Divorce Lawyer in Arlington, VA
An Arlington, VA divorce lawyer knows that when something truly challenging occurs in life, a fight or flight instinct may kick in, even if a physical threat has not triggered this primal response. Because the human body is conditioned to either fight or flee major stressors, it is a completely normal response to try to ignore significantly stressful challenges when they present themselves. However, ignoring these challenges is not always the healthiest course of action, even if doing so is a normal, primal response. For example, many adults are tempted to simply ignore divorce papers when their spouse files for divorce and arranges to have them served. Unfortunately, ignoring divorce papers can make an individual’s divorce scenario infinitely worse than it would be if these papers were attended to right away.
If you have been served with divorce papers and are tempted to simply ignore them, you are not alone. Many individuals are tempted in the same way. However, it will serve you better in the long-run to respond to these papers in a timely and informed manner. Please consider scheduling a consultation with an experienced Arlington, Virginia divorce lawyer with May Law, LLP at your earliest convenience in order to learn about your legal options and begin taking steps forward. Speaking with us does not obligate you to respond to your divorce papers in any specific way. Doing so will simply help to ensure that you have the support and guidance you need right now.
Consequences Associated with Ignoring Divorce Papers
Most of the time, the law only grants the spouse responding to divorce papers a certain amount of time to file his or her response. If no response is filed during that specific window of time, the court may enter a default judgment. Default judgments essentially assume that the spouse who is supposed to file a response simply agrees with the terms laid out in the original divorce petition. Practically speaking, this means that if you do not file a response within the time limit set by law, you and your Arlington, VA divorce lawyer will not get the opportunity to negotiate the terms of your own divorce settlement, no matter how imbalanced the terms set forth in the original petition may be. It is for this reason that it is so important to speak with an Arlington, VA divorce lawyer as soon as possible after you have been served with divorce papers.
Understanding Temporary Orders in a Divorce
If you are considering a divorce in Virginia, you probably have a lot of questions. Here are some examples the Arlington, VA divorce lawyers from May Law, LLP, often hear from some of our clients:
- “If I file divorce, what can prevent my wife from emptying our joint checking account?”
- “What will happen if my husband tries to change the children’s daycare?”
- “What if my husband takes the children on an overseas vacation?”
In these situations, a judge may enter orders that protect your family and your property in a matter of days, and maybe even a matter of hours.
Temporary orders take effect immediately and remain in effect until a judge changes them or until the case is finalized. The law states that the temporary arrangement “does not prejudice the rights of the parties.” But very often, as the old saying goes, possession is nine points of the law. A judge who has already made determinations about marital property and child custody may be hesitant to revisit those decisions and upset the status quo.
Either party may request temporary orders regarding property and/or parties. Some typical provisions include:
- Child Support: Many states are a percentage-of-income state. Therefore, a noncustodial parent’s child support payment is a percentage of his or her net income. The percentage typically starts at 20 percent for one child and goes up to 50 percent for six or more children. Your divorce lawyer in Arlington, VA will be able to explain what the child support laws are in your state.
- Spousal Support: A divorce or separation typically means a dramatic loss of income for one spouse. That loss comes at a time when there may be significant additional expenses, including attorneys’ fees, moving expenses, and daycare enrollment costs. Temporary spousal support may be available to cover all these expenses.
- Child Custody: One parent typically receives both physical and legal custody, which means the right to determine residence and the right to make important legal decisions.
- Restraining Order: A judge often enters orders prohibiting the dissipation (waste) of assets and removal of the children from beyond a court’s jurisdiction.
In some cases, particularly if there is a substantiated allegation of family violence, a judge may enter temporary orders without a hearing. A divorce lawyer in Arlington, VA can help you to understand what you might expect when you are trying to arrange temporary orders.
Changing the Orders
To either modify the temporary orders or incorporate different provisions into the final orders, most judges want to see compelling evidence that was not readily available earlier. In child custody matters, most judges will grant a request to appoint a guardian ad litem to investigate each parent’s fitness for custody and what would be in the best interest of the child. Judges also put a great deal of weight on the guardian’s recommendations. As for property division, the discovery process often uncovers assets and income streams that the other spouse has concealed.
Contact an Arlington, VA Divorce Lawyer from May Law, LLP
If you have decided to end your marriage, or your spouse has filed for divorce, you should have a seasoned Arlington divorce lawyer advocating for you. Call May Law, LLP today to schedule a free consultation with one of our Arlington divorce attorneys to find out how we can help. Our divorce attorneys have extensive experience in all aspects of Virginia family law, including child custody, child support, division of property, and more. Our legal team will use all available resources to get you the best possible outcome based on the circumstances of your case.
The Myth of the Uncontested Divorce
Do you and your spouse want a perfect separation, splitting all assets and custody completely equally? If so, you may be interested in an uncontested divorce. In uncontested divorces, you and your spouse will ideally reach orderly agreements on:
- Custody and parenting time
- Child and spousal support (alimony)
- Division of property, debt, and finances
If you and your partner believe you can make these decisions without needing an attorney, you can create your own divorce settlement agreement. While this will still need approval from a judge, it would cut out any lawyers and court dates. However, in most cases, this only works if the couple has been married for a short amount of time, has limited assets and has no minor children. As you might guess—these cases are not plentiful. For everyone else, it is highly recommended that you speak with a separate Arlington, Virginia divorce attorney before beginning any divorce proceedings. There are a few key reasons why.
1. You Probably Won’t Agree on Everything
Chances are, you’re divorcing your spouse because of irreparable disagreements. Even if you agree on the major divorce questions (custody, visitations, etc), things will probably arise during the settlement that you haven’t fully thought through. For example, who should pay child support if the non-custodial parent passes away? How often will child support and alimony be paid? Will the non-custodial parent be allowed to make important parenting decisions? What happens if one of the spouses remarries while the child is still a minor? Even if you and your spouse agree to split everything equally, there are complex laws that could arise regarding certain financial assets.
2. Attorneys Can Help With Paperwork and Documentation
Divorce requires countless legal documents, from the initial summons to the final settlement. While there are certainly free legal documents provided by the court, they can’t solve many of the issues that could arise without the help of a legal professional. A divorce case could be outrightly dismissed because of incorrect paperwork, causing you to spend more time and money in court. Your divorce lawyer Arlington, VA trusts will take care of all the paperwork and documentation, ensuring that every step in the divorce process is handled accurately and correctly.
3. Attorneys Have Your Best Interests in Mind
Divorce can truly bring out the worst in people and sometimes a spouse uses an “uncontested divorce” as malicious means to overtake financial assets. Hiring a divorce lawyer can protect you from any unfair agreements. Attorneys are paid to have your best interests at heart and will not let you settle for anything unconscionable or unfair. At the very least, hire a divorce lawyer to look over the final settlement before it’s set in stone.
If you or someone you know is considering an uncontested divorce, do some research regarding the divorce procedures and laws in your jurisdiction. Reach out to a divorce lawyer in Arlington, Virginia. At the very least, they can help you determine the best course of action in this difficult process.
Divorce Assistance Is Available
If you have questions about the divorce process generally or being served with divorce papers specifically, please do not hesitate to schedule a consultation with an Arlington, VA divorce lawyer today. Beginning the divorce process can be a stressful life transition. However, ignoring divorce papers is not the solution to the challenges you are currently facing. Please consider speaking with us about your unique circumstances so that we can advise you of your legal options and provide you with the necessary legal guidance and support. Scheduling a consultation does not commit you to take any action, so there is no need to hesitate. Working with an experienced Arlington, VA divorce lawyer from May Law, LLP now, instead of ignoring your divorce papers, may make a significant positive difference for your future; we look forward to speaking with you.
“Erick is a wonderful layer, and was able to answer all the questions I had. He was also able to tell me what to except on my court date. Erick made sure I understood all the options that were available to me. He helped get the best possible outcome for my case. I would strongly recommend Erick. ”