WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT FUNDING EXPENSES DURING A SEPARATION

Separation and divorce can be described by a lot of different adjectives, but “cheap” is not one of them. In a separation, a family goes from living in one household to all of a sudden, living in two households, with two mortgages or rents to pay, two sets of utility bills and a host of other doubled or more complex set of shared expenses.  A party may also find themselves having to pay spousal or child support on top of household expenses. How can this dynamic be sustained financially until a final divorce and settlement is reached?

A good starting point for someone going through a separation is to know what available funds you can draw from and when.  This blog will shed a bit more light on that:

When possible, expenses should be paid out of current income as opposed to savings or other types of accounts.  When that is not possible, utilizing funds from a savings account, selling off securities and investments and even taking a premature withdrawal from your retirement accounts are less ideal but viable backup options.

If there has been no court order entered yet, you may draw down on bank accounts and investment accounts provided it is for a legitimate marital purpose.  Legitimate marital expenses include rent, mortgage, utilities, childcare, groceries or personal grooming items and/or attorney’s fees.  Conversely, during a separation, one should not utilize proceeds from bank and investment accounts for purely discretionary spending such as on vacations, luxury merchandise purchases, tattoos, cars or boats.  This type of spending may be considered what is legally called “waste” or “dissipation,” which means one spouse has used marital property for his or her own benefit and a purpose unrelated to the marriage at a time when the marriage is undergoing an irreconcilable breakdown. That definition means waste and dissipation can occur before or after the separation, and the party making such expenditures would have to account for lost assets in the final property distribution of a divorce. In these cases, it does not matter whether an account is separately titled or joint – only that the account contained “marital funds.”

Retirement accounts should be the account that is tapped into for marital expenses only as a last resort for many reasons.  With the exception of single annual withdrawals that are replaced within 60 days, there is the automatic premature withdrawal penalty of 10% plus tax penalties depending on your bracket for taking funds out of an Individual Retirement Account (IRA) or 401K prior to age 59.5.  As an example, someone in the 33% tax bracket who withdraws $49,500 from a retirement account prior to age 59.5 can expect to net just $31,000 from the withdrawal.  Unless absolutely necessary to stay afloat, withdrawing from your retirement account is financially imprudent.

Another important point to know if you are considering or in the midst of a separation is that once a divorce action has been filed, a court may enter what is known as a pendente lite Order. This defines the temporary obligations of the parties when it comes to spousal support, child support and payment of household expenses.  The Virginia law on these temporary Orders was amended in 2016 to provide that unless a party can show good cause, all obligations must be paid out of post-separation income.  The restriction now severely limits a spouse’s ability to use assets to provide for support and household expense needs during a separation.

The decision to utilize marital assets to pay for household expenses must be made with careful consideration, with current income being the ideal source for obligatory spending.   Discretionary spending from what would be considered marital assets or accounts should be done with caution, and with the knowledge of how that lost money will be handled in an eventual divorce. Seeking the input of a financial advisor, accountant or attorney is highly recommended before taking any significant action that has an effect on the marital estate.

Learn more about separations in Virginia here. For more information on what to know during a separation or divorce, contact one of our highly knowledgeable and skilled attorneys at Curran Moher Weis.


5 Signs Your Spouse Might Be Cheating

5 Signs Your Spouse Might Be Cheating

By: Jason Weis, Esq.

I have seen dozens and dozens of adultery cases. I’ve been involved in so many of these cases, in fact, that I was recently asked to teach a class to other lawyers about how adultery is handled in Virginia, Maryland and D.C. divorces.  As the expert panelist at the D.C. Bar Family Law Community’s “Discovering and Dealing with Adultery” seminar, I shared my experiences litigating adultery cases all over the D.C. Metropolitan Area.

“How do I know if my spouse is cheating?” is perhaps the most common question I receive after disclosing that I’m a divorce lawyer. While I always caveat that there could be legitimate alternative explanations for certain behaviors, here are the top 5 signs your spouse be cheating:

  1. Increased time spent away from home – your spouse needs time to commit adultery. Therefore, if your spouse had a regular practice of coming home from work between 5:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m., but recently has begun regularly coming home much later (without a clear reason), it’s suspicious. Similarly, if your spouse begins spending nights away from the home for nebulous work or social reasons, there may be an issue.
  2. Increased attention to physical appearance and wardrobe – your spouse needs to attract a new romantic partner. Therefore, if your partner is not someone who previously focused on his/her physical appearance or wardrobe, but suddenly starts exercising more often, changing their eating habits and/or buying new or different clothes, it could be a sign they are trying to attract the interests of someone else.
  3. Increased interest in digital privacy – your spouse needs to communicate with his/her new romantic partner. Therefore, if you previously had open access to your partner’s various electronic devices, but he or she has suddenly protected those devices with new passwords, fingerprint ID, or other security measures that render it impossible for you access those devices, perhaps it was done to conceal something from you.
  4. Decreased sexual activity at home – your spouse is less likely to have sex with you if he/she is having sex with someone else. Therefore, while changes in the frequency of sexual activity is normal in any marriage, if you find your partner is unusually disinterested in sex or being intimate with you, with no alternative explanation, it could be a sign he or she is involved physically with someone else.
  5. Unusual spending habits – your spouse may spend money on or with his or her new romantic partner. Therefore, if you notice an unusual increase in spending by your spouse, such as frequent or higher than normal cash withdrawals or having higher than normal credit card bills – without explanation – it could be a sign they are spending that money on someone else or to otherwise fund an affair.

To be clear, there could be other equally plausible explanations for all of the above-referenced behaviors. Your spouse may be working late to earn extra money to purchase a gift for you and may be concealing her phone to preserve the element of surprise!  Your spouse might also be working out more and dressing nicer because it makes him feel more confident and he likes the way you look at him when he cleans up.

There are many strategies to working through adultery matters, but when a resolution cannot be reached, my fellow attorneys at Curran Moher Weis are here to make the difficult decision to divorce more bearable and support you through every step.  If you find yourself considering divorce, request a consultation with one of our talented Northern Virginia-based attorneys here and you’ll quickly come to see the difference a quality divorce lawyer can make in your matter.


CMW’s Jason Weis to Serve as Expert Panelist on Adultery Webinar

On Thursday, April 19, Curran Moher Weis’ partner Jason Weis, Esq., will serve as a panelist on the webinar, “Discovering and Dealing with Adultery,” hosted by the D.C. Bar Family Law Community.

The webinar will address the emotional and legal implications couples face when infidelity is discovered. Mr. Weis will serve as the family law expert panelist – sharing his legal knowledge and expertise on adultery in Virginia, Maryland and D.C., and helping to educate fellow attorneys, counselors and investigators about how the different jurisdictions currently handle adultery in divorce and family law cases. Other panelists include a private investigator and mental health professional. The webinar will be broadcast live from 6-7:45 p.m. EDT.

Click here for more information on joining the webinar. Read more about Mr. Weis’ expertise in adultery and other family law matters here, or request a consultation with him. Keep up with the latest news from Curran Moher Weis through our blog, or follow us on Twitter.


Curran Moher Weis Sponsors Heroes vs. Villains Run for Justice for 6th Consecutive Year

Curran Moher Weis is dedicated to the Northern Virginia community in many ways – from the core of our business in supporting clients through the challenges of divorce and important family law matters, but also by giving back to communities we serve. For the sixth year in a row, Curran Moher Weis will sponsor the Annual Heroes vs. Villains Run for Justice 5K.

The event, which this year will be held Sunday, April 15, supports pro bono programs that provide legal services to Fairfax County residents who could not otherwise afford them, as well as legal education programs and interactive activities, such as mock trial experiences, for local students. Curran Moher Weis has proudly served as a major sponsor of this event every year since our founding in 2012, including serving as the headline “Superhero” level sponsor. See more about last year’s event, including input from our esteemed founder and managing partner Grant Moher, Esq., in this Fairfax Times article.

We encourage you to come join the event as a runner or as a volunteer to help ensure a safe, fun experience for the adults and children in attendance. Learn more about volunteer needs here and/or sign up as a volunteer through this form.

What: Fairfax Law Foundation Heroes vs. Villains Run for Justice 5K

When: Sunday, April 15, 2018 (Kids’ Fun Run: 8:30 a.m. | 5K: 9 a.m.)

Where: Fairfax Corner (4100 Monument Corner Drive | Fairfax, VA 22030) | See the Course Map

As always, the Curran Moher Weis team will be in full force with firm members, friends, and family members volunteering and running. We hope to see you there!


Curran Moher Weis Welcomes Steven Goldman as Partner

We are proud to announce Steven Goldman, Esq. as partner at Curran Moher Weis, P.C. Steve joined our firm in 2014 and has since become one of our star attorneys and a leader both within the firm and among the legal profession as a whole.

Outside of serving as a supportive and steadfast advocate for his clients, Steve is actively involved in several organizations to support the local community and enhance and advance the family law profession. Currently, he serves as Membership Chair of the Collaborative Professionals of Northern Virginia, and a volunteer with the Fairfax County Bar Association.

Our senior partner Gerald Curran, Esq. weighed in on this exciting announcement: “Steve is by far one of the best domestic relations attorneys in the Northern Virginia area. He has quickly and effectively established himself as a successful and strident advocate for our clients, and as a leader within our firm and among the legal profession at-large. We couldn’t be more pleased to associate with him as our partner, to recognize his accomplishments and to know that he will, for years to come, continue to make significant contributions not only to our firm but to the legal community as well.”

Check out news of Steve being named partner at Curran Moher Weis in the Washington Business Journal and the Washington Post, and see the official press release here.

Follow the latest news from Curran Moher Weis through our blog, and by following us on Twitter.

 


How a Collaborative Divorce Can Save You Thousands

Over the past number of years, the family law landscape in Virginia has changed quite a bit. Before the 1990’s, there was only one true option for a couple seeking a divorce – go to court and have a judge decide the outcome. This method has obvious drawbacks: preparing for court and sitting through a trial is incredibly stressful, especially when your children are the subject of the proceedings; the process is long and arduous, often taking about one year from the date someone first files for divorce; the costs can be exorbitant. While to some this may be worthwhile and even necessary, most divorcing couples hope for exactly the opposite.



Effects of the House’s “Tax Cut and Jobs Act” on my Divorce and Divorce Agreement

On November 16, 2017, the House passed its “Tax Cut and Jobs Act,” setting the stage for the biggest tax reform legislation in decades. For more details on the bill, feel free to peruse the analysis performed by your news-provider-of-choice. While passage by the House does not guarantee anything as of yet (the Senate is still working on their own tax reform bill), tax reform certainly appears likely by the end of the year.


When is Sole Custody Justifiable in Virginia?

Potential clients often ask about the likelihood that they will be awarded sole custody of their child. This prediction, however, is not so easily forecast. In Virginia, there is both legal and physical custody, and there can be both sole legal and/or sole physical custody awarded or agreed to in any case. Legal custody refers to a parent’s ability to make major decisions regarding a child. So, sole legal custody is the situation where only one parent is responsible for making all decisions regarding a child. Physical custody refers to daily care of a child. When a parent is awarded sole physical custody of a child, he or she is the parent responsible to care for that child. Nevertheless, in all situations involving custody, the courts weigh a number of factors in determining what is in the best interests of the child.


Understanding the Virginia Child Support Calculator

Courts are often asked to determine the appropriate amount of child support payable between divorcing parents. Virginia Code Section 20-108.2 sets forth the “guidelines” used to calculate child support. The amount of support calculated with the guidelines is presumed to be the correct amount of child support, so it is important to have a thorough understanding of how these guidelines work.


Top Challenges You’ll Face When Filing for Custody in Virginia

Child custody invokes strong emotions and intense personal interest from all parties involved.  Matters involving the best interests of one’s child or children can have serious consequences.  Money is fungible and can come and go — your children are your children.