What about Fido? Protective Orders and Pet Custody in Virginia.

As family law lawyers in Leesburg, Virginia, we are often asked questions about pet custody in Virginia.  We are also often in the position of seeking protective orders on behalf of our clients and defending our clients against malicious protective orders.  Some new changes in the law have created an area where protective orders and pet custody in Virginia merge. As we have stated previously regarding protective orders, they are a vital tool in protecting victims of violence and abuse or potential victims from threatened violence or abuse. Sometimes, however, protective orders are used as a negotiating tactic at the beginning stages of a divorce proceeding. Whether it is an emergency protective order, preliminary protective order, or permanent protective order, the issuance of one can dramatically affect one’s life. A party need only present testimony to a magistrate of an alleged incident in order to obtain an Emergency Protective Order.  This is an ex parte proceeding, which means that the accused does not have the right to appear.  These Emergency Protective Orders usually last up to 72 hours.  They are followed by a Preliminary Protective order, which is also an ex parte Order which lasts for about 2 weeks. At the end of that period, there will be a hearing (with all parties having the right to be present) for a Permanent Protective Order, which lasts for up to two years.  The Petitioner (the person requesting the protective order) may be granted certain relief through any Protective Order pursuant to Va. Code Ann. §16.1-253.1, such as: Right to exclusive use and possession of the home to the exclusion of the other party; Right to...

Co-Parenting Successfully through the Holiday Season: 4 Tips to Consider

Fall has arrived and so too has the holiday season.  This is generally a time for families to come together; to be joyful and thankful and to celebrate with kindness and love.  But for many divorced families, the holidays can be a stressful and challenging time.  “I love Halloween, but I can’t stand sharing it with my ex-husband” and “I don’t like that my kids hate going to their father’s for Thanksgiving, but what can I do, this is his year” and “Great, so now I am supposed to put a smile on my face for the kids with my ex-wife’s new boyfriend at Christmas” are just a few of the comments stated by some my divorced patients already this year. And while I fully appreciate the difficult struggles many divorced couples deal with, I encourage my divorced patients who remain in high conflict co-parenting relationships to remember that their children’s adjustment and emotional wellbeing should be what is most important – and not just during holidays, but across the entire year. I offer the following tips for co-parenting successfully to divorced couples this holiday season: Know your bandwidth:  If you are currently in a high conflict relationship with your ex-husband or ex-wife, your capacity to get along over the holidays will be more limited than if you are in a respectful and loving relationship with your ex.  While some divorced couples are able to trick-or-treat together with their children or trade off mid night on Halloween, other divorced couples do not have enough respect and agreement to do so.  Holidays for this latter group are typically best managed separately...

Can I go to Jail for Not Paying Alimony / Spousal Support?

Spousal support, also called alimony or support and maintenance, is court ordered payment to a spouse or ex-spouse. You may get spousal support if you are still married and separated.  Since spousal support is court ordered, the question is, “Can I go to jail for not paying spousal support?”  The simple answer to that question is: “Yes.” If a court orders you to pay spousal support, then failure to pay is disobeying a court order, and the court can find you in “contempt of court” for disobeying its order.  Remedies for failure to pay support include wage liens, levies upon personal property, garnishment of property, garnishment of wages, and even incarceration.  See Va. Code Ann. § 20-115.  Pursuant to Va. Code Ann. § 20-115, if the court finds you in contempt, it can order you incarcerated for up to one year and order that you perform work during the year you are incarcerated. In Virginia, the Court can order one spouse to pay support to the other in a lump sum, in periodic installments for a fix period of time, or in periodic installments for an indefinite period of time, also called “permanent support.”  See Va. Code Ann. § 20-107.1(C).  When the Court orders support without agreement of the parties, evidence of certain events can terminate the support obligation.  One such event is when the spouse receiving support lives with another person in a marriage-like relationship for one year or more according.  See Va. Code Ann. § 20-109. Once spousal support has been set by decision of the court, it cannot be changed unless there has been a material...