Articles Posted in Family Law

Under this category, you should have answers to most common Family Law related questions. However, every case is unique and any information on this website is intended for a general information only and does not create an attorney-client relationship.

Posted by Juan D. Bustamante

As with most legal matters relating to children in Virginia, the central question for the court will always be what is “in the best interest of the child?”

When preparing for a custody hearing, even the most well-intentioned petitioners may face some pushback from Virginia courts when faced against factors found in Virginia Code Section 20-124.3, which judges MUST carefully consider before awarding custody to any one parent or any other qualified individual with legitimate interests.

Posted by Kayla Brown

Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS) allows certain children who came to the United States from another country and cannot be reunified with one or both of their parents to obtain lawful permanent immigrant status. Juveniles seeking SIJS first begin in a local state court after abuse, abandonment, or neglect has occurred.

In Virginia, to qualify for SIJS five requirements must be met:

More often than not, divorcing spouses do not stand on equal financial footing, especially when one of them has been the principal income-earner of the family, while the other had focused mostly on raising the children, managing the household, and allowing the earning spouse the opportunity to do just that – earn.  Time and time again, clients have shared that they never expected to ever face a divorce.  Even when divorce is not a complete surprise, the spouse who was not the principal income earner is still unprepared to mount a vigorous case.  By the time life presents them with the unmistakable path of a divorce, these individuals find themselves lost, scrambling for resources, and trying to keep a steady head in a devastating emotional and financial storm. 


There are many tropes and bitter jokes around the American legal system, and especially its costs.  We’ve all heard the cynical question: “How much justice can you afford?” To a certain extent, of course, this stems from a basic truth: if you can afford to pay legal fees without significant constraint, you will usually be better prepared, and may overpower the other party in a lawsuit.  Resources are key in warfare – be it actual, or just in the courtroom.


But, in divorce cases, there is, thankfully, a legal device provided by the legislature, that can be a game-changer for less financially secure spouse.  It has a fancy Latin name, and it is a remarkable opportunity.  It is called pendente lite relief, and it is provided for in Virginia Code Ann. 20-103 (A). “Pendente lite” essentially means during the litigation.  What it means for the financially deprived spouse, is this: while the lawsuit is pending, that party is entitled to request support and other temporary relief from his or her spouse, in order to enable him or her to survive financially, as well as to be able to vigorously litigate the case.  

Posted by J. Garrett Kizer

A Pre-Marital agreement (also called a “prenuptial agreement” or “prenup”) is a useful tool to protect your assets when you’re planning on getting married. A prenup can include many features. Most prenups will define certain pieces of property that the couple owned before they were married as “separate property.” In the event of a divorce, a Court would usually defer to the prenup’s definition as an agreement between the couple, rather than litigating what property could be divided in the divorce. A prenup can also include provisions to stop either spouse from asking for spousal support or attorney’s fees in the event of a divorce.

However, while a prenup can be used in many different ways, it also has a lot of requirements to be enforceable. While statutes lay out a few of these requirements, many of the important things a court will consider come from case law. For instance, courts will want to make sure that each side had an opportunity to ask a lawyer about their prenup, that the prenup doesn’t create a “gross disparity” in how it divides future assets, and that both sides fully disclosed all their existing assets in the agreement.

Posted by Andrei J. Kublan

Since contested divorce cases can take approximately a year (and in certain cases even longer) to be fully adjudicated in court, each party to the litigation has a right to request certain temporary relief from the court while their case is pending in court.  As a party to a divorce litigation, you can request, among other things, the court to order your spouse to provide the following pendente lite (i.e., temporary) relief: (a) spousal support, (b) provision of health insurance coverage, (c) payment of certain marital debts, (d)  advancement of attorney’s fees to enable you to continue with litigation, (e) determination of child custody*, (f) child support, and (g) exclusive possession of the marital home.  See Va. Code Section 20-103.

In the Fairfax County Circuit Court, in order to obtain this temporary relief, you would need to file a motion (essentially a request) with the Court and schedule it to be head on a Friday at 11:30 a.m. during the Domestic Relations Docket.  Provided you properly accomplished the above two tasks, you will now need to prepare for the pendente lite hearing, which normally cannot exceed 30 minutes and must be in accordance with the following strict procedural requirements:

In my practice of domestic relations law, I have frequently encountered this question: “Will I be guilty of desertion if I leave my abusive spouse?”.  Both male and female clients have asked this question.

The answer, as with almost everything in the law, is “it depends.”  First, in Virginia, the grounds for divorce are provided in the statute.

Va. Code Ann. § 20-91A (6) states:

Posted by J. Garrett Kizer

If you’re worried about being arrested by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) because you’re living in the United States without immigration documents or if you overstayed a Visa, it’s reasonable to be careful—many people in this situation spend a lot of time looking over their shoulder.

If you have a civil court date you’re supposed to attend, you might also be very concerned that ICE will arrest you at or outside the courthouse. To be fair, the news has had plenty of stories of this happening, so you might be thinking about skipping your hearing altogether. Skipping your hearing, however, could have serious consequences for you personally and even make your immigration situation worse.

I am separated from my spouse for six months and I have no children, Can I get a divorce now?

In Virginia, if you are separated from your spouse for more than six months and you have no children then you can get a no-fault divorce only if you and your spouse have entered into a written Property Settlement Agreement. This means, if you and spouse have already worked on all the financial issues arising out of your marriage and ready to formalize that understanding into a written document then Contact Us and we will take it from there. Neither you nor your spouse will have to appear in court and we will work for you to obtain a divorce. For pricing of such uncontested divorce, please click here.

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