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Northern Virginia Law Blog

Old records and calendars can help in divorce negotiations

When people in Virginia decide to divorce, they may face a range of emotional, practical and financial effects and considerations. While dealing with property division can have long-term financial repercussions, many parents find reaching a solution to child custody questions one of the most emotionally draining parts of the divorce. Most family court judges will encourage divorcing parents to reach a negotiated resolution with the help of their lawyers as they transition to a co-parenting relationship. One of the most important parts of a child custody agreement is the parenting plan and custody schedule.

During a divorce, some parents may feel overwhelmed with all of the issues they must navigate. It can be all too easy to forget about things in a child's schedule. However, those activities may be very important to the child and can easily lead to later child custody disputes when both partners repeatedly ask for changes to the schedule to accommodate activities. Old calendars can be important when preparing to negotiate child custody as they can help to ensure that sports, extracurricular activities and clubs are part of the official parenting plan.

After end-of-year celebrations, increase in divorces

Virginia couples who are considering divorce in the new year might be surprised to learn that divorce filings increase during the first half of January each year. It is a trend that has already been studied because it seems to be happening consistently even as divorce rates in general have dropped by 8% between 2007 and 2017.

There might be several reasons why divorce filings increase at the beginning of the year. One of them might be parents' desire to provide their children with happy holiday memories. This is the same reason parents might put off filing for divorce for even several years, as they are reluctant to take away their children's holiday memories. On the flip side of this, the stress of spending additional time with family during the holidays might become the breaking point for some couples, who might file for divorce early in the new year to avoid another holiday similar to the one they just ended.

Dealing with the financial consequences of divorce

People in Virginia who are going through a divorce may want to consider working with a financial planner or a certified divorce financial analyst along with an attorney. These financial professionals may help in determining what a person's assets are and how to budget for the divorce and its aftermath.

The first step should be listing all assets and gathering documentation on them. Tax returns, bank statements, property deeds and statements from retirement accounts may be among them. It will also be necessary to make a new budget. This could include paying or receiving child support and alimony. Housing costs may change since a person might be moving into a new home. A person who is insured through a spouse may need to seek new health insurance. The budget should also include legal costs. This is a good time for careful spending because of the additional costs associated with the change. Furthermore, people who are expecting child or spousal support cannot always be entirely sure of when that support will start arriving.

How women can face financial challenges after divorce

Women who have gone through a divorce in Virginia know that dealing with financial challenges can be overwhelming. While men can experience financial difficulties after a divorce, women are more likely to experience a decrease in income and live below the poverty line.

As a woman contemplates divorce, it would be beneficial for her to take a hard look at her financial situation. She should gather important financial documents like bank statements, property titles and tax returns. It would be beneficial to save an emergency fund, even if it is just a few dollars at a time. The money that she puts away for herself will need to be disclosed during the divorce proceedings, but it may be enough to help her start the divorce process and cover other expenses. It may also be beneficial for her to open a P.O. box to receive confidential mail.

Maintaining composure when dealing with a toxic co-parent

Virginia residents who have to co-parent with a difficult ex-spouse face significant challenges. A toxic ex-spouse may cause unnecessary problems via accusations, drama, bad-mouthing, and manipulation. It can be frustrating for the non-toxic ex-spouse because their primary desire is to parent their children in an acceptable way.

Good parents understand that the key to successfully co-parenting children is to keep the best interests of the children in mind. At the same time, a good parent understands the importance of maintaining their own personal integrity and sanity. Keeping these concepts at the core of all decisions can help someone navigate the choppy waters of co-parenting with a toxic ex-spouse.

A parenting agreement makes post-divorce life much easier

As you move through the divorce process, you'll have constant worries about the impact of your split on your relationship with your children. It's impossible to know what the future will bring, but there are steps you can take to ease your stress.

A parenting agreement makes post-divorce life easier on you, your ex and your children. With this in place, there's no gray area in regard to child custody and visitation. Everything is laid out in a manner that's simple for you and your ex to follow.

Some couples are saving money by getting a divorce

Many happily married Virginia couples would feel uncomfortable asking their spouse for a divorce in order to save some money. However, there are some who are considering a divorce on paper in order to save money, especially high-earning couples who want to avoid the so-called "marriage penalty." This applies to couples who file their taxes jointly and have taxable income in the 37% tax bracket.

In addition to saving money on taxes, there are other reasons why couples are considering strategic divorce in order to benefit financially. One reason has to do with a sick partner being able to get access to health coverage or nursing home care through Medicaid. Another financial benefit that could come from a couple divorcing is helping their children who are about to go to college receive more federal aid. With this situation, if one partner is the custodial parent and is considered to be in the lower income bracket, they are likely to walk away with more money in federal aid as opposed to a married couple where both partners are high earners.

Determining a home's value in a divorce

Estranged Virginia spouses who are seeking a divorce may be interested in retaining their marital homes. In some cases, this is done by buying out the other spouse. There are many different factors that need to be considered when determining how much a buyout could be worth. For instance, it is important to figure out how much equity is in the home. Equity is the value of the home after subtracting the balance owed on a mortgage.

Generally speaking, each spouse is entitled to half of the equity in the home. However, it may not be necessary to actually write a check to whoever is giving up their stake in the property. Instead, the person who is keeping the home could offer other valuable assets such as cash or a stock portfolio in exchange for equity in the home.

Marital problems that lead to divorce

While there is no way to look at a marriage and accurately predict whether or not the union will last, relationship experts, divorce attorneys and psychologists have combined their knowledge to make a list of potential bad habits that a couple may not be able to overcome. Virginia residents might like to know about traits often found in relationships that do not last.

If a married couple never has disagreements, this may not be a good sign. Avoiding an argument does not solve anything or make a problem go away. Ideally, sharing grievances gives both parties a chance to express themselves and feel more comfortable communicating. Moving forward as a couple can be challenging without working on problems.

What to do if you’re pulled over by a police officer

You're driving down the road in Washington, D.C., when you see police lights in your mirror. You hope the officer is going after someone else, but you're concerned that you may be the target.

If you see flashing police lights, turn on your hazard lights and safely pull to the side of the road. Even if the officer doesn't pull you over, it's the safe thing to do.

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