What Can the Court Do While My Divorce Case is Pending?

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When a couple first starts down the path toward separation and divorce, it can be a scary and uncertain time. There are many changes with regard to finances, living situations, as well as circumstances surrounding the support and care of children. In addition, there is often a gap in time between the filing of an initial divorce case and the final trial before a Judge. To address the uncertainty during this time, Virginia courts have the power to determine issues on a pendente lite basis, or “pending litigation.” In other words, the Court can make some temporary rulings to assist the parties while their case is pending.

If you find yourself filing for divorce, know that you are not alone. Our experienced Fairfax divorce attorney from Curran Moher Weis has successfully helped clients through the court process, and is always ready to help you. call now and let´s find together the best resolution for your case.

Temporary Custody Issues

The Virginia pendente lite statute permits a Court to make a temporary determination regarding custody and visitation. Not all Courts in Northern Virginia, however, will hear custody and visitation issues on a temporary basis absent an emergency. While there are a number of situations that can constitute an emergency, some include the circumstance where one parent is completely withholding the children from the other or where there is danger to a child.

Temporary Support Issues

On a temporary basis, Virginia Courts can order that one parent pay the other spousal or child support. In many Northern Virginia jurisdictions, temporary support is based on spousal and child support guidelines. Temporary support is intended to allow each party to support himself or herself, as well as the children, until a final support determination is made by the Court or agreed-upon by the couple.

Temporary Property Issues

On a temporary basis, there are only certain issues regarding property that a Court can address. For one, a Court can order that one spouse have exclusive use and possession of the family residence. This requires that the other spouse live elsewhere and refrain from entering the family residence while the case is pending.

In addition, the Court can order that each party preserve his or her estate, or the marital estate. While this may not involve a “freezing” of accounts through financial institutions, the purpose is that neither party spends or dissipates his or her assets while the divorce case is pending so that any such assets are preserved for property division at a final trial

Other Temporary Issues

There are a handful of other actions that a Virginia Court can take on a temporary basis pursuant to the applicable code section – § 20-103. These include temporary determinations regarding medical and dental insurance, life insurance, and attorney’s fees.


Discuss Your Pendente Lite Divorce Issues with a Trusted Attorney

The firm of Curran Moher Weis has successfully helped clients navigate the period when a divorce case is pending, and we are here to help you. Contact our experienced Fairfax divorce attorney today.

Separation in Virginia

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You may have heard that some Virginia divorces require you and your spouse to live separately and apart for a period of time, but what does it mean to be “separated” in Virginia for purposes of divorce?

We encourage you to look for the best legal assistance you can get from a divorce attorney to help in your case and fight for your best interests. Our dedicated attorneys at Curran Moher Weis have over a decade of experience handling the most difficult divorce and family law-related cases in Northern Virginia and nearby cities.

Grounds for Divorce Based on Separation

Virginia has two grounds for divorce based on parties living separate and apart for a period of time. First, if you have no minor children and have a signed settlement agreement, the law requires that you and your spouse be separated for at least 6 months before you can file for and obtain a divorce. If you have minor children or do not have a signed settlement agreement, you must be separated from your spouse for 1 year or more before you can proceed with a divorce. While Virginia has grounds for divorce based on fault, meeting the requisite separation period allows a litigant to proceed with a no-fault divorce.


What Does it Mean to be Separated?

Under Virginia law, a married couple is separated, generally, when one spouse has the intent to separate and the parties physically live separate and apart. In most cases, the intent to separate must be communicated to the other spouse, but there are situations where it can be shown through action or inaction.


When it comes to living separately and apart, the clearest separation is when spouses live in two separate homes. This includes a spouse moving out to a new home, or moving in with a friend or family member.


However, for many divorcing couples, the prospect of having to support two households without a financial plan in place is untenable and the idea that parents may have to abruptly move away from their children while adjusting to separation is unthinkable. In these situations and others, Virginia divorce law permits an in-home separation. This means that the couple may live under the same roof but will still be considered to be separated for purposes of divorce.


Oftentimes, this requires a divorcing couple to sleep in separate bedrooms, separate household finances, do their own laundry, or a myriad of other behaviors that will support “separate” living circumstances. In addition, both or one spouse may need to have a friend or family member visit the home who can attest to the couple’s separate living situation within the home.

Learn How a Fairfax Divorce Attorney Near You Can Help

If you are wondering whether your circumstances will qualify as living separate and apart, or you want to commence a separation from your spouse, you will want to discuss your particular situation with a divorce attorney. A Curran Moher Weis attorney can advise you on separation from your spouse. Contact us to learn about our services.

Financial Implications of a Divorce: What are the financial implications of divorce?

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Divorce is considered one of the top five most stressful life events.  Divorce turns your entire world upside-down—your family, your living situation, and, yes, your finances as well.  In fact, financial stress is one of the top five causes of divorce.  This means a lot of divorcing couples were already dealing with financial issues before turning to the divorce court for relief.

Virginia Divides Marital Assets Equitably Not Equally

Virginia divides marital assets in a divorce based on what is equitable, not on what is “equal” (50/50). Courts in Virginia evaluate several things in determining asset division when a couple of divorces, including, among other things:


  1. The contributions each party made to the well-being of the family and the acquisition of assets;
  2. The length of time the couple was married;
  3. Age and health of both people;
  4. The circumstances contributing to the dissolution of the marriage; and
  5. The use of the marital property for nonmarital purposes


Based on these factors, Virginia will decide what each person “deserves” in the dividing of the assets. This means a husband who single-handedly built a successful business enterprise may walk away with more than a wife who spent most of the marriage unemployed going from job to job, for example.


Protecting Your Assets in a Divorce

How can you help your attorney prepare to address the financial issues in your divorce?  Consider assisting your attorney in the following ways?


  1. Gather 12-24 months of checking and savings account statements from each of your accounts;
  2. Gather 12-24 months of credit card statements from each of your accounts;
  3. Gather 12-24 months of retirement and investment account statements from each of your accounts;
  4. Locate and provide your past 3 Federal and State Tax returns;
  5. Locate and provide any statement reflecting large gifts you received from anyone other than your spouse or large payments you made during the marriage;
  6. Locate and provide statements of any debts you have; and
  7. Create a family asset sheet listing your family’s assets

Do You Need a Lawyer to help with Property Division?

Some of the things an experienced property division attorney can help you with include:


  1. How to legally and fairly handle anything you acquired after your spouse moved out;
  2. How to have one spouse’s name removed from the deeds to your cars, house, accounts, etc;
  3. How to divide up retirement accounts;


We also highly recommend consulting a financial expert (CPA, financial planner) to further navigate the financial implications of a Virginia divorce.

Protect Yourself with a Fairfax Divorce Lawyer

Lawyers can be expensive, but often not hiring a lawyer can be even more expensive.  Curran Moher Weis helps clients navigate complicated property division cases.   Contact us today to get the insights you need to make the most of your property division case.

How Do I File for Divorce in Virginia?

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

Whether you are considering a divorce or responding to divorce papers served by your spouse, it’s important to know the basic requirements for a Virginia divorce. Because the divorce process is complicated, working closely with an experienced attorney at Curran Moher Weis is the surest path forward.


Virginia divorce actions are filed in its circuit courts. In order to file for a divorce in Virginia, either you or your spouse must have been an actual and bona fide resident and domiciliary of Virginia for at least 6 months preceding the filing of the lawsuit. You cannot file for divorce unless you have been living separate and apart with the intention to divorce for a certain period of time, as follows:


  1. 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 executed a written property settlement agreement.
  2. If you and your divorcing spouse do not have minor children, you cannot file a no-fault divorce until you’ve been separated for at least one year, unless you qualify to file on fault grounds such as adultery.


The initial document that gets filed with the court is called the “Complaint for Divorce.” The Complaint for Divorce contains information regarding you, your spouse, your children, and the reasons for your divorce. The Complaint for Divorce includes a detailed “prayer for relief” section, wherein you ask the court to make certain awards or determinations because of your divorce. The prayer for relief section generally includes a request for the court to determine child support, spousal support, the custody and visitation of any child, and the division of any property and debts. The Complaint for Divorce must be “served” on the other spouse so that he or she has noticed that there is a pending divorce action. Service is typically accomplished by the sheriff or a private process server. In lieu of formal service, the other spouse may also formally “accept” the service of process by signing the proof of service before a notary.

The attorneys at Curran Moher Weis are able to assist you with the filing of your Complaint for Divorce or responding to your spouse’s Complaint for Divorce. Call now for assistance.

Common Family Law Issues

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The most common family law issues include:

  1. Divorce/Annulments – Terminating marriages through divorce or annulments. 
  2. Prenuptial/Premarital Agreements – Agreements between prospective spouses made in contemplation of marriage.
  3. Child Support – Payments made by a parent to cover the child’s basic living expenses. 
  4. Alimony – Also known as “spousal support” Payments made by a spouse to assist the other spouse to maintain their standard of living after a divorce.
  5. Adoption – Parental placement, step-parent, close relative, and adult adoptions.  
  6. Paternity – Establishing the father of the child. 
  7. Child Custody and Visitation –  Establishing a formal parenting plan after considering the best interests of the child.
  8. Property Division – Dividing assets, debts, and other liabilities in a divorce.

If you have questions about any of these common family law issues, contact an attorney from Curran Moher Weis today.

What Are Grounds for Divorce in Virginia?

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Unlike some states, Virginia allows both no-fault and fault-based divorces. A no-fault divorce is commonly one based upon living separate and apart for an uninterrupted period of at least one year. A fault-based divorce is one that is based on a claim that your spouse’s actions caused the dissolution of your marriage. The following “grounds for divorce” are often alleged in divorce cases:

Adultery – Engaging in sexual intercourse with another person who is not your spouse. Emotional affairs do not constitute adultery.

Sodomy – Committing oral or anal intercourse with another person that is not your spouse.

Buggery –Engaging in sexual intercourse with an animal.

Willful Desertion or Abandonment – Breaking off cohabitation against the wishes of the other spouse. However, if a spouse leaves the marriage because the other spouse has committed acts of cruelty, the spouse is not guilty of willful desertion or Abandonment.

Conviction of a Felony – If your spouse is convicted of a felony and sentenced to prison for a period in excess of one year, and you do not resume living together after the prison sentence, your spouse’s felony can constitute a ground for divorce.

Cruelty – Acting in a manner that causes bodily harm and renders living together unsafe

If you are considering filing for divorce, it is important to contact immediately an attorney at Curran Moher Weis to determine if the circumstances and factors that contributed to the dissolution of your marriage allow you to file for fault-based divorce in Virginia. If your spouse has filed a fault-based divorce action against you, our attorneys will discuss with you, what, if any, defenses you may have to their alleged grounds for divorce.

What To Know When Modifying Spousal Support

divorce attorney helping clients with a spousal support modification

If you’re in a situation where 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 attorney at Curran Moher Weis.

Modifying Spousal Support

Suppose there is sufficient reason for doing so. In that case, 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. Reasons the court may increase or decrease the amount of spousal support – or alter its duration – can 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.


Terminating Spousal Support

In Virginia, a typical spousal support award terminates upon one of the following things occurring:

1) the death of either party;

2) the remarriage of the recipient spouse; or

3) if it is proven that the recipient spouse has been habitually cohabiting with another person in a relationship analogous to marriage for one year or more.

While death and remarriage are straightforward, cohabitation is often far less so.


An Experienced Fairfax Divorce Lawyer Can Help

If you need a spousal support modification – or your ex is seeking one – the attorneys from Curran Moher Weis have the experience to support your best interests. Contact us now for a consultation.

How to Get a Divorce in Virginia

The 6 Steps To Prepare Yourself For a Divorce


  1. Don’t wait to protect yourself! Know your rights early.

Clients often come to see me in the early stages of separation and divorce. Sometimes a client is just looking to know “what if” scenarios if one of them decides to divorce.  These clients almost always leave saying something like “wow, I never knew that – thank goodness I met with you,” or “I will definitely take the steps you recommended if we decide to separate.”  I have also had clients come to me months or even a year or more after they or their spouse made the decision to divorce.  Sometimes that delay has put them in a bad position as they have made decisions I would have cautioned them against had they met with me sooner.  If you are considering separation or divorce (or you think your spouse is), speak with an experienced attorney as soon as you can.  There are almost certainly things you can do to put yourself in a better situation when it comes time to divorce.  These may include dividing bank accounts, opening new bank accounts, collecting information and documentation on your spouse’s financial and personal situation, and a whole host of other things.

  1. Be prepared when you meet with an attorney.

There are several things you can do to maximize your first meeting with an attorney:

  • Create a list or spreadsheet of the assets and debts you know exist. Sometimes people don’t have all this information and that’s fine, but having a list of what you do know about is often very helpful.  Be sure to let your attorney know if you believe your spouse may be hiding assets, or has been keeping you in the dark about what they have;
  • Prepare a list of questions you have. The attorney you meet with should be able to answer your questions at the initial consultation, or if a question cannot be answered at that time, explain why that is;
  • Determine what your priorities are and communicate them. Also, give thought to what you would like your post-divorce life to look like.  Do you intend to relocate?  Do you see yourself as being the primarily caretaker of the children, or more of a shared parenting arrangement?  Do you want to stay in the marital residence or have it sold?  Do you expect to retire soon, or make an employment change, like starting a business?
  1. Live separately.

In most circumstances, you and your spouse must live separately for one year before either of you can apply to the court for a divorce.  Separation generally means one of two things: 1) that someone moves out of a shared residence and either or both parties have the intent to pursue a divorce, or 2) the parties live separately in the same residence and either or both parties have the intent to pursue a divorce.  Moving out is a clear demarcation for separation, but living separately in the same residence can be more challenging.  If you are considering living separately under the same roof, you can see our checklist of things you should be doing (if possible) to ensure that you truly are living separately here: In house separation

  1. Get important things out of the house.

If there are any valuables or sentimental items that you would be very upset to lose, it is generally a good idea to get them out of the house.  Store them at a trusted friend or relative’s house, or in a storage facility.  You may also want to download copies of family photos and videos onto a cloud service or external hard drive.

  1. Know that the date of separation is the date of financial separation and act accordingly.

In Virginia, the date of separation is the date of financial separation.  Everything that is earned before the date of separation is presumed to marital property.  Every debt that is incurred before the date of separation is presumed to be a marital debt.  Conversely, after the date of separation all income earned is presumed to be the separate property of the party who earned it, and all debt is presumed to be the separate debt of the party who incurred it.  What does this mean in the real world?  It means that in most cases, it will be a good idea for you to open new credit cards and bank accounts after the date of separation to keep your separate property separate, and marital property marital.  Consult with an attorney on how best to use the accounts created.

  1. Consider the process you want to use.

In Virginia besides litigating in court, there are several processes you can use to get from a separation to a completed divorce.  They are negotiation, mediation, and Collaborative Law, and information about them can be found here:  Divorce without court: options for a less cumbersome, stressful process.  It would be a good idea to review these options and discuss with your attorney which process option you believe may best fit your situation.

When you’re considering separation and divorce, it can be a challenge just figuring out where to start!  Fortunately, at Curran Moher Weis, we have the experience and expertise to help you navigate these waters.

Behavioral Economics and Its Impact on Divorce Negotiations

By Steven Goldman, Esq.

Stemming from my background in finance and business, combined with an interest in psychology, I have always been enamored by the field of Behavioral Economics – the study of psychology as it relates to economic decision-making. Over time, reading and studying Behavioral Economics became a hobby of mine and something I would apply in daily financial decisions.

I eventually began to think about how the field of Behavioral Economics, and understanding how people make decisions generally, could help me in my practice as a family law and divorce attorney. After reading several books written by pioneers in the field (Thinking Fast and Slow, Daniel Kahneman; Misbehaving, Richard Thaler; Predictably Irrational, Dan Ariely; etc.) and wanting to dive further into the subject matter, I enrolled in – and recently completed – a Behavioral Finance course through the University of Chicago.

In this blog, I will provide a few lessons about how Behavioral Economics can be utilized in matters of divorce and family law.

First, a primer on Behavioral Economics. An online search will tell you that the average adult makes more than 35,000 decisions per day, with 90% of those decisions made subconsciously. Daniel Kahneman describes two systems for decision-making: System 1, which is instinctual, automatic, and does not require effortful thought processes (e.g., driving, eating); and System 2, which is deliberate, controlled, and requires significant mental energy (e.g., mathematical calculations, deciding on an expensive purchase such as a house or car).

To conserve energy, our minds complete as many decisions with System 1 processing as possible.  Because System 1 acts without deep thought, it relies on heuristics, or biases, which act as shortcuts to influence our decision-making processes. Some examples of biases that I will show in relation to divorce negotiations are as follows:

  • Status Quo
  • Loss Aversion
  • Anchoring
  • Endowment Effect
  • Confirmation
  • Overconfidence

It is impossible to ignore or eliminate our biases, but we can recognize the way they operate and use that to think more clearly with System 2. We can also use what is called Choice Architecture – designing choices and options in ways that influence the decision-making process.

Example 1 – Custody Negotiations

Custody issues are always one of the most difficult to negotiate. One reason is that both parties are strongly impacted by their Status Quo biases. Prior to a separation, each parent is accustomed to living in the same home as the child and now there is a necessary adjustment to two households. Any schedule, regardless of the split, will feel like a loss of time. Loss Aversion is the principle that drives people to protect and preserve what they already have. In this scenario, the entire family used to live in the same home and both parents will feel a strong sense of loss as soon as the child’s time is divided. Parents often have a hard time negotiating a parenting time schedule because it all feels like a loss of time and, therefore, the negotiation will feel like a loss regardless of the outcome.

One way that I support clients through Loss Aversion is to redirect the conversation around the issue of time. Working with a Divorce Coach or Child Specialist, as we often do in the Collaborative Divorce process, provides the parties with an experienced mental health professional to focus on the benefits of co-parenting. An expert is there to guide the parents and explain that a child will benefit from positive co-parenting and that the co-parenting relationship will have a greater impact on a child than a particular schedule. The schedule will still be an important component to the negotiation, but it can be viewed as one piece of the puzzle to address the child’s needs.

Example 2 – Expectations and Financial Negotiations

One of the biggest obstacles in divorce negotiations is overcoming expectations. Expectations are developed as early as a client’s initial consultation that includes a sales pitch and a promise. Unfortunately, legal advice can and usually does shift when more objective information becomes available.

The problem is that the initial expectations become Anchors from which it may be difficult to deviate. Receiving anything less than initially expected will seem like a loss, even if it is an objectively reasonable and likely outcome.

Another issue arises when there are drastic disagreements over subjective financial matters, such as valuation of property. People typically overvalue their belongings, which is known as the Endowment Effect. As a result, it may be difficult to settle a buyout of a house, which carries history, memories, and sometimes serves as a home base for custody-related reasons. In financial negotiations, parties are expected to be rational and value a home based on an objective financial analysis. In reality, one person must receive less than what he or she believes it is worth due to the Endowment Effect. That person then typically uses the money to purchase a new property unaffected by those same biases. The result is the feeling that the person received less for the marital home and acquired something worth less.

One way to assist in financial negotiations is to implement the aforementioned Choice Architecture, which is another way of saying that we can frame choices to influence decisions. One way I have accomplished this in a negotiation is by providing multiple options that account for the biases parties bring into their decision-making.

Example of Choice Architecture:

Mr. and Mrs. Smith are negotiating the issues surrounding their house and the amount of spousal support to be paid by Mr. Smith.

The goal is for my client, Mrs. Smith, to get the marital home and receive as much support as possible. My client is aiming for Option 3 in this offer.

  • Option 1: Mr. and Mrs. Smith sell the house and each receive $80K ($40K in closing costs, divided equally). Mr. Smith pays $2,000 per month for 36 months in spousal support
  • Option 2: Mrs. Smith buys the house for $100K. Mr. Smith pays $2,000 per month in support for 30 months
  • Option 3: Mrs. Smith buys the house for $100K. Mr. Smith pays $1,800 per month in support for 36 months

Option 1 is completely unacceptable under any objective analysis, but it is valuable because:

  1. The presence of Option 1 shows that a buyout is better for Mr. Smith (an extra $20K), which will immediately narrow the focus between Options 2 and 3;
  2. Even though Option 1 is the higher amount of support for the longer period, it serves as an anchor for both numbers.
    • Option 2 “saves” 6 months of support for Mr. Smith
    • Option 3 “saves” $200 per month for Mr. Smith

There are different benefits to each option, but my guess is that most people would choose $1,800 per month because all support payments are perceived as losses and it is easier to picture a smaller loss for a longer period (Present Bias).

We have therefore constructed options that are aimed at Mr. Smith selecting Option 3, which provides for $4,800 in additional support as compared to Option 2.

Compare the above choices to a typical offer – I want $1,800 per month for a period of 36 months. $1,800 will not feel like $200 savings and 36 months will still seem too long. If I go even higher with my only offer, as most clients wish to do in order to give “negotiating room,” you run the risk of the offer coming across as unreasonable and not advancing the negotiations.  Alternatively, you are negotiating all of the terms and slowing the negotiations to a crawl.

That is not to suggest that Choice Architecture will guarantee success, but that it is designed to account for our biases and instinctual decision-making processes.

Example 3 – Timing of Negotiations

Lastly, whether due to a lack of time, distractions, or even for perceived strategic advantage, settlement negotiations are often saved until just prior to a trial. Objectively and behaviorally, this is one of the worst times to settle a case for several reasons – mainly the following:

  • Confirmation Bias: Through Confirmation Bias, we seek ideas and evidence that confirm our beliefs while reacting negatively to anything that contradicts our beliefs. As a client and attorney prepare for trial, they analyze the information in a light most favorable to their argument. It is likely that they ignore or even overlook the counterarguments. The positions become even more ingrained and the case becomes harder to settle.
  • Overconfidence: Related to and often resulting from Confirmation Bias is Overconfidence. If we continue to support and confirm our beliefs while simultaneously devaluing contradictory information, we become overconfident in our chances of success. A client is less likely to negotiate a fair outcome if he or she is overconfident about his or her chances in Court.
  • Sunk Cost Effect: The Sunk Cost Effect occurs when a person continues his or her behavior because of previously invested resources. Once we are invested in something, we have a hard time giving up on that investment. I have had clients openly admit that they would probably have accepted an offer if it came earlier in the case, but now that so much was spent on attorney fees, they feel it is “worth it to roll the dice” at trial.

    Objectively, the amount spent on attorney fees should have no bearing on whether to accept the deal. Additional attorney fees have no effect on the outcome of the case. Even more puzzling is that proceeding to trial will cost even more money to take the same risks.

If attorneys are aware of these biases, they should be making a concerted effort to gather the necessary data and proceed to negotiations much earlier in the litigation process. Doing so would lessen the impact of these biases on the negotiations and increase the chances of success.

Behavioral Economics clearly plays an important role in the way we think about money and make financial decisions, but its principles also guide the way we make decisions in many other areas of life.

In matters of family law, it is important to have an attorney who accounts for our natural tendencies and considers those in his or her counsel. If you have questions about a Virginia divorce or other family law issue, or wish to discuss a fresh approach to your case, Curran Moher Weis has experienced family law attorneys who can assist you through the process.

Please check out our reviews. You can request a consultation on our website or by calling us at (571) 328-5020.

Divorce Without Court: Options for a Less Cumbersome, Stressful Process

By Grant Moher, Esq.

Current quarantines and mandated closures resulting from the COVID-19 outbreak will impact many people’s lives and businesses in very serious ways. One aspect I want to focus on, as it is currently affecting many of our clients, is the assumption that divorce must happen through court.

With Virginia courts halting all non-emergency hearings, couples pursuing litigation will experience substantial delays. For those couples, and those contemplating divorce, it is more important than ever to know: divorce doesn’t have to mean court.  In fact, the vast majority of our cases  (even those that start with court filings) resolve by other means.

Below is a guide to help you understand the various options for resolving your case without the expense, difficulty, delay, and uncertainty of court.

  1. Kitchen table” negotiation. So-called “kitchen table” negotiation is where you and your spouse discuss the terms of your divorce on your own and come up with a resolution.  One of you then hires an attorney only to draw up the agreement, and you both sign it.

It is crucial that an experienced attorney be the one to prepare the written agreement.  Some of the most difficult and costly situations I have seen in my nearly 20 years of practice were the result of couples signing agreements they drafted and signed on their own that contained conflicting provisions, vague terms, or were entirely unenforceable. Kitchen table negotiation can work well for low-conflict situations where there is a good deal of trust between the parties and everyone has full information about the situation, but you must work with an attorney who is well-versed on this process.

  1. Attorney Negotiation. Attorney negotiation involves both parties hiring an attorney (or one hiring an attorney and the other spouse representing his or herself directly), and those representatives negotiating back and forth to resolve the couple’s situation.  Attorney negotiation can be very effective for situations where a couples’ communication has broken down, or there is a power imbalance between the parties.
  2. Mediation. Mediation usually involves a series of meetings between a divorcing couple and a professional mediator who is trained to help them seek effective solutions to their disagreements.  Mediation is often a good alternative for situations that can’t simply be resolved through a “kitchen table” negotiation.

It is advisable that each spouse have their own attorney to advise them throughout the process, but the attorneys don’t necessarily have to attend the mediations. When I represent a client during mediation, I most often support that person by outlining a strategy in advance of or following a session.

In a situation where several mediation sessions are required, it can be useful for each party’s attorneys to attend and assist the couple in resolving remaining issues. I also typically recommend that one party’s attorney, rather than the mediator, draft the written agreement after the parties reach agreement in principle. It has been my experience that mediators sometimes do not draft agreements as “tightly” as the attorneys representing the   individual parties do.

  1. Collaborative Divorce. Collaborative divorce is a process by which a couple signs an agreement committing not to go to court, and to resolve issues pertaining to their divorce over a series of meetings with attorneys who have received special Collaborative law training. The process may also involve other professionals such as a neutral financial professional to help with the division of assets and support, if appropriate, or a mental health professional to help with emotional aspects of a case and / or issues involving the parties’ children.

The Collaborative process delves into the difficulties between divorcing parties more deeply than mediation or other processes.  As a result, the agreement reached can often be a better foundation for separation and divorce.  This can be very important for parties divorcing with youn children, as they will need to work through issues involving those children for years to come. You can find more information about the collaborative process here.

Of course, it’s not always possible to resolve a case outside of court.  But your attorney should always discuss the various options to resolve your case outside of court – and he or she should do this in the very first meeting you have.

Curran Moher Weis has several experienced family law attorneys who are trained in Collaborative divorce, and all of our attorneys are skilled in resolving cases outside of court. Schedule a consultation with one of our Virginia divorce attorneys through our website here or by calling us at (571) 328-5020.

Check back here at our blog regularly for other news and tips we provide to support you as you navigate separation, divorce or child custody issues.