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Assuming a mortgage after divorce

Virginia couples may face a difficult decision about how to deal with the family home during a divorce. The family home can come with a significant amount of emotional baggage, especially if children are involved and feel an attachment to the house and their community. There are also major financial costs involved, especially because the marital home is often one of the largest assets divided in the divorce. This is particularly true if the couple have accumulated a large amount of equity in the home.

In some cases, divorcing spouses may decide to sell off the home, pay outstanding debts and divide the proceeds equitably as part of the property division process. This can be one way of avoiding one spouse holding a home that they are unable to afford on one income. When neither spouse is emotionally attached, this can be a smart financial decision. However, many people feel very strongly about the marital home and one spouse may want to keep it. In most cases, that spouse will need not only to buy out the other spouse but also to refinance or assume the mortgage in his or her name alone.

Abuse and alienation in child custody cases

Despite the widely-held belief that fathers face discrimination in family courts in Virginia and across the country, some research indicates that they are actually favored, even when credible allegations of abused are raised by mothers. According to one study of over 2,000 child custody cases involving allegations of child abuse, domestic violence and parental alienation, researchers found that allegations of parental alienation were frequently held to trump abuse claims, even when children spoke about their own experiences of abuse. In the past, mothers were often assumed by default to be the more appropriate caregiver for a child. In seeking to correct that bias, some courts may overcorrect, even when abusive fathers are involved.

Research indicates that around 58,000 children each year are placed into custody or unsupervised visitation with abusive parents. This may be particularly common when the parent accused of abuse, often the father, is wealthy or prominent. Child custody disputes can be costly, especially when they stretch out over multiple rounds of appeals or new claims filed in court. The wealthier parent may have more assets to keep fighting when the other parent's pocketbook is depleted. Some of the cases studied involved hundreds of thousands of dollars in costs.

Virginia ranks 12th in the nation over DUI laws

A WalletHub survey shows Virginia has some of the toughest laws in the country for driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI). The 2017 study places the Old Dominion state 12th for taking the most aggressive stance against drunk driving.

Alcohol-related crashes in 2017 killed 248 people and injured 7,285 others, according to the Virginia Highway Safety Office. Drivers can be charged with DUI if their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is 0.08% or higher.

The main reasons couples get divorced

Divorce is often looked at in a very negative light, but there is nothing shameful about a couple going their separate ways if their relationship isn't working. According to a recent survey, the top reason why spouses in Virginia and throughout the U.S. decide to divorce is a lack of love and intimacy. Some partners said that they no longer had any feelings for their spouse while others reported that they felt no intimacy from the other party.

The second most cited cause of divorce was a lack of communication. This can involve everything from the inability to resolve emotional disputes to not talking about ongoing financial issues. By not communicating, issues could fester until they can no longer be tolerated. When partners are unable to resolve problems, they often believe that there is no other course of action other than divorce.

How social media posts could be used in divorce cases

Posting on social media has become an intrinsic part of daily life for many Virginia residents. Facebook pages and Twitter feeds often paint a telling picture of how a person feels and thinks. Many divorcing spouses turn to social media to vent when the emotional strain of the process begins to take a toll, but they would be wise to think carefully before they post. Everything they say is likely to be read by their spouses and their attorneys.

One way to prevent this is to revise privacy settings and make social media feeds private. However, this is not likely to provide much of a deterrent to individuals with advanced computer skills. Curating social media accounts and eliminating potentially embarrassing content may also be of little use. This is because just about everything that is posted on the internet can be found in online archives by those who know where to look.

Lavish weddings lead to a surge in marital debt

Lavish weddings are becoming more common in Virginia and around the country, and a recent study from the financial services website LendingTree reveals that many couples are taking on large amounts of debt to pay for them. LendingTree hired a market research firm to ask 506 Americans between the ages of 18 and 53 who walked down the aisle within the last two years if they borrowed to pay for their wedding, and about 45% of them said that they did.

The results of the study suggest that taking on debt taken to pay for an expensive wedding can lead to marital strife later on. More than three-quarters of the respondents who took on such debt told researchers that they argued with their spouses over wedding-related bills, and almost half of them said the issue had led them to consider divorce. Only 9% of the spouses who did not take on this kind of debt felt the same way.

Do I need to prove why a court should grant me a divorce?

Divorce has become so common that almost everyone knows at least one person who has gone through the process. This can give the impression that it is easy to get a divorce, although this is not always the case.

If you think it is necessary to end your marriage and you plan to file for divorce, you will eventually need to decide what ground for divorce best fits your situation. A ground is a legally valid reason, and the ground that you choose will affect what you may need to prove to be granted a divorce.

Steps that can help protect separate finances in divorce

Some married millennials in Virginia may be among the 28% that a Bank of America survey says are keeping separate bank accounts. However, this may not protect them from having to split them as joint assets in case of divorce.

Virginia is an equitable property state, and this means that most of the time, a couple's separate earnings are considered individually in divorce. Marital assets are supposed to be divided equitably. However, some experts say couples should not assume that their separate bank accounts will be considered separate property. An attorney could successfully argue that these are marital assets that should be split. Separate accounts can be useful in divorce because they may ensure that both people have access to their own money to pay for divorce costs, but a prenup may provide more protection in a divorce.

What to do about student loan debt in a divorce

Some people who are getting a divorce may have student loan debt. If this debt was acquired prior to marriage, it is generally considered to be individual property. However, if it was acquired after marriage, the other spouse may be considered to have responsibility for a portion of it since Virginia is an equitable distribution state.

This means the court will divide debt and property based on a number of different factors. For example, for student loan debt, a court may look at how the couple used the money. If the student used all the money on tuition, fees and textbooks, it is more likely that the debt may be considered to belong solely to the student. However, if the couple used it to pay rent or for other marital expenses, it could be considered a shared debt. On the other hand, if one spouse offered extensive support to the student, it might be less likely that the debt will be considered shared.

Divorce can significantly impact business owners

Even under the best of circumstances when both parties agree that divorce is the correct path in moving forward, there are difficult decisions to be made. Child custody and child support certainly involve deep emotions and require long-range planning, but property division, asset division and determining how the two households will now earn sufficient income can also create dilemmas for many Virginia couples. These financial concerns are often magnified when a small business has been the source of income for one or both parties during the marriage.

Financial divorce experts report that the family home and a business are likely to be the most valuable marital assets for a divorcing couple. If the two can agree on a settlement, the court will most likely grant the request. If not, as an equitable distribution state, Virginia law requires a fair distribution of marital assets in consideration of monetary and nonmonetary contributions during the marriage. While the home may have increased significantly in equity during the marriage, it may be impossible or impractical for one party to afford the upkeep. On the other hand, the business may have what is considered a return on capital investment, but typically, one spouse has been the primary or sole contributor to that business during the marriage.

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