Virginia Family Law Blog

Plan ahead for college during a divorce

If you are one of the many parents of students who are in high school when you face an impending divorce, you might be very concerned about how you will pay for your kids to go to college. Many other Virginia parents have faced this dilemma as well. It can be hard enough to fund a college education when parents are married but affording this experience on a post-divorce budget can be extra difficult.

CNBC recommends that you make it a priority to have decisions about which spouse will be responsible for what portions of a college education put into your divorce settlement agreement. There are many ways that you could set this up. One spouse could provide an up-front payment of a one-time lump sum that is put away into a special account for the kids when they are ready to go to college. You could simply agree to split the costs evenly.

Your mortgage during a divorce

If you and your spouse are embarking on a divorce in Virginia, you will need to determine how to split your marital assets and debts. For most couples, their primary residence is their biggest asset but is also connected to their biggest liability in the form of a mortgage. You should be very careful in how you decide to assign ownership of your home and responsibility for this mortgage should you opt not to sell your home when you get divorced.

Your spouse might wish to keep your family home, even citing stability for your children as a main reason for doing so. This is an understandable desire but it is not without its potential downfalls for you if it is not executed properly. As explained by The Mortgage Reports, you must ensure that your name does not remain on any active mortgage in order to prevent any future financial connection to or liability for the home.

Is my health in danger if I get divorced?

If you and your spouse in Virginia have come to the decision that you are better off separate than together, you will have many things to focus on as you untangle your joint lives. While focused on the logistics of how to divide your assets and your debts, how you might share time with any children you have together and other things, it can be all too easy to not take care of yourself and your own health. 

In fact, some research has shown that divorced people might be at a greater risk of some health conditions. MarketWatch explains that a Johns Hopkins University study showed people who are no longer married have a 20% greater chance of developing conditions like diabetes, cancer or heart disease.

Was your lavish wedding the start of your marital stress?

Beautiful weddings don't just happen. They take planning, preparation and, in many cases, lots and lots of money. Those in wedding industries know how much a bride and groom may be willing to sacrifice for a dream wedding, and they continue to raise the bar. Before you know it, you have hired separate photographers and videographers for the wedding preparation, the ceremony and the reception. You have purchased numerous outfits for pre and post celebrations. You have bought party favors, engraved cake servers and gifts for the wedding party.

Like nearly half of all engaged couples, you likely went into debt to pay for your wedding, reception and honeymoon. In fact, you and your partner may have had disputes about the cost of the wedding. If you are considering divorce at this time, it is possible that you can trace the troubles in your marriage to the extravagance of your wedding.

When is spousal support awarded?

Commonly known as alimony, spousal support are monies paid to a former spouse at the end of a marriage. Not all divorces involve spousal support, as the judge will review a number of factors to determine whether you or your ex should make payments. LeagleBeagle.com explains a few of the reasons why a judge might not order spousal support at the end of a marriage. 

Spousal support allows a former spouse to maintain the same standard of living as was present during the marriage. This is why marriages that are short in duration don't often entail an alimony order. The logic goes that it's much easier for both spouses to return to their previous financial position after a shorter period of time has elapsed. This might not be the case with a marriage that lasted 20 plus years, especially if one spouse assumed the role of primary breadwinner during the relationship. 

Is gaslighting emotional abuse?

Gaslighting is a manipulative behavior that is akin to emotional abuse when it takes place within a marriage. It involves lying and other behaviors that call into question a spouse's sense of reality, which can be very disorienting. Identifying emotional abuse is difficult for many people, especially when they're in the midst of a troubled relationship. Psychology Today explains the effects of gaslighting and how you can identify it in your marriage. 

Marriages must be built on love and mutual respect. That's what makes gaslighting and other forms of emotional abuse so damaging. Many people find it hard to believe that the person they love and cherish could behave in an abusive manner, which is why it's so hard to pinpoint when abuse is happening to you. It can also damage your self-esteem over time. If your spouse constantly criticizes you or puts you down, you're likely to internalize these statements. 

How to tell if your spouse is hiding assets

Sometimes, a spouse will hide financial assets before or during a divorce. This is done in an attempt to avoid splitting the assets during the divorce proceedings or to minimize the amount of alimony or child support that he or she may owe. People sometimes hide assets by stashing cash, deferring salary, overpaying taxes, transferring assets to a trusted person or underreporting income. While this type of activity is dishonest and illegal, there are some ways the truth can be uncovered.

What if your ex-spouse wants to move with the kids?

It is perfectly natural for you and your ex-spouse to want to move on after your divorce. Yet if part of them moving on includes moving away from Alexandria, that could no doubt impact your relationship with your children. If they have sole custody and your only have visitation rights, them moving could potentially limit the already limited access you have to your kids. Even if you share custody, a relocation could place a hardship on you when it comes to custody exchanges. What rights, then, in mitigating the impact of your ex-spouse moving away with your kids?

First and foremost, you should know that they cannot simply move away and inform you after the fact. Per Section 20-124.5 of the Code of Virginia, they must provide both you and court with notice of their intentions at least 30 days prior to the proposed move. If they do not provide such notice, the court could find them in contempt and require them to cover the cost of any legal action required to get your kids back. 

Joint custody may benefit your children

It is often a challenge adjusting to new living arrangements in Virginia without your children. If you and your spouse have separated, you may find yourself in the midst of a custody battle, even if the split has otherwise been uneventful. At Russell W. Ray, PLLC, we often help clients negotiate custody and visitation agreements for the best possible outcome.

VeryWell Family states that in a joint custody arrangement parents share custody of their children, as opposed to one parent who has sole custody. As you prepare for the proceedings, carefully consider your needs as well as that of your children. In joint legal custody, you and your ex can each make decisions regarding schools, doctors and other important decisions. This typically requires communication with each other regularly.

You can't cut your house in half, so what do you do with it?

Your home was the center of your family life during your marriage. Now that you and your spouse decided to divorce, you face the challenge of figuring out what happens to the marital home.

Dividing the house in the literal sense isn't possible, so you will need to come up with another solution. Each of the property division choices for a home requires careful consideration before moving forward.

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