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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.

Inaccurate breath tests and low-carb diets

Before issuing a DUI, law enforcement in Virginia generally first consider the suspect's behavior during the traffic stop. Police may look for such signs as smelling like alcohol and performing poorly on a field sobriety test. However, it is possible that a person who is on a low-carb diet might have breath test results that falsely register a blood alcohol content above the legal limit.

A Texas attorney successfully argued this point for his client, who was in ketosis, and got DUI charges dismissed. He says that the portable tests carried by most law enforcement officer, which use fuel cells, read isopropyl and ethanol alcohol the same way. The former may be produced in the breath of people who are in ketosis, which is caused by a low-carb diet. It can also be caused by certain medical conditions, such as diabetes. A 2006 study examined the case of a man who was unable to start a vehicle with an ignition interlock device that used fuel cell technology despite not being drunk. He was also on a low-carb diet.

How financial disparities may lead to a divorce

Financial disputes are one of the problems that can most commonly lead Virginia couples to end their marriage. This disputes can be exacerbated when one partner makes significantly more. However, according to one study, this is particularly true when the higher-earning partner is the wife, rather than the husband. These couples were 33 percent more likely to divorce, and there are a number of factors that could contribute to the situation.

Some husbands say that their wives can be overbearing about financial decision-making, especially if they are the sole or major breadwinners. These types of disputes can emerge frequently in couples with widely disparate incomes, but men may be less willing to accept an unequal role in financial decisions for the family. However, not all of the issues were related to inequality in the relationship. Even when financial decisions were made equitably by the couple, with both partners having a valued voice in the discussion, these couples seemed to have a higher likelihood of divorcing.

How many points against your license is too many?

Traffic violations have serious consequences. Unsafe driving poses a danger to everyone on the road and surrounding property. These are the consequences that some don’t think will happen to them. People also don’t realize the impact numerous traffic violations in a short time can have on your driving record.

Virginia uses a points-based system for assessing driving records. Racking up 18 points in one year or 24 points in two years can lead to a 90-day suspension of their license. Many people would have a hard time getting to work, the grocery store or taking their kids to soccer practice without their license.

What to know about retirement after a divorce

Divorce can have a significant impact on Virginia couples For instance, it may be necessary to divide property, decide who gets the kids and determine if either side gets alimony. When going through the process of creating a divorce settlement, it is important for each side to determine how it could impact their retirement. If an individual has an IRA, 401(k) or a pension, it might be divided in a settlement.

This could be true even if the account was only in one person's name. In the event that a 401(k) or other qualified plan is to be split in a divorce decree, it will need to be divided through a qualified domestic relations order (QDRO). Ideally, the QDRO will be crafted by someone who has experience dealing with the nuances that may come with it.

Joint custody more likely than in the past

How the legal system handles divorce and child custody has changed significantly over the past several decades, and parents in Virginia are more likely to share custody than was once the case. In the past, custody was often awarded to mothers on the assumption that they were the best caretakers for children. Mothers still get sole custody more than fathers do, but there is a shift toward more visitation time for fathers and more shared custody.

This is true even when the parents were never married. While married fathers with more assets are more likely to seek custody, courts tend to treat divorced and unmarried fathers in the same way. Fathers who have fewer assets are more likely to be successful at obtaining custody or visitation rights than they used to be.

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