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Separation & Divorce

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.

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