Common Family Law Issues

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Any legal issue relating to marriage, divorce, children, or families generally fits under the umbrella of “family law.” If you’re curious about what some common family law issues are, look no further than our best Fairfax family law attorney from Curran Moher Weis to assist with any questions you may have.

Understanding Family Law Issues

Family law focuses on issues relating to families, such as:

  1. Divorce – This is definitely a big part of the family law attorney’s job but not the entire job. Handling dissolutions of marriage, legal separations, and annulments is a part of family law.
  2. Marriage – Whether it’s a marital property dispute or a prenuptial agreement, Family law attorneys handle issues relating to the marital contract.
  3. Child Support – Along with divorce and marriage comes children, of course. Child support is the ongoing payments made by the parent the kids don’t live with to the parent they do live with.
  4. Alimony – Also known as “spousal maintenance,” alimony is a legally required payment made regularly for a set period of time from one spouse to the other for the purpose of financially supporting that person after divorce.
  5. Adoption – Whether it’s grandparents adopting a grandchild or strangers adopting a baby, family law attorneys handle all of the paperwork. Occasionally lawyers get involved in taking care of foster care placement legalities as well.
  6. Paternity – There is a legally established protocol for establishing the paternity of a child. Family law attorneys can with the paperwork and legal process to prove or disprove that a child is a man’s biological descendant.
  7. Emancipation – This is another legal process relating to children. When a minor is emancipated, the court has determined that the child may assume legal adult status under the law and is no longer under the care of their parents.
  8. Child Custody – Finally, family law attorneys help couples arrange for custody orders during the divorce.

Hiring a Family Law Attorney

If you’re experiencing one of these common family law issues, be sure to take your time interviewing a few family law attorneys before deciding what to hire. Here are some things to check:

  1. Do you share your cell phone number with your clients? What’s the best way to reach you (email, text, phone call)?
  2. Explain your fees. Will there be a retainer? What’s your hourly rate? Is a flat fee possible? May I see an example of what one of your itemized bills looks like? Are there any other fees I should be aware of? Are any of these fees negotiable?
  3. Will I be consulted before any decisions are made regarding my case?
  4. May I see a copy of your contract?
  5. How do you approach cases like mine? What’s your strategy?
  6. Can you introduce me to everyone who will be involved in working with me (paralegal, receptionist, law partner)?
  7. Will you personally handle my case from start to finish?

Contact a Fairfax Family Law Attorney Near You to Get Started

If you’re ready to move forward with your family law issue, don’t hesitate to contact our best Fairfax family law attorney from Curran Moher Weis today. Our team of family law pros has the experience, knowledge, and expertise to get your issue resolved in the most efficient manner possible as many families in Fairfax, and nearby.


Why You Need a Lawyer to Draft Your Premarital Agreement?

couple assisted by family law attorney with their prenuptial agreement, Call Curran Moher Weis family attorneys for help.

There can often be some considerable disagreement about the need for premarital agreements (also known as prenuptial agreements or prenups), but the bottom line remains that creating one will help foster healthy communications about each party’s finances and assets right from the beginning and can, in turn, help prevent a possible divorce in the end.

 

When you need help crafting a premarital agreement, seek the help of an experienced Fairfax family law attorney from Curran Moher Weis.

 

The content included in a premarital agreement can vary from case to case, but the most common provisions usually relate to asset division and grounds for spousal support. People need to understand that premarital agreements are not only for the rich and famous, as every single person will have something they believe is worth protecting, and a premarital agreement can offer guidance regarding what will happen with a specific property, inheritances, debt, and earnings.

Why You Want Legal Representation for a Premarital Agreement

Many couples may think they can create premarital agreements on their own without the help of a lawyer, but this can be a mistake because premarital agreements that are not legally vetted can very well be thrown out in court later for being potentially one-sided or otherwise unfair. You should always have an attorney review any proposed premarital agreement so you can be confident that your agreement will comply with all formalities under the law and be legally sound.

 

The two major benefits of hiring a lawyer will include:

 

1. Enforceability — The one thing you will most certainly want for your premarital agreement will be for it to be enforceable. Many people who do not understand enough about Virginia premarital laws and family courts that represent themselves miss important details that ultimately impact the enforceability of a premarital agreement. Each party will usually be required to provide full disclosure about their assets, income, and debts, and failure to do this not only risks the premarital agreement being unfair, but can also make it unenforceable. Simply having an attorney represent each party during the process of creating and signing a premarital agreement will increase the validity and enforceability of the agreement. When a judge sees that one or both spouses did not have legal assistance when drafting and signing the premarital agreement, they could ultimately view it as being unfair and not legally binding, leading to a refusal to enforce it.

 

2. Fairness and Thoroughness — A lawyer will help you understand exactly what you will be signing and how fair it will be to you. Without legal counsel, you risk forgetting or being unaware of specific issues that should be addressed in your premarital agreement, such as what will happen to a marital home, retirement, or business assets. A premarital agreement can help you divide assets and limit your liability should your marriage end in a divorce. While very few people enter a marriage with any intention of getting a divorce, the bottom line is that having a premarital agreement will also make the entire process of dissolving a marriage far easier.

Schedule a Free Consultation with the Best Fairfax Family Law Attorney Near You

Are you considering a premarital agreement in Virginia? Make sure you speak with our best Fairfax family law attorney from Curran Moher Weis to let our team help craft a complete and thorough premarital agreement you can be confident will pass the enforceability test in court. Our firm knows how stressful and confusing these types of discussions can be for couples planning on marrying, but we will be able to assist you in accomplishing your goals without driving you further apart. You can call (571) 931-2941 or contact us online to receive a free consultation so we can further discuss all of your legal options and help you exercise your rights as many couples and families in Fairfax and nearby.


Assets To Be Divided in a High-Net Divorce

Husband & wife dividing the house as asset in a high-net divorce helped by a divorce lawyer, Call Curran Moher Weis for help

The thought of dividing up a large body of assets in a divorce can be stressful. This article will give you an idea of what to expect and how to prepare. In short, all marital assets will be divided. After the court figures out the worth of everything you and your spouse accumulated, that body of assets and debts will be split based on the contributions of each spouse (financial contributions, time contributions, etc.).

If you have high assets, having help from a high-net-worth divorce lawyer from Curran Moher Weis is critical.

First Things First

Start gathering documentation. Knowing all of the assets in question is a good starting place. Track down the following legal papers:

  • Ownership papers for the property that belongs to you
  • Businesses you own whole or in part
  • Account statements for checking accounts, savings accounts, investment accounts, retirement accounts
  • The property you paid for personally
  • Bills showing amounts owed for the property you are financing (vehicles, boats, houses)

Virginia Is an “Equitable Division” State

“Equitable division” states split marital assets based on what is equitable, not what is “half and half” or equal. This means it’s important to prove what is yours and why you are entitled to mutual property that was used and purchased jointly. If you, for instance, paid the earnest money deposit on the primary residence but the home is in both of your names, the court will consider who the deposit came from. High net worth divorces in Virginia can be more challenging simply because there are more assets and more value to comb through. And what rubric will be used to decide what is “fair” under the law? That is open to interpretation.

 

A Few Things to Consider

Now is a good time to begin thinking about the following:

  • Can you pay down your debt with your personal cash reserves, so you are bringing less cash to the table to be divided? Confer with your high net worth divorce lawyer to ensure you handle this properly.
  • Can your joint retirement account be divided tax-free before you reach retirement age? There is something called a QDRO that must be created to legally have the account divided. Your divorce lawyer will know how to file the QDRO and take care of everything, so you don’t get penalized by the IRS.
  • Can you buy another house during the divorce if you’re the one who moved out? Be careful because your new home could be considered a marital asset as long as you are still legally married. Again, confer with your legal team first.
  • Can you claim “Head of Household” or use child tax credits on your income tax return? To avoid penalties, this is another point to negotiate during and after the divorce. Many couples with joint custody rotate claiming these tax exemptions year-to-year.

Need a Fairfax High-Net Divorce Lawyer Near Your Location?

Curran Moher Weis has the experience to help you navigate the property division battlefield in a high net worth divorce case. Contact us today to see how pain-free the process can be with the right Virginia divorce lawyer in your corner.


What Are Grounds for Divorce in Fairfax?

divorce attorney assisting clients about grounds for divorce, Curran Moher Weis divorce attorneys, can represent you, call now!

The vows to stick together and concerns over public perception might deter some people from pursuing a divorce. Divorce also involves separating from someone you loved, raising kids together, shared property, and aspirations.

 

Even so, divorce in Fairfax is sometimes the right break from a dysfunctional marriage. Moreover, you can become a better parent, reunite with friends, go out more often, and reclaim your happiness upon divorce.

 

A divorce attorney can represent your interest in court for intricate matters like child custody, division of assets and debts, and the overall divorce process, including what grounds you need to cite. Let’s explore the grounds of divorce in Fairfax.

 

Willful Desertion or Abandonment

 

Willful abandonment or desertion occurs when a spouse leaves the house or relationship without permission or communication. In addition, desertion can involve leaving the children behind, unpaid bills, expenses, and a spouse without financial help.

 

If one spouse leaves home because of the abusive habits of the other partner, then they have not committed abandonment. A judge can only count desertion as a valid reason for divorce if it’s not a willful separation or intent to remain apart for one year.

 

Separation

 

Virginia laws allow at-no-fault divorce where you and your partner have been separated and living apart for more than a year without cohabitation. Couples without children or minors and have entered a property settlement agreement can file for divorce within six months of separation.

 

Fairfax has a more relaxed divorce procedure. Unlike other states, couples don’t need to acquire the ‘legal separation status’— in no-fault cases. You only need to involve the court during divorce hearings meaning a couple can quickly move from separated—living apart— to being legally divorced.

 

Conviction of a Felony

 

A judge can authorize a divorce if either of the parties has been convicted of a felony. When one spouse is serving a prison term for more than a year, it makes cohabitation impossible— a valid reason for divorce.

 

Adultery, Sodomy, or Buggery

In Fairfax having voluntary sexual relations with someone besides your spouse is a sufficient ground for divorce. Even so, there must be clear evidence beyond doubt that adultery occurred to constitute a reason for divorce.

 

Another valid reason for divorce is committing an act of sodomy with someone who’s not your spouse. Lastly, buggery, an act against nature, is a reasonable ground for divorce.

 

The following grounds of defense are sufficient to deny divorce under adultery, sodomy, or buggery.

 

  1. Time-barred: The adultery must have occurred five years from the date of filing for divorce
  2. Justification: If the at-fault spouse proves the accusing party made the marriage intolerable.
  3. Procurement: The accusing party is proven to have set up the at-fault spouse to commit the act.
  4. Res-Judicata: The accusing party had filed for divorce on the same grounds in the past and failed.

Talk to The Best Fairfax Divorce Attorney Near You For a Smooth Process

 

Divorce is a painful experience that can destabilize your affairs. It’s therefore essential to work closely with an attorney for advice, representation, and securing your best interest. Curran Moher Weis is dedicated to providing the most comprehensive divorce representation. Contact us to request a meeting.


Custody Concerns for a New School Year

children at school, child custody lawyer modified their custody order, Curran Moher Weis Family attorneys can help, call now!

Each school year poses new challenges: coordinating bus schedules, after-school programs, and sports practices. Factor in two people with busy schedules who are sharing custody of their child, and it is enough to give you a headache.

Child custody is defined as “the care, control, and maintenance of a child.” The court has to decide custody arrangements based on the needs of your child. Even if both parties have come to a mutual agreement on sharing custody, the court may still determine other arrangements will better serve your child.

As the upcoming school year approaches, if you find yourself struggling to keep up with your child’s activities, don’t despair. If your current custody schedule is problematic, consult an experienced Fairfax child custody attorney to fully understand your parental rights.

What Factors Does the Court Use to Determine Child Custody?

In determining the best interests of the child, the court will make a determination based on the following factors, as set out in Virginia Code § 20-124.3:

  1. The age and physical and mental condition of the child;
  2. The age and physical and mental condition of each parent;
  3. The relationship existing between each parent and each child;
  4. The needs of the child, giving due consideration to other important relationships of the child;
  5. The role that each parent has played and will play in the future in the upbringing and care of the child;
  6. The propensity of each parent to actively support the child’s contact and relationship with the other parent;
  7. The relative willingness and demonstrated the ability of each parent to maintain a close and continuing relationship with the child;
  8. The reasonable preference of the child, if the court deems the child to be of reasonable intelligence, understanding, age, and experience to express such a preference;
  9. Any history of abuse that occurred no earlier than 10 years prior to the date a petition is filed;
  10. Such other factors the court deems necessary and proper to the determination.

In What Circumstances Will a Court Modify a Custody Order?

In Virginia, the Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court handles all child custody matters. The court will not consider a change in the custody order until at least six months have passed since the original custody order was issued.

While new custody matters are generally filed in the county/state where the child has resided for the past six months, in Fairfax County, you must call Domestic Relations if you are seeking to modify a court order. You are also required to bring the original order to your appointment.

If both parties cannot agree on a modified schedule, the court will refer both parties to mediation to resolve their differences before scheduling a hearing. The court will only schedule the hearing if a judge decides that there has been a “material change in circumstances.”

A material change in circumstances refers to a significant shift that affects the child’s health and well-being. For example, if a child’s soccer schedule and the location of practices have been changed, a court may deem that new arrangements need to be put in place.

There is no limit to how many times the court can modify an order. However, you should only request that the court modify custody arrangements if you feel that it will be in the best interest of your child.

Dedicated Fairfax Family Law Attorneys Near You

With so much conflicting advice, you need guidance on what modifications should be made to your custody order. The court system can be fickle, and you need the best child custody lawyer in Fairfax and nearby to handle the red tape. Discover why U.S. News and World Report have given us the distinction of “best lawyers, best law firms” for eight years running. Contact Curran Moher Weis today to schedule your consultation.


What if Your Custody Schedule is Not Working?

child custody schedule not working and a parent has to leave, Fairfax child custody attorney can help with modifications.

Shared custody schedules are based on your situation at the time the order is issued. As we all know, life can get hectic, schedules can change, and responsibilities can increase. If you have realized that your current custody schedule is simply not working for you and your child, you should discuss your options with the best child custody lawyer from Curran Moher Weis with years of experience serving Fairfax, nearby, and surrounding areas.

 

Is the Change Temporary?

If the change is temporary and you believe your circumstances will return to normal, you and the other parent might agree to make a temporary change. You want to put this in writing and speak with a lawyer about other requirements to protect yourself. If there is no evidence of your agreement, you can face accusations of failing to comply with the child custody order down the road.

 

If the change in circumstances is permanent, there are ways to modify your custody order. This requires court approval and the issuance of a modified order. This does not necessarily mean you will have to battle it out in court, however.

 

Seeking the Modification

Be open with the other parent about what is not working for you or your child. They might agree that change is needed for your child’s well-being. If you and the other parent agree to the long-term modification, your lawyer can draft your proposed modified arrangement. They can properly petition the court to incorporate the new schedule into your custody order. If the court finds the modification is warranted and in the best interests of the child, the judge can approve it and issue the modified order.

 

If you cannot agree and the other parent opposes the modification, you might have to go to court. First, we try to negotiate or mediate the matter to reach an out-of-court agreement when possible. However, if they still refuse to accept the changed schedule, we can petition the court for a modification. You will each present your case, and the judge will determine whether the circumstances warrant modification and whether it is in the best interests of the child.

 

Opposing a Modification

If your child’s other parent is the one who cannot adhere to the schedule and would like a change, discuss your options with a lawyer right away. A lawyer can help you find a middle ground when possible to agree to reasonable changes that work for everyone.

 

However, if the other parent is being unreasonable and requesting modifications that you strongly oppose, your lawyer can represent you in court to oppose the modification. You will need to show either that the changes are not substantial or permanent, or that the modification is otherwise not in your child’s best interests, and you want the right legal help.

Learn More From a Fairfax Child Custody Attorney Near You

At Curran Moher Weis, our best Fairfax child custody attorney represents parents in all types of custody matters in Northern, VA, and nearby. If you believe you need to change your custody order, never wait to contact us to learn how our custody lawyers can help.


What Justifies a Child Support Modification or Termination?

child support agreement form, a Family Law attorney from Curran Moher Weis can help.

Child support is based on a wide range of factors that apply at the time it is calculated – according to the State of Virginia’s child support guidelines. The fact is, however, that the circumstances that guided your original child support order can evolve over time, and a modification – or adjustment – may be in order. If you have questions or concerns about how child support stands in your case, don’t wait to reach out to an experienced Fairfax child support attorney near you.

Income Shares Model

Virginia uses what is called an income shares model in the calculation of child support that takes both parents’ incomes into consideration. This method is intended to balance each parent’s financial ability to support the children while helping to ensure that the children are as well supported financially as they would have been if the parents had remained together. The court recognizes that circumstances change and, as a result, allows child support modifications when certain factors change significantly.

The Initiation of a Child Support Modification

Child support modifications are initiated in one of the following three ways:

 

  1. Either parent (the parent who pays child support or the parent who receives child support) petitions the court for a modification
  2. The court itself motions for a modification
  3. A probation officer of the Department of Social Services petitions the court for a modification

 

The Primary Reasons for Child Support Modifications

The court does not modify child support orders lightly, but if one of the following factors applies, a child support modification may be taken into consideration:

 

  1. It has been at least 36 months since your original child support order (or since your last review for modification).
  2. Either parent’s income either increased or decreased by at least 25 percent
  3. The primary custodial parent’s work-related childcare costs either increased or decreased by at least 25 percent.
  4. Healthcare coverage costs for the children either increased or decreased by at least 25 percent – or the order needs to take healthcare coverage expenses into consideration.
  5. The current child support order failed to take the reimbursed medical/dental provision into consideration.
  6. A child needs to be added to the order (because of a change in physical custody or of birth) or is no longer eligible for support (because of a change in physical custody or emancipation).

 

With the passage of time, your financial situation and your children’s needs can change, and such change can instigate the need for a child support modification.

Turn to an Experienced Fairfax Child Support Attorney Near You

If you believe you need a child support modification – or your children’s other parent is seeking one – the dedicated child support attorneys at Curran Moher Weis in Fairfax, Virginia, and nearby are standing by to help. We have the experience, legal insight, and drive to help ensure that you and your children’s rights are well protected throughout the modification process. Your modification needs are important, so please don’t wait to reach out and contact or call us at 571-931-2941 for more information today.


What requirements should I know for a Virginia divorce?

divorce certificate after presenting the requirements with help of a divorce attorney

Whether you are considering a divorce, are preparing to file for divorce, or are facing divorce papers, it’s important to know the basic requirements for a Virginia divorce. Because the divorce process is complicated and because your parental and financial rights hang in the balance, working closely with an experienced Fairfax family law attorney is the surest path forward.

Filing for Divorce in Virginia

Virginia divorces are filed in circuit courts, and in order to file, either you or your spouse must have been a resident of the state for at least six months. The separation requirement depends upon whether or not you and your divorcing spouse share children, and it breaks down as follows:

 

  • If you and your divorcing spouse do not have minor children, you cannot file until after you’ve been separated for at least six months and have completed a written property settlement agreement.
  • If you and your divorcing spouse do not have minor children, you cannot file until after you’ve been separated for at least one year.

 

Service

The spouse who files for divorce must have the other served with the divorce papers, and there are three basic methods for doing so, including:

 

  • If your spouse lives in Virginia, he or she can be served through the Office of the Sheriff.
  • If your spouse does not live in Virginia, you’ll need to make arrangements to have him or her served.
  • If your spouse agrees to accept service of your divorce papers, you can mail the divorce documents to him or her directly – or he or she can accept service through the Circuit Court Civil Intake Division.

 

The Separation Requirement

The Separation requirement in Virginia is generally achieved when one spouse moves out of the marital home, but the state also recognizes couples who live separate and apart while remaining in the same home. The guidelines for accomplishing this level of separation, however, are specific.

 

There is also a requirement of intent, which means that at least one of you must have decided that your marriage is over and must have voiced this intention to the other. In order to establish that you have reached your separation time requirement, it’s advisable to establish one’s intention of divorcing – as of a specific date – in writing.

Fault-Based vs. No-Fault Divorce

Virginia offers both fault-based and no-fault divorces. The grounds for fault-based divorces in the state include:

 

  • Adultery
  • Confinement that lasts longer than one year
  • Felony conviction
  • Desertion
  • Cruelty

 

Virginia is one of the only states in the nation that requires third-party corroboration for fault-based divorces (and only recently dropped the requirement for no-fault divorces). The matter of fault must be proven in fault-based divorces, but when granted, it can affect how the divorce terms are resolved.

 

No-fault divorces are a more straightforward process in which neither spouse blames the other for the dissolution of the marriage.

Contact an Experienced Fairfax Family Law Attorney Near You

The best divorce attorneys at Curran Moher Weis in Fairfax, Virginia, focus their practice on skillfully protecting the parental and financial rights of clients like you – throughout the divorce process. Your case is important, so please don’t wait to contact or call us at (571) 328-5020 for more information today.


What To Know When Modifying Spousal Support

divorce attorney helping clients with a spousal support modification

Spousal support – or alimony – is less common in Virginia divorces than it once was, but it can play an important role for spouses who are left without the financial ability to support themselves upon divorce. The State of Virginia recognizes that life’s circumstances sometimes change and that modifications of divorce terms, including spousal support, are sometimes necessary.

If you’re in a situation in which you believe a spousal support modification is in order – or if your ex-spouse is seeking a modification – it’s time to consult with an experienced Fairfax divorce attorney.

Specifications

In the State of Virginia, there are specific guidelines for when a party can request a spousal support modification. If there is sufficient reason for doing so, either spouse can request that the amount of spousal support is increased or decreased, that the duration be extended or abbreviated, or that the support is ended altogether – unless the original order specifically states that it is not modifiable.

The Basis for Modifications

Virginia courts can terminate spousal support for any of the following primary reasons:

 

  1. The recipient remarries – in which case, he or she is required by law to inform the payor
  2. Either party dies (unless stipulated otherwise)
  3. The recipient cohabitates with someone else in a relationship that is analogous to marriage for a year or more (unless stipulated otherwise or deemed unconscionable, which is rare)

 

Reasons the court may increase or decrease the amount of spousal support – or alter its duration – include:

 

  1. Either party – or both parties – experienced a change in circumstances that was not anticipated at the time the support was determined.
  2. An event that the court expected to happen, which would have changed one or both parties’ circumstances, failed to occur.

 

When the Matter of Modification Is Addressed in the Terms

When the original divorce terms themselves stipulate that spousal support modifications can’t be made, the court lacks the jurisdiction to modify the matter. If the divorce decree, however, does not address the matter of spousal support modifications (or stipulates when modifications can be addressed), the court has the authority to make modifications in accordance with whatever parameters are set forth (if any).

The Court’s Stance

When the court addresses the matter of spousal support modifications, it generally explores each party’s overall financial situation – in terms of their current incomes and their reasonable monthly expenses. Spousal support is intended to strike a balance between each spouse’s income in relation to his or her reasonable expenses, and if either ex’s financial circumstances – or both exes’ financial circumstances – have changed significantly, the court may determine that a spousal support modification is in order.

An Experienced Fairfax Divorce Lawyer Can Help

If you need a spousal support modification – or your ex is seeking one – the best divorce attorneys from Curran Moher Weis in Fairfax, Virginia, have an abundance of experience successfully guiding challenging cases like yours toward favorable resolutions that support our client’s best interests. We’re here for you, so please don’t hesitate to contact us online or call us at (571) 328-5020 for more information today.


Curran Moher Weis Proudly Sponsors the 2022 Fairfax Law Foundation Heroes vs. Villains 5k

 

For the 8th consecutive year, Curran Moher Weis will sponsor the annual Heroes vs. Villains Run for Justice 5K, and for 2022 we are serving as the main Superhero-level sponsor of the event. And we are looking forward to getting back on the course after a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic!

This race is one of the most important fundraising events for the Fairfax Law Foundation which supports pro bono legal service programs for Fairfax County residents who could not otherwise afford representation. The Foundation’s program also provides legal education programs and interactive activities for area students.

Curran Moher Weis has sponsored the event every year since our inception in 2012, as part of our effort to give back to the Northern Virginia community we serve. Our exceptional attorneys and staff will be out in full force at the event – running, volunteering, and cheering on race participants.

Stop by the Curran Moher Weis table for even more fun, including games and activities to keep children – and adults – occupied before and after the race! And follow us on Twitter (twitter.com/curranmoherweis) or Instagram (instagram.com/curranmoherweis) for the latest news and photos leading up to and on race day.

More Information:
Fairfax Law Foundation Heroes vs. Villains Run for Justice 5K
Sunday, April 24, 2022 (Kids’ Fun Run: 8:30 a.m. | 5K: 9 a.m.)
Fairfax Corner (4100 Monument Corner Drive | Fairfax, VA 22030)