Learn from the past, set vivid, detailed goals for the future, and live in the only moment of time over which you have any control: now.

- Denis Waitley

Family Law and Estate Planning Blog

An Overview of Family Law

Typically, family law attorneys assist people in making and breaking family relationships. Specific areas of representation include marriage and relationship planning, divorce, paternity, child custody and child support. Some family law attorneys also provide assistance in the area of adoption.

Marriage is a legal and business union as much as it is a romantic one. Because marriage is a legal and business arrangement, it may be wise to consult with an attorney at Lisa Lane McDevitt Law Office, PLC about the advantages of premarital, and prenuptial, and postnuptial agreements.

Divorce, while painful, is a method of terminating a marriage contract, and finally resolving all
property, support and custody issues related to your marriage.

In Virginia you have the option to prove fault, commonly referred to as grounds, to obtain a divorce. However, you may also file what is known as a no-fault divorce in which the spouses are not required to prove that the other caused the breakdown of the marriage. If no-fault grounds for divorce is your desire then, either you or your spouse may obtain a divorce, even if one of you does not consent to the divorce.

In most divorces, the primary issues to be decided are alimony or spousal support, property division and, if there are minor children of the marriage, child custody, visitation and child support. When spouses agree on how to resolve these issues, they can usually obtain a divorce quickly. However, in many cases, divorcing spouses have disputes regarding their post-marriage financial arrangements and the care and custody of their children. Most issues involving the marriage are often hotly contested issues in divorce proceedings, but the early advice of a family law attorney may be able to impact the ultimate result favorably or at the very least provide a road map to navigate the rocky terrain.

Child Custody and Visitation
The care and upbringing of children following divorce is often an ongoing source of conflict for divorcing parents. Custody must address both physical custody and legal custody. Physical custody typically involves allocating parental rights and responsibilities regarding the day-to-day care and activities of the children. Legal custody is the legal right to make important decision regarding the welfare of the child, such as education, medical and religious decisions.

Sometimes the parents agree to an arrangement; sometimes the court determines one for them. In the past, courts routinely gave mothers physical custody and gave fathers visitation rights. Today, the courts have begun to realize that sometimes it is in the best interests of the children to reside with the father and reverse the roles of the parents. In general, the courts favor joint ongoing child rearing responsibilities with the children residing where it is most practical and where they will flourish. My advice and assistance can help parents establish child custody and visitation agreements that focus on the best interests of the children conducent to your desires to be with your children.

Child Support
Parents must financially support their children. That obligation lasts until the child reaches the age of nineteen (19) or graduates high school, whichever first occurs, or becomes self-supporting. An order for child support may be entered during or after a divorce, and either parent may be ordered to pay support depending upon how custody is arranged. In Virginia, an unmarried parent may also file a petition for child support in the Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court, and an order for support will be entered once paternity has been established.

A parent who fails to remain current on his or her child support obligations faces significant penalties. Virginia has a child support enforcement office, known as Department of Child Support Enforcement (also known as “DCSE”) that works with the seeker of support to suspend professional or business licenses, take away driver and recreational licenses, require payment of future owed sums in advance or place non-paying parents in jail when child support obligations are overdue. Because of the state specific requirements involved in child support, parents can benefit from the advice and involvement of a family law lawyer at McDevitt Law Office, PLC, when child support issues arise.

Family relations create a host of legal consequences. A family law attorney at Lisa Lane McDevitt in Vienna, Virginia, can explain the laws that apply to your particular situation and help you to make informed choices for you and your family.