Love in a Time of Podcasts

Love in a time of Podcasts

By: Jason Weis, Esq.

Two incredibly popular podcasters recently weighed in on marriage and divorce with some thoughtful advice.  

First, Dennis Prager, provocative American talk show host and conservative commentator, recently published a “Fireside Chat” proposing the most important question couples should ask themselves prior to marriage is: “Do you actually enjoy each other’s company?”  He postulates that some unhappy marriages arise where couples love each other, but do not actually like each other.  “Ask yourself:  do you miss the person when you are not together?”  Whatever your political leanings or thoughts about Mr. Prager, there very well could be something to the old adage “marry your best friend.”  Love, while beautiful, can sometimes create feelings of obligation or even burden that, in turn, could create negative momentum over time.  Of course, not liking a person (or not loving a person) is not grounds for divorce in Virginia. 

In Virginia, the fault-based grounds of divorce remain: 

  1. Adultery, sodomy, buggery; 
  2. Felony conviction resulting in confinement for more than one year;
  3. Cruelty; and 
  4. Willful desertion.

 

Explorations of Virginia Fault-Based Grounds for Divorce and Virginia No-Fault-Based Grounds for Divorce can be found elsewhere on our site.

 

Second, Jordan B. Peterson , a controversial author, intellectual, and clinical psychologist, recently interviewed Warren Farrell, a best-selling author and notable advocate for both men’s and women’s rights.  In their near-three hour discussion, titled “The Four Dos and Don’ts of Divorce, Jordan offers his view that marriage is mostly about children, not adults:  if adults exercise their free choice to have children, marriage effectively binds those adults together to raise their children.  Warren then posits four “must do’s” if parents want children of divorce to do as well as children of “intact families.” 

He believes divorcing parents should: 

(1) Strive to ensure the children have an equal amount of time with each of them; 

(2) Live within about 20 minutes’ drive time of one another; 

(3) Not expose the children to any bad-mouthing or negative body language directed toward the other parent; and 

(4) Effectively manage the administrative aspects of child-rearing, possibly with the assistance of a third-party.  

Each item above roughly aligns with Virginia’s Best Interest of the Child Statute in one way or another, but, like most issues in divorce, there are always important exceptions.  Child custody and child visitation are delicate and often highly contested matters.  Explorations of Virginia Child Custody and Virginia Child Visitation can be found elsewhere in our blog.  After adultery, perhaps no other family law issue evokes a “burn the boats – do whatever it takes at whatever the cost” response from clients than contested parenting time and contested parenting behaviors.  Divorce can be a positive or negative for your children and selecting the right family law attorney may help each parent maintain a healthy relationship with his/her children following divorce.  


5 Signs Your Spouse Might Be Cheating

5 Signs Your Spouse Might Be Cheating

By: Jason Weis, Esq.

Top 5 Signs Your Spouse Might Be Cheating

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 You Know if Your Spouse is Cheating

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.


Can Personality Changes be Grounds for Divorce?

personality changes as grounds for divorce in virginia

Researchers may have hit upon one factor explaining many Northern Virginia divorces: Personality Evolution. The longest personality study ever conducted confirms that people change so dramatically as they grow older that they often bear almost no resemblance to their younger selves.


Will Adultery Impact My Security Clearance?

It sometimes seems that nearly every government employee or military officer working in Arlington, Alexandria, Fairfax, and/or Loudoun Counties has some form of top secret security clearance. As a result, I am often asked “will my divorce affect my employment” or, more commonly, “could committing adultery impact my security clearance?” The answer typically is: it depends on your security officer and what you have done. Here are some things to consider:


“What About My Engagement Ring?” Issues of Personal Property Division in Divorce

engagement rings and divorce

Virginia Engagement Ring Law - engagement rings and divorceEngagement rings are a good example of how personal property issues can sometimes become quite complicated in a divorce.

Virginia Engagement Ring Law History

Long, long ago (okay, back in 1941), the Virginia Supreme Court looked at the issue of “who gets the ring” and found that a husband could recover the value of his engagement ring if his soon-to-be wife broke off the parties’ engagement.

“[I]f an intended husband makes a present, after the treaty of marriage had been negotiated, to his intended wife, and the inducement for the gift is the fact of her promise to marry him, if she break off the marriage, he may recover from her the value of such present…”

This case (Pretlow v. Pretlow) espouses the “conditional gift” theory.  That is, the engagement ring is a gift conditioned on a marriage actually taking place.  If the condition is not met – if the marriage does not occur – the gift is forfeited and the ring must be returned.  Many states, including Maryland, view engagement rings as conditional gifts.