Friday, May 23, 2014

Things to remember post-divorce

While it may sound like the divorce process is over once the Final Decree of Divorce has been entered, there are a few things you still may need to get done.  Here's a brief list of some of those things:

1.  Update your insurance.  This includes making sure you and, if applicable, your children have adequate health insurance.  Your ex-spouse may be required to carry health insurance for your children or you may be required to carry it.  Either way, you need to update your insurance to make sure you are covered.  This also includes life insurance.  Update your beneficiaries and let your life insurance company know about your divorce to ensure your records are still valid. 

2.  Update your Pay On Death records.  This could include stocks, bank accounts, etc.  Make sure anything you have designated to be disbursed to your husband upon your death is updated and the companies are informed of the divorce.

3.  Update your titles.  This could include the title and mortgage on your home, your car, your boat, etc.  Make sure the documents are executed to separate the property. 

4.  Look at your finances.  Your financial picture has probably changed significantly as a result of your divorce.  Do you have adequate retirement plans in place?  It may be smart to meet with a financial advisor to make a long-term plan for you to be financially stable. 

This list is non-exclusive and you should talk with your attorney about all of the steps that need to be taken post-divorce to ensure everything is in order and you are independently stable.  If you are contemplating divorce, going through a divorce or are recently divorced and would like a consultation, please contact us at (804) 447-0146 or

Monday, May 19, 2014

Going through divorce: Can I start dating again?

After the separation of the parties during a divorce, some people, though not all, want to begin dating again as soon as possible.  So, legally, when can you start dating and when is still considered adultery?

While technically, you MAY be able to get away with dating after separation but prior to a final divorce, you may also face negative repercussions to doing so.  If there is any issue with the separation date or other technicality with the divorce, you could face being accused of adultery. Additionally, if the court finds that your post-separation adultery prevented reconciliation, the court may grant your spouse a divorce based on, among other things, post-separation adultery. 

If the court finds that you have committed adultery, there are some potentially serious consequences for you.  The biggest consequence you could face is being denied spousal support.  Depending on your case, this could result in a loss of a fair amount of money to you in your divorce case.

That being said, it is safest to wait to begin dating until the divorce is finalized.  You should always feel welcome, however, to discuss your individual circumstances of your case with your attorney to determine what is best for you individually.

If you are thinking about divorcing or currently going through a divorce and would like a consultation, please contact us at (804) 447-0146 or

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Top 5 Questions to Ask a Divorce Attorney BEFORE you hire them

Starting the divorce process can be daunting and overwhelming.  The first step should be to retain an attorney to help you through the process.  Here are the top five questions you should ask a divorce attorney BEFORE you hire them.

1. What is your typical approach or strategy to cases similar to mine?  You will want to know if that attorney tends to work towards a settlement or tends to go straight to trial.  While the decision to settle is entirely yours, some attorneys believe settlements are better for their clients than others. 

2.  How often will I hear from you?  This answer will give you a great idea of the relationship that will exist between you and the attorney.  Some attorneys touch base more than others, if only to say that nothing has changed.  Are you the type of person that wants constant communication or do you only want communication when there is a change or update in your proceedings?  Will you get frustrated if your phone call is not returned immediately?  While this seems like a minute detail, communication is the basis for a great attorney-client relationship and you want to make sure both you and the attorney understand the expectations from the beginning.

3.  What is the time frame?  Many times, this answer cannot be given with any amount of certainty.  However, knowing a ball park time frame up front, with the understanding that things do come up with alter that time frame, will give you more patience during the process.  If you think the attorney is going to take too long to accomplish your goals, you may want to speak with some other attorneys (although the answer may not change).

4.  Who will be working on my case?  Many firms have multiple attorneys working on a case and likely a legal assistant or secretary as well.  You will want to know up front who all you will be working with and what their roles will be.  For example, if you have a question, who would be the best person for you to call: the attorney, his/her associate or the secretary?  Having this laid out up front will help you understand the process and make communication easier in the future. 

5.  How much will this cost?  In most divorce cases, an exact cost cannot be given but a range can be provided.  This is because most divorce attorneys perform work at an hourly rate.  At the beginning of a case, it is difficult to ascertain exactly how much time your case will take.  However, you can know what the hourly rates are of each person working on your case and an estimated number of hours.  Some attorneys charge more than others and it may be an important fact for you to consider when determining whether to hire an attorney.  This will also be a good time for you to discuss how much money needs to be provided up front and how you will be charged for additional funds in the future. 

While this list is not inclusive of every question you should ask a divorce attorney, asking these five questions will help you understand everyone's roles in your case and the expectations of you and the attorney.  If you are not satisfied with any of the answers, don't be afraid to express your concerns.  In fact, you should express your concerns.  Your concerns may be legitimate concerns that may prevent you from hiring the attorney or they may be a result of miscommunication and misinterpretation that can be resolved by discussing the issue further. 

If you are going through a divorce or considering a divorce and would like a consultation, please contact us at (804) 447-0146 or

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Living together before marriage: think about a cohabitation agreement

When married couples split up, they have the law to help them separate their lives and belongings.  When an unmarried couple splits up, they have very little law and guidance on how to separate their lives and belongings.  This is particularly true in the case of unmarried couples who have been living together.  A cohabitation agreement may be right for you even if you expect to never split up.

In a cohabitation agreement, you and your partner can set out guidelines for what it will look like living together: who will be responsible for what tasks, who will pay which bills, who will provide what furniture.  This agreement is helpful even if you never split up.  It allows both parties to discuss and agree on household issues BEFORE they become issues for the relationship.

You can also agree, in a cohabitation agreement, what a potential split up will look like: who will get what belongings, who will be allowed to remain in the home, particularly if you own it, and how that will be divided, etc. This agreement will then become your guidelines during a split-up.  This way, both parties will know what to expect and they have already agreed on how things should proceed.

A cohabitation agreement is a type of contract and many parts of that agreement will be enforceable.  However, a cohabitation agreement is helpful to couples aside from the legal enforcement aspect, in that it provides a communication avenue and clarity of expectations from the beginning.

If you would like more information or a consultation, please contact us at (804) 447-0146 or

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Going through divorce: What about my health insurance?

There are millions of questions going through you head during a divorce and this one may or may not have come across your mind.  You're going through a divorce and you've been on your spouse's health care insurance; now what?

In many cases, the court can order your spouse to maintain you on his/her health insurance policy during the pendency of the divorce.  This means, during the time you are separated but not yet officially divorced, you may still be able to have health care coverage through your spouse.  However, it is extremely unlikely that you will be able to be maintained on his/her health care coverage after the divorce is finalized.  This means, during the pendency of the divorce, you should be looking into your options for health care; don't wait until the divorce is finalized to begin researching your options.  Keep in mind, however, the court may order that your spouse maintain your children on his/her health care insurance even beyond the finalization of the divorce.

If you are thinking about divorcing or currently going through a divorce and would like a consultation, please contact us at (804) 447-0146 or

Friday, May 2, 2014

Wills: Can I just use an online form?

You know you need a will (and if you don't, then stop and read this first) but it's a tough topic to think about, it's time consuming, and you aren't sure where to start.  For many people they turn to google and what pops up?  Online forms for will (think legal zoom type websites).  It's cheap, it's convenient, it's easy, so why not use it?

Ultimately, the decision on if you get a will done and how you reach that end goal is up to you.  However, you should think twice before you bypass a professional in the process.  Cheap, convenient and easy may sound great, but is it complete, thorough and in accordance with the laws of your state?  That's the more important question.

Working with an attorney to have a will drawn up is more than a simple document.  Through working with an attorney, rather than filling out a form, you receive state specific legal advice.  This means, we know the law.  We know how the law has changed and we know the consequences of the law.  We can look at your plan and point out holes or misconceptions and explain to you the reality of the results of your plan for your will. 

Working with an attorney will provide you with the opportunity to look at the bigger picture.  What are you missing with only having a will in place?  Are there other documents you need to protect yourself (such as titling assets a specific way)?  An attorney can show you the bigger picture and provide you with the resources you need to ensure you have a complete plan for the future. 

Additionally, in the future, should you decide you want to change your plans for your will, you can revisit your attorney, who has a past history and extensive knowledge of your situation, for advice on how to achieve your new goals.  To sum up, it may be more expensive, it may be slightly more work and inconvenience to seek the advice of an attorney on a will, but an online form is only going to get you a final product that may or may not reflect your wishes and goals; an attorney is going to provide you with additional resources, a big picture, and the ability to adjust your will more easily in the future.

If you need a will or need to update your will and would like a consultation, please contact us at (804) 447-0146 or