If you are one of the more than 1.3 million active duty 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 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.
19 Jun 2014
Historically, 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.
18 Jun 2014
When 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:
- Demanding the inspection physical assets
- Compelling the production of documents
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.
Facing 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.
Many 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:
- Child custody and visitation
- Temporary spousal support or child support
- Division of property
- Division of debt
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.
While 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.
14 May 2014
Everyone has seen movies and television shows that depict a couple fighting out the terms of their divorce in a courtroom. Though much of what is on TV may be overly-dramatized for entertainment value, in truth, many divorce trials can be highly acrimonious, emotionally-charged, and unpleasant. Trials, by nature, pit one spouse against the other and generally have a winner and a loser on each issue. For this reason, trial should not always be your goal for divorce and other family law matters. In fact, many people work to settle divorce cases outside of the courtroom.
Even negotiations outside of a courtroom can get contentious and ugly. Such negotiations often result in one spouse and their attorney arguing with the other spouse and their attorney. Just because such negotiations may take place outside of a courtroom does not necessarily make the process any more pleasant.
Fortunately, there are other options for couples who are looking to complete their divorce in a non-contentious manner with their dignity intact. Mediation provides spouses with the opportunity to discuss the various terms of their divorce in a civilized manner to try to avoid ever reaching contested proceedings.
Instead of having two parties each with their own divorce lawyer, mediation involves the two parties discussing their divorce with a neutral party. The neutral mediator is not on either spouse’s side and does not represent either of them in legal proceedings. The mediator instead raises issues and facilitates discussion to try to settle divorce matters in a cooperative and respectful fashion. Mediation can cover topics such as child custody and visitation, child or spousal support, division of property, and much more. If two people can come to an agreement in the mediation process, they can have their agreement approved by the court and avoid any contested litigation. Additionally, mediation is not binding, so it is always worth a try to see if an agreement can be reached.
Contact an Experienced Family Law Attorney in Virginia
Experienced Virginia family law attorney Raymond B. Benzinger provides mediation and other alternative dispute resolutions to try to help you reach a solution without going to court. If you are facing divorce, contact our office today at (703) 312-0410 for help.
13 May 2014
Buying a house is an exciting step in the lives of many married couples. However, owning a family home can present numerous complications if a couple decides to file for divorce. Many questions may arise regarding who gets to live in the house, how they will pay for it, whether the house will be sold, and more.
One reason why one spouse may want to keep the family home rather than put it on the market is for minor children. First, children may be emotionally attached to the home. Additionally, you likely want to the divorce to have as little of a negative effect on children as possible. Therefore, you probably do not want to uproot them, move them out of their neighborhood, or even cause them to switch schools. If you are going to have primary custody of the children, you likely want to keep them in their home.
However, keeping the house is not always the best option, even if you have children. Your mortgage was likely approved based on the income of both you and your spouse, and you probably both contributed to the monthly payments. Even if you are set to receive child or spousal support, you may have trouble paying the mortgage payments on your own. As you probably know, owning a home is expensive and includes covering the mortgage, utilities, property taxes, homeowner’s insurance, and the cost of repairs. You do not want to put yourself in a position in which you cannot make your monthly payments and still save adequate money for your child’s educational expenses or for your retirement. If you are not certain you can afford the house, it may be better to sell and downsize.
You and your spouse should attempt to agree on the fate of the family home. If you cannot agree, the issue will have to go to court and a judge will make the decision for you. Judges can award possession of the home to either spouse or may order you to sell it.
Contact a Virginia family law attorney for help
It is always wise to have an attorney to help you figure out the many issues that may arise in a divorce, such as what will happen to your house. Call Virginia divorce lawyer Raymond B. Benzinger today for assistance at (703) 312-0410.
14 Mar 2014
Though a divorce in Virginia can be an extremely difficult and stressful situation for any married couple, the process can be especially hard on families with children. No matter how amicable the divorce may be, having parents split up is a major change in a child’s life. Moreover, if the divorce is adversarial, it can be devastating for children to witness parents fighting over them. Courts understand how vulnerable children may be during a divorce and how susceptible they may be to emotional harm. Therefore, courts often focus on achieving results that will be in the best interest of any children involved.
Custody and Visitation
Many determinations in a divorce will directly affect the couple’s children, including custody, visitation, and child support. In deciding custody, Virginia law dictates that courts must not automatically give preference to one parent over another. For example, the mother is not given an advantage simply because of a motherly bond or because she will remain in the family home. If both parents are deemed to be fit, the court will encourage continuing and frequent contact with both of them equally. Furthermore, parents are expected to encourage a relationship between the child and the other parent and abide by all custody and visitation agreements.
On the other hand, if evidence shows the relationship with one parent may be toxic or harmful, the court will take that evidence into consideration when deciding custody and visitation. The court may order sole custody to one parent and mandate that visitation with the other parent be supervised until it is considered safe and healthy for the child.
Child support is another very important determination in any divorce with children. The court wants to make sure both parents are responsible in supporting their children. The state of Virginia has a specific child support worksheet used to calculate the amount of support owed by one parent to another. Support may be ordered for any child under the age of 18, any high school student up to age 19, or any child who has a disability that renders them unable to live independently away from a parent.
If you are facing a divorce with children, you rightfully have many questions and concerns. You should not hesitate to call the Law Offices of Raymond B. Benzinger at (703) 312-0410 to schedule a consultation with an experienced divorce attorney today.
The terms of a divorce decree usually reflects what is best and fair for the parties based on their circumstances at the time of the divorce. However, as we all know too well, circumstances can unexpectedly change over the course of time. Therefore, what worked for one or both parties at the time of the divorce may no longer be feasible or practicable after years have passed.
For example, imagine a family that has a husband with a full-time job, a wife with a part-time job, and two children. At the time of the divorce, the court may award joint custody of the children, and order the husband to pay monthly child support and alimony to the wife. A few years pass and the wife lands a high-powered job in a city four hours away. Meanwhile, the husband has been suffering from medical problems and can now only work part-time. The husband can no longer afford to pay the originally ordered support payments and, furthermore, the wife no longer requires additional financial help. Also, regularly traveling four hours each way to continue the joint custody arrangement is likely no longer in anyone’s best interest. Often, after some time has passed, the court will find that the circumstances of one or both of the parties in the divorce have changed substantially enough to warrant a modification to the original divorce agreement.
In many other situations, though a divorce agreement will contain numerous provisions regarding property division, custody, support, and more, a party may ignore one or more of those provisions. In such cases, the court may be petitioned to enforce the original terms of the agreement. For example, if the wife in the above hypothetical scenario did not allow the husband to see their children, she would be violating the court-ordered custody arrangement and the husband could ask the court to enforce it.
Obtaining such a modification or enforcement does require a return to court, which may seem daunting for many people. However, an experienced family law attorney at the Law Offices of Raymond B. Benzinger can help make this process easier for you and achieve a positive result for you. Call us today for assistance at (703) 312-0410.