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What was once a dream has become something else.
A talented and caring attorney will guide you through the separation, minimizing the collateral damage to your ended relationship.
There are three ways to end a marriage: separation, divorce and annulment. In Virginia, to be eligible for divorce you must live “separate and apart” from your spouse for six months (with no children) or one year. Although it is possible to be “separate and apart” under the same roof, Virginia is not too progressive and has a high bar to meet. Generally, separate means being physically separate and maintaining separate households. To qualify, one of the parties must consider that the separation is permanent.

Separation agreements help prove the intent (that there’s no possibility of reconciliation) and will likely dramatically reduce the cost of your divorce. Having a separation agreement changes a contested divorce to an uncontested divorce. Once you have settled the issues regarding the dissolution of your relationship, the Court enters merely to canonize your choices.

Sometimes parties have too much animus toward one another. One or another, or both cannot successfully come to terms. The job of good counsel is to intercede, to facilitate an agreement, to negotiate a way forward when the parties have lost their desire or interest in coming to a resolution.

Your best advocate puts your goals first. Call us today at (703) 539-5345 for a consultation.

In many cases the “why” of the relationship’s dissolution might be very valuable to your future interests. Was your spouse cruel? Did your spouse desert or abuse you? Did they cheat? Were they convicted of a felony?

If adultery can be proven, divorce can be granted without waiting six months to a year. Otherwise, you are still required to be separate and apart from your soon-to-be ex for one year if you have shared children or six months without. Virginia judges can take into account the faults proven leading to the divorce. A fault-based divorce may cause a judge to allocate property differently or withhold spousal support.

Proving fault requires evidence. Adultery has the highest standard of proof required in civil procedures, clear and convincing. This cause and standard of proof requires proving some direct attention toward another person, plus the opportunity for the adultery (some private place where they were present for a period of time long enough that they could consummate their relationship). This evidence, to be credible, usually requires the witness testimony of a disinterested third-party.

Abandonment and cruelty is proven by evidence of a preponderance standard. Cruelty can be one extreme event or a combination of multiple smaller events. The standard for evidence can be met with a corroborating witness, another person who can verify for the court the incidents. Often this is a friend, caregiver or family member.

Your advocate needs to know how to investigate and litigate. Call us today at (703) 539-5345 for a consultation.

Sometimes Fault Must Be Found
Who’s the bad guy? That answer might be extremely expensive or very valuable.
Support is complicated
Don’t pay too much, don’t accept too little, don’t prematurely accept the default formula.
In the period between your filing for divorce and the date your order is entered, the lower wage earning spouse may be awarded support from the higher earning spouse. This relief is sought through a pendente lite (pending litigation) motion. While the Virginia Legislation has prescribed an amount to be awarded within Va. Code §16.1-278.17:1. This section of the Code has a couple of interesting carve-outs.


  • The formula is only presumed where the combined monthly incomes are less than $10,000
  • The court can depart from the formula where it finds good cause


Although the law only provides that there is a presumption that the formula be used subject to the $10,000 limit, the court frequently applies the formula to incomes in excess, and also frequently departs from the guidelines altogether.

The presumptive formula (for combined incomes under $10,000) is split into two categories, no shared children where the calculation is 27% of the larger income producer minus 50% of the other spouse, or with children where the percentages change to 26% and 58%, respectably. Use the form below to see what support would be awarded under this formula:

Good cause is in the eye of the beholder, your attorney should advocate for a departure from the guidance that is in your best interest. Call us today at (703) 539-5345 for a consultation.

Support for your children is an important consideration. There is a complicated formula to determine how much support should be paid by whom. Child support calculations in Virginia are controlled by statute. See §20-108.2 Virginia starts by combining the two incomes of the parents, this gross income is used to locate the support to be paid for the children. Almost all income you receive can be used to calculate your liability. There are a few important exceptions: reasonable business expenses, government program payments (welfare, food stamps, SSI), child support payments from other parents, and second incomes used to payoff arrearages (owed child support obligations).

There are a lot of inputs to the full calculation of child support, and most of these inputs can be altered for “good cause.” Generally parents, in addition to child support, should expect to pay a portion of their children’s medical and dental costs. The definition of medical costs is wide and includes, but is not limited to, counselors, eyeglasses, medication, braces. The typical method for these expenses to be presented is by the paying parent to present the other with a copy of the paid receipt and that parent is required to pay their portion within a short timeframe.

The cost of insurance and child care is added to the amount of support needed for the children. If the state determines that your child requires support in the amount of $790 per month, but the custodial parent pays $300 in insurance and $1,200 in childcare expenses, the actual support cost is $2,290. When considering who will have the children on their employer’s benefits, consider not only the quality of the benefits, but the cost to insure. What if your spouse is paying too much for childcare? You can challenge the costs and have a reasonable amount replace the amount being spent. The court can also consider the tax benefits being received by the parent.

Sole custody is VERY different from joint custody, but only when each parent has the children for more than 90 days in a year (that’s 25% of the time). The support received (or paid) can drastically change, depending on how often the other parent is in custody of their children. For instance… Jane makes $4,000 per month, John makes $2,500 per month, if John has custody of his children every other weekend he will pay $327 per month to Jane; however, if that custody started on Thursday and ended on Monday, that amount drops to $118. A little bit of time can make a huge difference.

The form below is a simple calculation of child support, it doesn’t account for insurance or child care, but it will allow you to get a rough estimate of the support that would be awarded. Our team will help you understand your options and will walk you through the complete numbers. Call us today at (703) 539-5345 for a consultation.

Supporting Your Children is Your #1 Priority
Custody impacts support. Understand how and how much.
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