Arlington, Divorce Lawyer
Divorce Lawyer 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 for 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:
Many states are percentage-of-income states. 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.
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.
One parent typically receives both physical and legal custody, which means the right to determine residence and the right to make important legal decisions.
A judge often enters orders prohibiting the dissipation (waste) of assets and removal of 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.
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.
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.
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.
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. Going through a divorce is often a highly emotional time and that is why a divorce lawyer in Arlington VA can come in handy.
The biggest question that people ask is if they even need a divorce lawyer. That answer can vary from couple to couple, but the most common answer is often both sides benefit from having one. And if you do want one how do you know what a good lawyer is? When looking for a lawyer you have to do some homework. You can’t just find the first one and settle. You have to do research to make sure that you aren’t going to get the short end of the stick on things.
How a Divorce Lawyer Helps with Child Custody
When you reach out to a divorce lawyer in Arlington, Virginia, you’re taking an important step to secure your independence and freedom from a relationship that was toxic for both you and your spouse. But what happens to your kids?
In every divorce, there are two major issues that cause the most problems. You could be having the most streamlined and straightforward divorce proceedings, but once someone brings up children and money, any good manners go right out the window. And for good reason: You and your spouse both want to secure the best future possible for your children.
But in a divorce, there is always a winner and a loser unless both you and your spouse can get on the same page. Fortunately, a divorce lawyer can help you figure out what child custody arrangement works best for you, and the divorce specialists at May Law, LLP can shed light on how you can still see your children despite a divorce.
If you and your spouse can agree to set your differences aside, it’s possible to come to an agreement for joint custody. When you arrange joint custody, it means both you and your spouse share an equal amount of time with your children, while contributing an equal amount of time, money, and effort to ensure the best future possible.
Joint custody takes a lot of work. You and your spouse need to satisfy a number of requirements before you can come to an agreement, and the court will want to make sure that you both had an equal hand in raising your children before the divorce. You’ll have to prove that you both live in close enough proximity to each other to make joint custody work, and you’ll have to prove that you’re both willing to cooperate.
Handling Child Custody Disputes
Going through a child custody battle can be one of the most stressful things you can go through as a parent. When you and your ex want what’s best for your child, If you are not able to get along with them effectively, it can also diminish your chances of getting your desired custody arrangement. As an experienced family lawyer can explain to you, a judge will assess not just whether you have the financial means to care for your child, but your ability to co-parent effectively in a manner that serves your child’s best interest. Review these tips to improve your chances of obtaining custodial rights of your child.
Be Familiar With Your Child’s Needs and Interests
Wanting a stable and solid relationship with your child is one thing, but understanding who they are on a personal level is another. Being knowledgeable about your child’s schedule, interests and needs conveys to a judge that you are an active parent and want to connect with them in many areas of their life. It shows that you are attentive and go out of your way to be informed about the small details that matter.
Keep Records of Communication
Co-parenting is difficult enough, but when you must learn how to co-parent with an ex you do not get along with, it only makes it more stressful. However, you can’t avoid communication with your ex no matter how much you dislike each other. If your ex is not cooperative, make sure to keep all records of your conversation with them. This includes emails and screenshots of text messages. If you are the one making the effort and trying to meet them halfway when it comes to co-parenting, you have the evidence to show for it.
Maintain a Suitable Home Environment
A key part of the criteria for custody is a clean and organized living environment. You have a higher chance of being awarded custodial rights if your home is tidy and well-maintained. Create a space or reserve a spare room for your child to stay in when it’s your turn to spend time with them.
Strive to Cooperate With Your Ex
Conflicts and disagreements with your ex are inevitable, but it’s how you handle them that shows the type of parent you are trying to be. When you can prove that you are making an active effort to cooperate and compromise with them, you are showing that you won’t be distracted by trivial things. Despite disagreements, you understand that your child is better off when their parents can be civil with one another.
Strengthening Your Case
To better your chances of being awarded joint custody, you need to take actions that display you care about your child and are fit to share custodial rights with your ex. The court will take into account your behavior and decisions when they are evaluating a custody arrangement. Keep in mind the following things if you want to preserve your chances of being awarded custody.
Arlington Divorce Law FAQs
How does Child Custody Work?
Child custody arrangements are meant to secure the best future possible for a child or children of divorced parents. In most divorces, one parent has custody while the other parent has visitation rights. Depending on how your divorce proceedings go, you may end up with either.
If you are awarded custody of your children, you have to provide shelter, food, clothing, and everything else that your children will need as they grow up. This means you’ll be responsible for taking them to school, to the doctor’s, and to any extracurricular activities that they may attend. It’s a lot of work, but it means you get to see your children for the majority of the time.
On the other hand, if you are awarded visitation rights, it means you don’t see your children unless it’s on weekends or according to a court-arranged visitation schedule. You’ll miss out on watching your children grow up, and you’ll most likely have to pay child support payments until your children are 18 or have graduated high school. Fortunately, with the help of a divorce lawyer in Arlington, VA, you can work with your spouse for a more fair arrangement.
How Are Assets Divided in a Virginia Divorce?
A divorce lawyer Arlington VA clients trust understands that divorce can hit any couple. Unfortunately, the more assets the couple has, the more complex the divorce process can be. There is often a more prolonged discovery period, as well as ensuring that assets are properly identified, given the amounts potentially at stake.
What Is Equitable Distribution?
The primary issue in high-value divorces is that because so much is at stake, each party is more likely to go on the defensive and fight for what they see as their rightful share. However, it is not the parties, but the court that decides what is an appropriate distribution. Virginia is an equitable distribution state, meaning that property is not divided 50/50 as it would be in a community property state. Rather, experts help evaluate each asset so that each party may receive as much as is equitable.
What If My Spouse Is Hiding Assets?
In order to make a truly equitable distribution, the first thing most attorneys and financial experts recommend is to assess the true size of the marital estate – if one or both parties attempt to hide assets, for example, a clear picture cannot be obtained.
Virginia law permits that the court use experts such as financial advisors, or each side may also employ their own, in order to ensure that all relevant information about marital property is shared between sides. Several issues are investigated, such as asset hiding, but also the question of unauthorized transfer of property and any existing premarital agreements.
What Is the Difference Between Marital vs. Non-Marital Property?
Once the issue of malfeasance is addressed, the other half of the asset distribution puzzle is to work out which assets qualify as marital property and which do not. An Arlington divorce lawyer knows that this can be quite difficult, especially when property is used jointly or was paid for with marital funds. Some of the factors that differentiate non-marital property from marital property. These include:
- Gifts to one spouse
- Any property excluded via premarital or prenuptial agreement
- Any property acquired by one spouse with nonmarital assets used as payment
- Other property acquired either without using marital funds or when the spouses were unmarried
While this may seem clear-cut, it can be complex, especially if marital funds were used to purchase an item that one spouse later alleges is nonmarital property. It is not uncommon for assets to be commingled, and if this does occur, the asset will likely be held to be transmuted into marital property and its value absorbed by the estate.
How Do I Protect My Share of Assets?
When it comes to dividing the marital estate, even the friendliest of divorces can quickly become contentious. This is why you should have a skilled and aggressive Arlington divorce lawyer advocating for you and protecting your best interests. Call May Law, LLP today to schedule a free consultation and find out what legal options you may have when it comes to ending your marriage and ensuring you receive your fair share of the marital estate in your divorce settlement.
Contact an Arlington, VA Divorce Lawyer from May Law, LLP
Finding the right divorce lawyer in Arlington VA doesn’t have to be tough. Contact the team at May Law LLC for more information about what we can do for you today. If you have questions about the divorce process generally or being served with divorce papers specifically. 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.
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. “