You probably never imagined yourself getting a divorce, or worse, having to contact a divorce attorney. At the Charlottesville law firm Tucker Griffin Barnes P.C., Laura Blair Butler, our lead family law attorney provides aggressive legal representation.
She works hard for her clients, and understands the emotional and financial issues surrounding a divorce can be tough, even on the strongest individual. She offers a variety of legal options to help reduce the stress as well as legal fees.
For years, Tucker Griffin Barnes has supported and recommended mediation to help families solve disputes without hiring an attorney. But when mediation is not an option, and legal prowess and experience are required, Ms. Butler can help. When you hire Tucker Griffin Barnes, you have an extremely formidable advocate on your side at the negotiating table and in court. Laura Blair Butler is experienced and a leader in her profession:
What is a Separation Agreement?
Unlike many other states, Virginia does not have legal separations granted by the courts. However, a husband and wife in Virginia may enter into a separation agreement. By use of such a document, a couple may agree to live separate and apart, and to divide their property and debts in a mutually acceptable way. Where the parties have minor children, they may also provide for child support and child custody and visitation in their separation agreement.
Separation agreements usually provide that any divorce of the parties will be on the no-fault ground of separation of the parties. With such an agreement in place, once the parties have separated and lived apart for the appropriate time (six months with no minor children, twelve months with minor children), either party may then file for an uncontested divorce on the no-fault ground of separation. As usual, every situation is unique. It is highly recommend that each party have an experienced attorney review their separation agreement before either party signs.
What is an uncontested or no-fault divorce?
In Virginia, a person may file for an uncontested, no-fault divorce if they have lived separate and apart with in the intent to obtain a divorce for over one year. If the parties have entered into a separation agreement and have no children, then they can obtain the divorce after only six months of separation. Even in uncontested divorces, it is very important to hire an attorney because there may be large assets at stake, such as houses, retirements, military retirements, savings, 401Ks, and more that may need to be divided. The Judge can divide all assets, even if both spouse’s names are not on the asset in a process called equitable distribution.
What is a contested divorce?
In Virginia, a contested divorce is one in which the parties do not agree on the terms of the divorce. Usually when there is a contested divorce the parties are in disagreement over child custody, spousal support or property distribution. During the course of the contested divorce, the parties will attend a pendente lite hearing. This is usually the first hearing where the Judge sets custody, support, who gets to live in the house, and who has to pay the bills. After the pendente lite hearing, the parties typically go through a discovery process where the attorneys learn about the other side’s assets and position. The contested divorce usually ends with an equitable distribution hearing where the Judge determines how to divide the property, custody and support on a permanent basis.
What is equitable distribution?
In Virginia, the Court does not have to divide marital property equally. The Court may divide the property in whatever percentage it deems to be fair and equitable.
How are assets and liabilities distributed in a divorce?
Virginia is an equitable distribution state. Generally, marital assets and liabilities are equally distributed. However, some factors to consider are:
How do I discover hidden assets?
The emotional stress accompanying divorce often overshadows the vital importance of creating a sustainable financial situation that will affect you long after the emotional scars have healed. Although it may not be pleasant, getting a handle on your money and finances is the most important step to protecting yourself in a divorce. The first step is to identify all assets and debts that should be included in the marital estate. Unfortunately, once a divorce is initiated, some spouses will do whatever they can to hide what they feel is their own money. Some spouses maintain hidden bank accounts or other secret financial activities throughout an entire marriage. If these actions are not discovered, one spouse is certain to obtain an unfair settlement.
Knowing your assets and debts may help you avoid being a victim of an unfair settlement by a lying or dishonest spouse.
Do I need an attorney for a family law proceeding?
Although it is possible to represent yourself in family court, it is not advisable in the vast majority of cases. Should you choose to represent yourself, the court cannot assist you with your case. You are held to the same requirements as the other party’s attorney. If you mishandle your case due to lack of knowledge or skill, an attorney may have difficulty reversing your mistakes.
What is your fee structure?
We handle cases on a flat fee or hourly basis depending on the complexity of your case. We offer initial consultations at our hourly rate. At the end of the consultation, we can determine the appropriate fee structure for your case, and you can evaluate our services and decide if you want to hire us. We accept all major credit cards to assist with payment.
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""Bill Tucker and his team were the answer to my real estate prayers! After being transferred to another state .."" - Short Sales
""Yvonne Griffin represented me in an accident case that required many months of hands on attention .."" - Personal Injury
""Ms. Barnes, I cannot thank you and your staff enough for taking my case at was a very dark time for me .."" - Social Security Disability
""Lynn Bradley has been a force that has proven to be competent, professional and exceled at her work .."" - Worker's Compensation
""Ms. Hakes, Thank you so much. You don't know what a wonderful gift you just gave to me, my son's .."" - Criminal Defense
""When you first interview Laura Butler, it is apparent you are in the presence of a true professional in all .."" - Family Law
""Mr. Tucker, I cannot thank you enough for all your work. I wish everyone had your work ethic and attention .."" - Real Estate