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Northern Virginia Family Law Blog

Prioritizing financial security in a divorce

When couples in Virginia get a divorce, they need to prioritize their financial security. In order to do this, it is important to make a budget that anticipates the next few months of expenses. Then, couples should take a look at shared property and how it might be divided.

It is important to understand the value of assets. Some retirement accounts are taxed on distribution, and this can mean that they are not worth as much as they initially appear to be. There may be costs associated with other assets as well, such as the home. One strategy that some couples use is for the spouse who is in the higher tax bracket to take the assets that have fewer tax obligations. However, it is important that both spouses understand these tax implications. Parents may want to look to the long term and how they will deal with expenses that are not covered by child support, such as a college education.

Tips for creating a prenup to protect a business

Virginia business owners who are planning on getting married might want to consider a prenuptial agreement. It can establish the value of the company going into the marriage as separate property. This helps ensure that the spouse who does not own the company is only entitled to a portion of whatever value the company gains after the marriage.

Since valuation can be a time-consuming process, the couple might want to agree on how to assess what the company is worth in the event of divorce. The prenup should also address the role of the non-owner spouse. For example, one who works for the company and is paid market rates might claim a smaller percentage of the company's value or none at all in a divorce compared to one who works at below-market rates.

Three financial temptations to watch out for during your divorce

Most people going through divorce expect that the process will be expensive. However, they do not always realize that divorce can also be a minefield for costly financial mistakes.

Financial mistakes should be avoided when possible because they can make your divorce and your new life after divorce much more difficult. Although every person may have his or her own financial temptations, there are three common mistakes to watch out for during your divorce.

What parents can do to help their children after a divorce

Following a divorce, Virginia parents may be concerned about the effect that the changes will have on their children. While divorce can be tough for children, parents can help them adjust. Their focus should be on the well-being of their children, and this often means supporting the child's relationship with the other parent. Children should also be kept informed about any changes in the parenting schedule and even have input into it if they are older.

Some children may worry that they are responsible for the divorce in some way or that there is something they can do to fix it. They should be reassured that this is not the case and that their parents love them. Children should be encouraged to express both positive and negative emotions, including love for the other parent and for stepparents. They should not feel torn between two parents. They may have questions about the divorce, so parents should attempt to answer them honestly without overstepping boundaries. Children do not need to hear details about infidelities or other situations that led to the divorce.

Supervised visitation can help to protect children

Parents in Virginia who separate or divorce may experience a wide range of options for child custody. While some families may choose joint custody or extensive visitation, this is not always a possibility. In some cases, there could be serious concerns about one parent's ability to care for the child. Such parents may have supervised visitation, which is when they can only see the child with the supervision of another person.

The supervisor for visitation could be a professional like a counselor or social worker. In other instances, it might be a family member. The actual visits generally occur at the parent's home, in a public place or a specialized visitation facility. Supervised visitation may be used in cases of reports of domestic violence or alcohol or substance dependency. Because the courts recognize that children benefit from relationships with both of their parents, supervised visitation offers a structured mechanism for troubled parents to remain in their children's lives.

Divorce and student loan debt

Virginia couples who get a divorce are likely to find the process to be emotionally taxing and stressful. One of the many aspects of divorce that can make it stressful is determining how assets and debts should be divided. For people who have student loan debt, or whose soon-to-be ex-spouse has student loan debt, it can be particularly trying.

Generally, all of the debt that is accumulated before a marriage is considered separate property. However, if the debt was acquired during the course of the marriage, dividing the debt becomes slightly more complex and is impacted by the state in which the divorce takes place.

The myth of “full custody”

As a parent who is going through divorce, one of your biggest concerns may be over the custody of your child. It can seem strange and upsetting to consider the possibility of not seeing your child every day. You may also bristle at the thought of agreeing to a child custody compromise. However, it is important to recognize that you will likely end up sharing some form of joint child custody with your ex-spouse.

Parents and children often benefit when parents work together to find a mutually agreeable child custody option. Usually, a compromise between parents involves some form of joint custody. When parents are unable to reach an agreement on their own, a judge will decide on the custody arrangement. However, even when a judge decides, you may likely end up with joint custody of your children.

Adjusting to co-parenting in the summer

Divorce can bring about big changes in how Virginia parents deal with one another. Adjusting to co-parenting is challenging at any time of year, but the summer can come with specific difficulties. During the school year, the routine provided by the academic schedule can help children to feel insulated from some of the changes that accompany divorce. Summertime is often much less scheduled, and summer plans may differ greatly between the parents' homes. However, positive co-parenting can help children and parents to adjust to summer co-parenting successfully.

It can be important for parents to communicate with each other about their plans for the summer, especially when working to co-parent together after divorce. The earlier that one parent can communicate with the other about upcoming vacations and other ideas for the child's summer, the more time that both households have to adjust. A shared online calendar or a posted visual calendar in both homes can be particularly important in making sure that plans are not forgotten or scheduled against one another.

What happens to Social Security benefits in divorce

Some people in Virginia may be unaware that even after a divorce, they may be able to claim Social Security benefits on an ex-spouse's income. A few elements must be in place for this to happen.

First, the marriage must have lasted 10 years or longer. Second, the person's benefit must be less than that of the spouse. The person must also be at least 62 years old and must remain unmarried.

Dealing with insurance changes after divorce

For people in Virginia who decide to divorce, the financial implications can be more complicated even than the emotional and practical aspects of the end of a marriage. One of the more unexpected issues that people may need to deal with include changes to the family's insurance coverage. There are a number of types of insurance that can be affected by a divorce, but health and life insurance are the most prominent. In many cases, one spouse is covered under the other's health insurance obtained at work.

After a divorce, the former spouse will be removed from that spouse's health insurance, leaving him or her in need of new insurance coverage. COBRA provides a three-year span to continue to carry a spouse's coverage, but better options may be available through the exchanges created under the Affordable Care Act or through the other spouse's employer. A divorce is a triggering life event that allows people to sign up for health insurance at any time of year. It is important to act quickly on this issue because unexpected consequences could ensue if the former spouse becomes ill shortly after the divorce while insurance is in transition.

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