who wishes to relocate a child must first obtain the permission of a court with jurisdiction over their custody case. Because of the complicated legal issues that often arise in these cases, anyone who wishes to relocate or to stop the other parent from relocating with a child should discuss their situation with a Virginia child custody lawyer as soon as possible.

What is the Standard for Relocating a Child in Virginia?

A common theme in determining child custody arrangements is determining what type of arrangement would be in the best interest of the child. Cases regarding child relocation are no exception. In determining if a move is in the best interests of the child, a court will consider several factors, including the following:

  • The effect the move will have of the relationship between the child and the non-custodial parent
  • How much the proposed move would affect the non-custodial parent’s visitation with the child
  • The reasons that the custodial parent wants to move, including proximity to other family members, opportunities for employment, and the economic stability of the parent

In addition, the court will consider the level of involvement the non-custodial parent has with the child. If there is little or no involvement, the court will likely conclude that the move will have little effect on the non-custodial parent’s relationship, and is therefore more likely to allow the move.

Contact a Virginia child custody lawyer today

If you are involved in a child relocation issue or any other matter regarding child custody, you should talk to an attorney as soon as possible. To schedule a consultation with attorney Raymond B. Benzinger, call our office today at (703) 312-0410.

Practice Area:

http://virginiafamilylawlawyers.com/parental-relocation/

military divorceChild custody determinations are among the most contested aspects of a divorce or separation. While these issues are difficult for nearly everyone, the unique circumstances of military service members can make child custody disputes particularly complicated. While child custody matters are determined by state courts, there are certain issues that arise in military divorces that may not arise in divorces in which both parents are civilians.

Military members are subject to lengthy deployments as well as being reassigned to different locations, situations which may significantly impact the ability of divorced or separated parents to share parenting rights and responsibilities. As a result, all of the branches of the military require single parents or dual-member households to have a family care plan to deal with the issues that may be raised in the event of a deployment or relocation. Because of the complicated legal issues that can be raised in a military divorce where child custody is an issue, any military member or military spouse considering a divorce should consult with a Virginia military divorce lawyer as soon as possible.

What is in a Family Care Plan?

A family care plan details what happens to any children a service member may have in the event the service member is absent for a period of time. It is a collection of documents that determines the following:

  • Who shall provide care for a service member’s children in the event of his or her absence
  • Who shall provide for a service member’s other dependents in the event of his or her absence
  • Who shall have short term custody in the event of a no-notice deployment
  • Who shall have long term custody if it becomes necessary
  • Information about how any children will be supported financially  during the service member’s absence

It is important to note that while a family care plan does not create or deny any rights, it can be an effective tool in establishing evidence of responsible parenting in the event of a child custody dispute.

Contact a Virginia military divorce lawyer today

If you are a military member or military spouse considering a divorce, you should discuss your situation with an experienced family law attorney as soon as possible. To schedule a consultation with Raymond B. Benzinger, call our office today at (703) 312-0410.

no fault divorceHistorically, the government has taken an interest in keeping married couples together. Prior to the advent of no-fault divorce, the party seeking a divorce must have established some ground for the divorce, such as marital misconduct or habitual drunkenness. Virginia is one of the states that still recognizes fault grounds for divorce, but has also established a ground which does not require fault. Because of the complexities of Virginia family law, anyone seeking a divorce should discuss their case with a Virginia divorce lawyer before taking any legal action.

Virginia law recognizes two types of divorce – divorce from bed and board and divorce from the bond of matrimony. Below is some information about each.

Divorce from Bed and Board

Divorce from bed and board is a partial divorce in which the parties no longer cohabitate but are not yet allowed to remarry. There are two grounds that are recognized as valid for this type of divorce:

  • Willful desertion and abandonment – This ground requires that one party end cohabitation with an intent to desert the other party. Importantly, consensual separation is not sufficient to establish ground for this type of divorce.
  • Cruelty and reasonable apprehension of bodily harm – “Cruelty” refers to act that cause bodily harm and make a spouse’s living conditions unsafe.

As a partial divorce, divorce from bed and board can be merged into a decree for a full divorce (discussed below) after a year after the parties have separated.

Divorce from the Bond of Matrimony

Divorce from the bond of matrimony is a complete and final divorce. The grounds for this type of divorce are:

  • Separation – This is Virginia’s version of a no-fault divorce. A complete divorce will be granted if the spouses can show that they have intended to and in fact have lived apart continuously for more than one year. If there are no children and the parties have entered into an agreement regarding property or separation the time they must be apart is only 6 months.
  • Adultery, sodomy, or buggery – Adultery refers to sexual relations with another person, sodomy means a sexual act other than intercourse, and buggery refers to a sexual act against nature, such as bestiality.
  • Conviction of a crime – if either spouse has been convicted of a crime and sentenced to more than one year in prison, the other spouse has grounds for a complete divorce.

It is  important to note that while Virginia law allows for no-fault divorce, fault may still be an issue when determining the division of marital property or awarding maintenance (alimony) to either party.

Contact a Virginia divorce attorney today

If you are considering getting a divorce, you should discuss your case with an experienced attorney as soon as possible. To schedule a free consultation with Virginia family law attorney Raymond B. Benzinger, call our office today at (703) 312-0410.

high asset divorceWhen people with high-net worth decide to get divorced, complicated issues related to the division of property often come into play. Unfortunately, the division of assets tends to bring out the worst in some people, and attempts to come to an amicable agreement often break down. When this occurs, the parties rely on the judgment of the court to distribute in an equitable manner based on the circumstances and in compliance with the applicable law. Sometimes, an unscrupulous party to a divorce will attempt to hide assets from the other spouse or the court in an attempt to keep them from being part of any settlement agreement or court-ordered division of property.  With so much on the line, it is important that anyone who suspects their spouse of hiding assets discuss their situation with an experienced Virginia High Asset divorce lawyer as soon as possible. The assistance of an attorney can often uncover the existence of hidden assets, and ensure that you receive your fair share of the marital property.

Uncovering Hidden Assets

High-net worth individuals often have sophisticated asset management structures designed to protect their assets and minimize their tax liabilities. These could include trusts, family owned businesses, off-shore accounts, or deferred compensation accounts. Not only does the existence of these entities and legal relationships greatly complicate the division of assets, but it also provides the parties with to a divorce an opportunity to obfuscate or hide assets.  As a result, it is extremely important for high-net worth individuals who are going through a divorce to retain an attorney who not only understands family law, but also understands the sophisticated financial management techniques that high asset individuals employ to manage those assets.

A skilled attorney will use the discovery process in order to determine whether your spouse is attempting to conceal assets. Discovery involves a formal legal process through which the parties to litigation can request information relevant to the issues being litigated. Some of the methods they may employ include:

  • Depositions
  • Demanding the inspection physical assets
  • Compelling the production of documents
  • Interrogatories

In addition, if you have wealth and are planning to marry, you should always contact a skilled family law attorney to discuss a premarital agreement in order to potentially avoid any property division issues in the case of divorce.

Contact a Virginia Divorce Attorney for help

No matter how much property you may have, you should always have an experienced family lawyer on your side. If you are facing divorce, call the Law office of Raymond B. Benzinger today.

juvenile delinquentFor most parents, trouble with your children is one of the biggest worries you may have. When your child is accused of a crime, you likely are highly emotional, stressed, and concerned. In addition, your child may be facing significant penalties, some of which could potentially affect him or her for years to come.  Fortunately, an attorney experienced in juvenile delinquency cases can help you through every step of your child’s case and will work for the best outcome possible.

Common Juvenile Charges

Some of the most common criminal charges that juveniles may face include the following:

  • Shoplifting
  • Vandalism
  • Assault and battery
  • Joyriding
  • Underage drinking

These juvenile offenses come with potentially serious penalties, such as time in a juvenile detention center, fines, probation, and more. Furthermore, for certain crimes, Virginia prosecutors may charge your child as an adult. In such cases, your child could face time in state prison and have felony convictions on his or her permanent record. An experienced attorney can negotiate with prosecutors to reduce or even eliminate the possible consequences your child may face.

In addition to the punitive consequences of juvenile offenses, the juvenile courts will often examine your family situation to see if improper parenting contributed at all to your child’s alleged delinquency. Under some circumstances, parents lose their parental rights after their child is charged with a crime and the child must enter the foster system. A juvenile lawyer can not only handle the criminal side of your child’s case, but also any implications on your parenting rights.

Juvenile courts have different rules and procedures than regular courts of law, therefore you always want to make sure you have an attorney who knows how to navigate the juvenile legal system to get the best result possible for your child and your family.

Contact a Virginia juvenile lawyer for assistance today

If your child has been arrested or charged with any type of offense, your first step should be to contact a lawyer who has experience handling juvenile cases. Do not risk any negative effects on your child’s future by trying to handle a case yourself. Instead, call the Law Office of Raymond B. Benzinger at (703) 312-0410 or visit this website.

divorceFacing divorce can be extraordinarily stressful and emotionally trying. Not only is your life completely changing, but you may worry about losing your children, your home, your possessions, and more. Luckily, you do not have to go through the divorce process by yourself. Experienced Virginia divorce attorney Raymond B. Benzinger can walk you through every step of the divorce process to take the some of the stress off of you, so that you may focus on the things that are most important—your kids and your well-being.

There are other reasons why you should have an attorney, including the following:

  • Your spouse will likely hire an attorney. If your spouse has a lawyer to fight on his or her behalf, you should never try to negotiate on your own. Negotiating is often a specialty in the legal profession, and a lawyer is always working to get the best possible outcome for their client—your spouse—often at your expense. An attorney knows how to negotiate with other attorneys and will stand up for your rights and interests.
  • You may make mistakes. Every divorce court has its own procedures with different deadlines for different forms and filings. An attorney will be familiar with the rules and laws in your area, so you do not have to worry about making a costly error.
  • There are complicated and emotional issues in the divorce. People often do not think with a clear head when it comes to matters involving their children, home, or money. An attorney can give you an objective opinion and point out issues that you may not have recognized on your own.
  • To reduce stress. Divorce is stressful enough as it is, and having a lawyer handling your affairs will simply take some of the stress off of you.

Contact a Virginia divorce lawyer today

Though there are always situations in which couples handle their divorce on their own without complications, these instances are rare and most divorcing couples encounter roadblocks caused from inability to agree on certain terms or because they are not familiar with the law. For this reason, it is always a good idea to consult with an experienced and dedicated Virginia family law lawyer to discuss your case. Do not hesitate to contact the office of Raymond B. Benzinger at (703) 312-0410 for assistance today.

 

 

separationMany couples spend a certain period of time living separate from one another prior to filing for divorce and during the divorce process. In fact, if you are seeking a no-fault divorce in Virginia, the law requires that you live apart for at least one year before a divorce will be granted. This separation period may be lessened to six months if you have no minor children and have a Separation Agreement in place. Though you are still legally married during a period of separation, there are still many legal issues that may arise when a couple separates.

Unlike many states, Virginia does not have legal separation under the law. However, the law does allow separated couples to sign a contract known as a Separation Agreement. A Separation Agreement is a binding contract that can be enforced in court that may cover the following issues and more:

Most of the issues in a Separation Agreement are similar to the issues addressed in a divorce. These agreements are important because sometimes separated couples cannot agree and there are many matters that need to be addressed. Some specific matters some couples must agree on include who will pay certain bills, who has access to the family home, who will provide health insurance for children, who will pay for other expenses related to minor children, whether one spouse may leave town with the children, will the spouses be banned from cohabitating with another person in front of the children, and more.

If you and your spouse decide to get divorced, a Separation Agreement can be incorporated into a divorce agreement. If you decide to reconcile and live together again, the Separation Agreement will be voided unless you have specified otherwise.

Contact a Virginia family law attorney for help

If your spouse approaches you and wants you to sign a Separation Agreement, you should always consult with an experienced Virginia family law attorney before you sign anything. An attorney can help identify any unfair provisions and stand up for your best interests. Do not hesitate to call Raymond B. Benzinger at (703) 312-0410 today.

divorce in VirgniaWhile some couples are able to work together in divorce proceedings, divorce can turn some once loving spouses into bitter enemies. No matter how wonderful you once thought your spouse was, the unfortunate truth is that he or she may try to take advantage of you in the divorce process to get the better deal in the divorce settlement. If you believe divorce may be in your future, there are certain steps you can take to protect yourself and your interests.

Examine your finances–Take a close look at what you earn, what your spouse earns, and both of your earning potential for the future. Make sure the earnings match up with the amounts in the bank accounts to ensure your spouse is not hiding any assets from you. Learn all about the family debts and try to pay off as much as possible as soon as possible. Check your credit score and start saving money of your own.

Make a list of your possessions–Take inventory of any valuable or meaningful possessions, such as jewelry, furniture, collectibles, and more. Take photographs if possible, and pay attention to see if anything disappears.

Make copies of important documents–Gather important documents and make sure you have your own copy of anything, just in case your spouse tries to withhold any information. This should include financial statements, business statements if either of you are self-employed, insurance policies, wills, mortgage and automobile titles and documents, and more.

Contact a Virginia family law attorney today

Though admitting that you are likely getting divorced is difficult for many, it is best to prepare as much as possible so that your interests are best protected when the divorce is actually filed. Many spouses may attempt to deceive the other in order to emerge from the divorce with a better deal, but if you take some of the above steps, you will help your attorney be able to expose your spouse’s falsifications. If you believe divorce or even separation may be on the horizon for you, call experienced Virginia divorce lawyer Raymond B. Benzinger at (703) 312-0410 as soon as possible for help.


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