If you are currently involved in a divorce or family law case, or may be facing one soon, we hope that the information on this site will help you navigate the often confusing and complicated maze of Virginia's divorce and family laws.
If you are looking for the main law firm website, or would like more information about the law firm, click here.
Our lawyers have handled hundreds of divorce and family law cases, in the Virginia Supreme Court, the Virginia Court of Appeals, and in circuit courts and juvenile courts in Charlottesville and across Virginia. Our lawyers frequently publish in legal journals, teach courses to other lawyers, and are retained by other lawyers specifically for the purpose of using our experience to assist them. With over 30 years of experience, our lawyers have the knowledge and experience to protect our clients' interests in these deeply distressing situations. You can find more information about our lawyers on our main site or by clicking here.
Problems affecting family relationships are some of the most stressful a person will face. We created this site to help you understand the options that are available, to weigh the benefits and costs of different approaches, and to participate in the decision making process. To be an active participant in a family law case, you need to understand the court system and the "law" - which consists both of cases (called "case law" or "common law") and statutes enacted by the Virginia General Assembly. You also have to understand the procedures used in divorce case. For a guide you can print, please click Guide to Divorce and Family Law in Virginia. If you are concerned that your attorney is not giving you all of the information you think you need, you may want to read our blog on dishonest divorce lawyers.
While the law provides general instructions, it is courts, and the judges who preside over them, who actually decide how a case is resolved. The Virginia courts have different levels, and each level has a different purpose. At the low end is the Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court. The next level is the Circuit Court. At the highest level are the Virginia Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court of Virginia. You can find more information about these courts on the Virginia court system by clicking on the Courts tab above.
Virginia has a set of written laws (statutes) called the Code of Virginia. Within the Code are many Titles, each of them dealing with a different issue. The Code Title relating specifically to divorce is Title 20. Its provisions cover almost all issues related to divorce in Virginia including the grounds for divorce, child support, spousal support, custody and visitation and the distribution of property. Certain family matters can also be handled by the Juvenile and Domestic Relation District Court, and the Title covering these issues is Title 16.1. In addition, there are dozens of other Titles that come into play including ones covering real estate, tax, evidence, children, criminal law and other topics. A more complete list of statutes can be found by clicking theLaws tab above.
The law is also made up of cases from the Court of Appeals and the Virginia Supreme Court. It is important to remember that Juvenile Courts or Circuit Courts may decide thousands of cases each year, and none of these decisions are binding on any other Juvenile or Circuit Court. In other words, a judge in Alexandria may decide custody cases in a particular way, but a judge in Albemarle County is free to decide the same case entirely differently. The only cases that a trial court must follow are the published decisions of the Virginia Court of Appeals and all decisions of the Virginia Supreme Court. These binding decisions of the Court of Appeals and Supreme Court are called "case law". To learn about "case law", the best place to look is recent published cases of the Virginia Court of Appeals and the Virginia Supreme Court. You can read some of the more interesting recent cases by clicking on the Laws tab above.
The main issues to be decided in a divorce case are the grounds of divorce, spousal support, child support, custody, visitation, child support, and division of property and debt. In each of these main issues there are literally thousands of related issues. A discussion of all of these issues would take hundreds of pages, and is beyond the scope of this website. You can find a broad discussion of the main issues by clicking on the Issues tab above.
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Virginia's laws impacting family issues are constantly being modified by the Virginia Legislature and interpreted by Virginia courts. As a result, the law is always in flux. Please visit Virginia Family Law Blog to read about recent developments