Have you been wronged? Left to pick up the pieces? Call us. We help our clients put their lives back together.
Laura Blair Butler – Divorce and Family Law Attorney
“Wonderful law firm…Laura Butler is the best! Very realistic, yet understanding.”
“In every professional dealing I have had with Laura Butler, I have found her to be exceptionally knowledgeable and well-prepared. In addition, she has consistently been able to see my situation and her counsel has been to the point and helpful for me specifically. She has earned my trust in her judgment. I find her to be pragmatic and an effective communicator – able to grasp the situation and to communicate clearly the counsel, advice, and solutions that are best in each situation.”
“Laura is always prepared. I never saw her surprised either in or out of court. She treats all adversaries with respect, and then proceeds to dismantle them. When I saw how well she knew, and could quickly recall, the details of my case, in court, I was amazed. The other attorney had to refer to his notes to get the names and ages of the children, while Laura was able to give names, ages and the schools they attended without referring to anything. I could tell the respect the judge had for her.”
Contact us today for an Initial Consultation. It’s the first step to putting your life back together.
1. 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.
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.
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.
Virginia is an equitable distribution state. Generally, marital assets and liabilities are equally distributed. However, some factors to consider are:
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.
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.
We handle cases on a flat fee or hourly basis depending on the complexity of your case. We offer initial consultations at a reduced 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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Contact us today – We’re ready to help.
We have three offices conveniently located in Charlottesville, Palmyra (Across from Food Lion), and Harrisonburg, Virginia.
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