Common Family Law Issues

a paper cut out representing family law issues, contact Curran Moher Weis Family Attorneys for help in Fairfax

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.


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.


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.


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.



Divorce and the Holidays: Tips from Curran Moher Weis

holiday visitation virginia divorce

As the Christmas and New Year holidays are fast approaching, you want to be able to enjoy the holidays with your children and other loved ones.  If you are divorced with children or in the midst of a divorce with children, the holidays can be a very stressful time.  The last thing that anyone wants to do is argue over custody and visitation issues with their former spouse or soon-to-be former spouse during what should be a joyous and happy season.


Children’s Testimony in Custody Cases

child testimony in custody case

One of the biggest dilemmas that both family law attorneys and parents face in custody cases is whether a child should testify in the custody trial.  Some parents want to shield their child from the court process regardless of the circumstances, while others want to give their child a voice – particularly if the child wants to be heard.  Let’s look at some things to consider when this issue pops up:

Children’s Testimony, The law:

In custody cases, trial courts have a list of factors they must consider in determining what is in the “best interests of the child.”  These factors are listed in §20-124.3 of the Code of Virginia.  Factor 8 instructs the court to consider 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.”  A judge, after examination of the child or hearing evidence about the child’s age, maturity, and intelligence, has the discretion to decide whether the child is competent to testify


Holiday Visitation

holiday visitation

Holiday Visitation Custody

Holiday and summer schedules can often be a source of conflict between divorcing parties. The following are some common issues that can arise in crafting custody and visitation agreements, and potential solutions for them.

1. Thanksgiving and the issue of three weekends in a row

Where parties have a regular schedule that involves alternating weekends and the custody schedule provides that Thanksgiving encompasses both the holiday and the weekend immediately following it, one party or the other can end up having three weekends in a row with the children. This happens if Parent A’s Thanksgiving falls on Parent B’s weekend. Sometimes parents are fine with this. However if they are not, this issue can be solved in several ways. One way is to make Thanksgiving encompass only the Wednesday through Friday of the holiday and not the weekend. This solves the problem of three weekends in a row, but this may not be desirable when one or both parents customarily travel over the holiday and want the entire weekend to do so. Another option is to “reset” the schedule if it were to result in one parent having three weekends in a row, such that the weekend immediately following Thanksgiving weekend would “reset,” or switch to the parent who did not have the children over Thanksgiving weekend and the weekend immediately prior to it.


Passport Issues in Divorce and Custody Cases

International travel with children can be a hotly contested issue in divorce or custody cases, and even more so in our extremely transient, diverse, and well-traveled Northern Virginia population.  Many times, parties are able to work out mutually agreeable terms regarding international travel, but others aren’t so fortunate.  A parent might be concerned about his or her child traveling internationally for any number of reasons, including the safety of the destination country and the concerns of parental kidnapping.  This will serve as an introduction to some passport issues and how the state courts can get involved.

Most know that a passport is required for most international travel.  But even if international travel is not planned or expected, a passport can also be useful as a form of identification for a child, though a Child ID Card issued by the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles is generally easier to obtain.

U.S. passports may only be obtained by U.S. citizens and nationals.  An applicant who meets the criteria for a passport must be issued one.  Thus, as long as you can “check all the boxes” you are generally entitled to a passport.  The State Department cannot arbitrarily decline a request for a passport.


Custody Cases Involving Relocation

For ease of reading, the party seeking the relocation is referred to as the “relocating parent” and the party opposing the relocation is referred to as the “other parent”

With the number of people constantly moving in and out of the Northern Virginia area, it’s no wonder that relocation cases are some of the most frequently litigated domestic relations cases in our courts. Two separating parents that plan on living relatively close to each other can frequently come to a compromise that can be much more elusive in long-distance relocation cases. Indeed, many parents who even bring up the possibility of a long-distance move are met with an “over my dead body” type response from the other parent.

Regardless, in many circumstances, moves are unavoidable. For example, a recently divorced spouse might find that finances are so tight after the divorce that he or she simply can’t afford to remain in the costly Northern Virginia area. Other times, a new job or job transfer requires relocation. Parties may wish to relocate for a new spouse, or to move to an area they feel is “home,” often to be near relatives and the support network they can provide. Some may feel they would benefit from a fresh start or a change of scenery – a form of “geographic therapy”.

The law:

If the request to relocate with the child is made as part of an initial custody determination (i.e. a complaint for divorce or petition for custody), then the Court simply analyzes how the “best interests of the child” factors listed in §20-124.3 of the Code of Virginia apply to the facts of a particular case in determining whether a relocation is justified. If a custody order is already in place, the party seeking relocation needs to clear the additional hurdle of proving that there has been a material change in circumstances since the last order was entered. The burden to prove both is on the party seeking relocation. In the latter types of cases, the existing custody order will most likely require a party seeking to relocate to give the court and the other parent at least 30 days’ notice of the intended relocation. Note that the court cannot prohibit a parent from relocating – it can only prohibit the parent from taking the child with him or her.