Law Talk Episode 9: Virginia Family Law

Jacob Tingen: Hello, and welcome to Law Talk with Tingen & Williams. This is Jacob Tingen, and I am here with Jonathan Jordan. Jonathan Jordan: Good morning. Jacob Tingen: He’s…

Jacob Tingen: Hello, and welcome to Law Talk with Tingen & Williams. This is Jacob Tingen, and I am here with Jonathan Jordan.

Jonathan Jordan: Good morning.

Jacob Tingen: He’s one of the partners, and the partner of our family law practice. Today, for Law Talk with Tingen & Williams, we’re going to be talking about family law issues like divorce, custody, child support, and a number of other issues that might come up. Feel free to give us a call for a free legal consult. 804-477-1720. We are here just about every Wednesday at 11:00 a.m.
To kick us off today, Jon, why don’t you just give us an overview of the family law practice here at Tingen & Williams that you’re in charge of, and then family law generally in Virginia?

Jonathan Jordan: Okay, so family law, what we mean by that is kind of what it says, anything that has to do with the family. Typically, family law can include divorce, custody, visitation, child support, protective orders, and even into potentially delinquent children not going to school, that kind of thing, trouble at school … That would all be encompassed in family law or domestic relations, and that typically would be in a Juvenile Court here in Virginia.

Jacob Tingen: Okay, you mentioned Juvenile Court, you mentioned Virginia. Most family law issues are handled in the Juvenile & Domestic Relations Court, right?

Jonathan Jordan: Yes, that’s where they would start. The Juvenile Court is more … The idea is have a court moral expert, and have more tools available to address the issues.

Jacob Tingen: That’s the idea of the judges who are assigned to the Juvenile & Domestic Relations Court here in Virginia, is that they’re familiar with the family law issues, particularly those relating to juveniles or domestic violence. Does that kind of fall into that topic as well?

Jonathan Jordan: Yeah, typically that would start in the Juvenile Court.

Jacob Tingen: Okay. Even though it’s not necessarily a juvenile issue, by virtue of being a domestic violence issue, it falls into the JDR.

Jonathan Jordan: Yeah, the Juvenile & Domestic Relations-

Jacob Tingen: Right.

Jonathan Jordan: So, the family-type stuff.

Jacob Tingen: Now, divorce is different because it doesn’t go there first, right?

Jonathan Jordan: Yeah, divorce skips the Juvenile Court, and the only court that can hear a divorce case is the Circuit Court, and that’s the next level up from the Juvenile Court. You would typically, in Juvenile Court, you would appeal to the Circuit Court if you didn’t like the outcome. But with divorce, you start there.

Jacob Tingen: Why is that? Can you kind of give us a background on why that is the case? You just told us that the juvenile and domestic relation courts in Virginia are designed so that people are familiar with these family law issues. Why does divorce start in Circuit Court? What makes divorce unique?

Jonathan Jordan: Divorce is … Originally, there were no Juvenile Courts. If you’ve ever been to Traffic Court, that’s also a … It’s not Juvenile Court, but it’s a court that the General Assembly invented to take the pressure off of the Circuit Court. Circuit Courts are the trial courts in Virginia. They handle everything. But, they were getting backlogged, so they created two different courts to kind of divert some of the case load from the Circuit Courts.
They got the Traffic Court, they got the Juvenile & Domestic Relations Court. But, those courts don’t have all the same power as a Circuit Court. For example, a Circuit Court has all the tools available that understate law to try any sort of case, typically. The lower courts don’t, they’re missing some of those things. An important part of a divorce case would be division of property.
A Juvenile Court does not have power to divide property. And because that’s typically part of a divorce, they just kept those together.

Jacob Tingen: Right, you mentioned … And this is a little off-topic, but you did mention Traffic Court. Isn’t Traffic Court part of General District Court?

Jonathan Jordan: Yeah, Traffic Court is the other court. I said when the General Assembly created two lower courts essentially, to try to take some of the load off them. So, they created General District Court to handle criminal, traffic, civil-type suits, non-family matters; and the Juvenile & Family Domestic Relations Court to handle family matters.

Jacob Tingen: Yeah, so there’s not just specific Traffic Court. The General District Court is the lower court, designed to handle a lot of these issues that can be done.

Jonathan Jordan: Exactly. In my experience-

Jacob Tingen: Kind of less formally.

Jonathan Jordan: Yeah, most people who are familiar with it would call it Traffic Court, because that would be how they would get involved with that court.

Jacob Tingen: Then there’s also Small Claims Court, which would also-

Jonathan Jordan: Yeah, Small Claims would go through there, over civil matters.

Jacob Tingen: Let’s talk about family law, then. Let’s start with custody of children. What can you tell us about child custody and how that procedure works in Virginia?

Jonathan Jordan: Custody is probably one of the ugliest areas of law that I’ve been exposed to, because the problem that you’re going to find … Let’s say you have two parents, and now they don’t get along. While they were together, while they were getting along, each parent has as much contact with their children as they could possibly want, and maybe even too much. Maybe they were looking for ways to get away from their children.

Jacob Tingen: That is a common problem of parents, yeah.

Jonathan Jordan: When you send them off to daycare, or grandma or whatever, you’re trying … You’re like, “I gotta get away from these guys,” but once you separate, suddenly neither parent typically is seeing much of their child as they’re accustomed to seeing, and they feel it. I don’t know … Even in a case that goes pretty well, you’re automatically, by being separated … And most of the time, you’re going to see your children less. That creates a lot of fighting.
Suddenly, that’s a resource that … You can’t just suddenly invent more time, there’s only so many hours in a day, there’s so many waking hours, kids still have to go to school. And now parents are fighting for these golden moments: Weekends, evenings, summer, of where they can try to maintain some sort of relationship with their children, and be involved. It gets very tough because it’s a zero sum game. What you win, you take from the other.

Jacob Tingen: Right. Let’s talk about how to navigate a child custody issue successfully. What are some lessons learned, or some things that people who may be listening, maybe going through some kind of custody battle, what are some takeaways from somebody whose been through this more than once. Most people only go through custody with just their children, but you go through it and you see lots of different families, lots of different examples. What is child custody? What’s a “Good Fight”? What’s a good custody battle look like, and what are the kinds of things you want to keep an eye out for, for kind of a fair-ish proceeding?

Jonathan Jordan: Well, a good custody battle … I don’t know that there’s a good one, frankly. Successful, I measure success on basically two criteria: What my client wants, and also we’re always … And the whole standard in Virginia is based on the best interests of the child. What is good for the child? Not just what the child wants, because that’s one of the factors. But really, as an adult, intelligent-thinking, reasoning adult looking at it and saying, “What is best for this child? Who should the child be with most of the time? Do we split them? Where do they live? Where do they go to school? Whose making decisions? What religion issues, medical issues,” all those come into it and it becomes very, very complicated.
In my opinion, the best child battle, or child custody battle, is when you have two well-intentioned, involved parents who get together and think not just how much time do I want with my child, but really what is best for this child, outside of what I want. Typically, when that happens, when they can actually speak to each other, at least civilly, we know that relationship’s done. At least when they can come together for the benefit of their children, usually they can come up with a result that’s better than what a court can force on them.

Jacob Tingen: Right.

Jonathan Jordan: Typically, I like to try to negotiate those. Some people say attorneys are lazy, and they try to negotiate. But over and over and over, I see that after we fight it out, and scorched earth both sides, we go to the court, and the court chooses something that’s not well-adapted for the situation.

Jacob Tingen: Yeah, so you’re going to make a better deal than a judge would-

Jonathan Jordan: A lot of-

Jacob Tingen: You can get to a deal.

Jonathan Jordan: Almost … I won’t say every time, but very common, very frequently. I had a case just this week where we had a potential deal on the table that really would have been better, that would have given more time, than what the court allowed.

Jacob Tingen: Right.

Jonathan Jordan: The parties decided to litigate, and really, it ended up worse. It wasn’t as good of a deal, because then you have a judge whose not part of the family, he doesn’t really know these children, he’s been exposed to maybe their lifestyle for two to five hours, depending on the hearing, and suddenly, they’re just coming in playing God, and saying, “This is what’s going to happen. Tough.”

Jacob Tingen: I asked this question, which is a difficult question to answer: What does a good child custody battle look like? And you identified this whole best interest of the child issue. Of course, when there’s an issue of child custody, a relationship has fallen apart, you mentioned that. So, there might be an inclination or a desire to kind of stick it to the other person by winning the child custody battle.
But when you identify things like, “Hold on a minute, and let’s think what’s actually in the best interest of the child,” they need a mother, they need a father. What are those best interest factors that you would look, and that a court would look at, so that people can kind of get an idea of, “Oh, okay, so if I do have a child custody thing, what are the tried and true issues that are going to come up.”

Jonathan Jordan: Those are actually codified in the Virginia law. If you go to Section 20-124. (I think) 3, that’s where you’ll find the best interest factor. There’s 10 of them. Nine of them were very specific things, like whose been with the children, how did the child react, did a parent try to prevent the other parent from having contact, any mental illness, medical diseases, ability to provide, competency issues, how the children are doing, what reasonable preference of a child of suitable age, and intelligence, whether there’s been any history of family abuse.
There’s nine of them, and then number 10 is kind of interesting. Number 10 is kind of a catch-all. It says, “Anything else the judge finds necessary and proper.” So, pretty much anything could potentially be a factor in a child custody dispute, so long as it directly impacts the child. A lot of times, people try to bring in some old, past ugliness, and the question is does it impact the child? If it doesn’t, it’s probably not going to be necessary and proper, and it won’t come in under the last factor, 10.

Jacob Tingen: I do like that approach. That is why it is the law. Let’s look out for the children, that’s kind of the idea, is that mom and dad are split up, so let’s see what we can do to kind of maintain the good stuff for the kids. You’ve identified those best interest factors. Now, when it does come to issues that impact the parents, I’d like to talk about child support, and in particular, if you can address how child custody determinations influence or impact child support in Virginia.

Jonathan Jordan: Yeah, that’s a good question. A lot of times parents separate those two issues … You know, supports about money, custody is about either determining who can make decisions for the child, or where a child lives. But really, there’s some overlap because if a parent isn’t sufficiently involved in the child’s life, for example, doesn’t have visitation or custody at least 91 days, they’re going to be penalized on the child support.
The minimum for a parent to try to get a better deal on … The non-custodial parent, I should say, to get a better deal on support that they need to try to reach the minimum of 91 days. That’s Virginia, and we’re only talking about Virginia law. I think West Virginia was something like 117. So, it varies state by state how much is enough to try to change the support factor. What they’re doing, they’re saying if a child is with a parent a certain amount of time, it’s probable that parent is paying bills, they might have to have a bigger apartment, they might have to furnish the apartment, there’s more food-

Jacob Tingen: Yeah.

Jonathan Jordan: So they actually give them a credit.

Jacob Tingen: They’re already kind of supporting the child in some way.

Jonathan Jordan: So they’re building a credit into the Child Support Guidelines. Typically, when you’re going to fight a support, you want to at least … I mean, I’m sorry, a custody, you want to keep your eye on that support number. Maybe you get an extra week, or an extra couple of days in, so you can get over that line, and free up more money to actually pay bills that you would be incurring by having the child that amount of time.

Jacob Tingen: So there is a bit of strategy, then, when it comes to child custody and child support in that you try to get your client at least 91 days so that the child support burden, if there is one, is lower than it would be otherwise.

Jonathan Jordan: Yes, and frankly … Just take the support issue out of it, and obviously it’s in there, and money is a big part of our lives, and budgeting and all that stuff. But really, if you think about it … If you have a child, if you’re seeing your child less than probably 90-something days a year, you’re starting to slide in your status as a parent, or that relationship with the child. [crosstalk 00:14:31]-

Jacob Tingen: You really should be seeing your child at least 91 days of the year.

Jonathan Jordan: Yeah, you’re becoming more like uncle status, or aunt status, or something like that. That’s why they put that there. You really should be involved in your child’s life and be there as much as you possibly can. Unfortunately, at some point, splitting children up can be too disruptive and actually harms the children, so courts are careful whether they want to split up a school week, or whether they want … They’re trying not to disrupt the life.

Jacob Tingen: Right. About life disruption and sharing custody, and 91 days … These are a lot of tricky issues, but life is not as clean and neat as we’re always going to live in Virginia. What if child custody is determined, and then one of the parents needs to move out of state? How does that impact child custody and child support? Can a mother who has primary custody of the children move to another state? What say does the father have in that, and vice versa. How do these issues work out?

Jonathan Jordan: A judge can actually step in and prevent parents from moving. Once you get the courts involved, the judge can step in and say, “No, you don’t get to move,” or, “You don’t get to have custody if you decide to move.” If you move, tough cookies. [crosstalk 00:15:44]-

Jacob Tingen: … Two different questions. You can always move, but when it comes to the issue of the children-

Jonathan Jordan: Because they don’t care about the parent’s job so much as they care about the best interests of the child. Obviously, there’s going to be some overlap. An unemployed parent is going to struggle to take care of a child, and the courts are going to try to balance those issues.

Jacob Tingen: Right.

Jonathan Jordan: But there’s also the rights of the parent not moving. They were doing everything … Let’s suppose they were doing everything they were supposed to do, and suddenly Parent A says, “You know what? I’m going to Minnesota.” Well, that’s too far to commute, unless you’re making a lot of money, it’s too far to send the children in any sort of-

Jacob Tingen: Back and forth, yeah.

Jonathan Jordan: It becomes a real problem that’s going to disrupt the schedule.

Jacob Tingen: In that scenario, does the child support burden increase even though through no fault of your own, you’re suddenly less able to have the 91 days?

Jonathan Jordan: The child support burden is given by Statute. It’s based on-

Jacob Tingen: So there’s not much wiggle room there [crosstalk 00:16:43].

Jonathan Jordan: I mean, there may be, in some cases, the courts will work something in, but child support is based on the Statute in Virginia. It gives numbers based on the combined gross income of both parents. You get both parents, you take your gross income, you combine them, the guidelines spit out a number. The judge is going to presume … That’s the starting point, well absent some sort of clear proof otherwise, that is how much money needs to be used to support the children.
Then, you take the earning capacity of both parents, and you throw it into this formula, you take how many days each parent has with the child, and the calculator will spit out a number and say this parent owes this much money, this parent owes that much money towards child support. Now, nothing in that calculation directly says well now there’s a cost of commuting to Minnesota however many times.

Jacob Tingen: Right.

Jonathan Jordan: It will calculate some things like medical expenses, reimbursed medical expenses, health insurance, daycare. Those can be calculated into the support number. But really, the cost of commuting isn’t automatically built in.

Jacob Tingen: There’s a lot there to think about when it comes to child support, but as you mentioned, it’s mandated by statute. It is tough to get wiggle room there, and the wiggle room kind of comes from custody arrangements and the shared burden. Is that an appropriate summary?

Jonathan Jordan: There is some wiggle room, there’re exceptions for parents who fall below the … You can get them to get away from the guidelines if a parent is disabled, for example. I’m trying to think of what they are, but-

Jacob Tingen: Like some kind of extenuated circumstance.

Jonathan Jordan: But if they fall into the federal poverty guidelines within a certain percentage of the federal poverty guidelines, the judges are now able to get away from what the guidelines require.

Jacob Tingen: Right.

Jonathan Jordan: Then, there’s always arguments about how much parents really make, about how much daycare really costs-

Jacob Tingen: Those are factual questions, though, right?

Jonathan Jordan: Yeah, those are-

Jacob Tingen: So those are evidentiary.

Jonathan Jordan: That’s where the wiggle room is, because the guidelines are going to spit out a number.

Jacob Tingen: Right. Let’s just kind of take a quick break here. This is Law Talk with Tingen & Williams. If you’re listening in on Facebook Live, we do this every Wednesday at 11:00 a.m. You can call in for a free legal consult at 804-477-1720, or you can just make a comment directly on Facebook and we’ll do our best to get to you and answer that.
Today, we are talking about a lot of family law issues. For the first half of this program, a little more than the first half of this program, we’ve talked a lot about custody and child support, and the interplay between those issues in Virginia. I’d like to spend the last 10 minutes on divorce. Divorce in Virginia … Maybe if you can share any kinds of quirks about Virginia divorce, specifically, or just kind of get us started.
You mentioned earlier that divorce is filed in Circuit Court because it is litigation. It’s different from these other issues, such as custody or child support. Why don’t you start there and just kind of let us know.

Jonathan Jordan: Well, divorce can be very simple, or it can be very complex. A divorce case could be based on fault, it could be simply based on times being separated, living apart, and it can include everything we’ve talked about before. A divorce could include custody, visitation, support, and then of course, it would include dividing up the marital property. It could include dividing up marital debt. It could include spousal support.

Jacob Tingen: Okay. So that’s a lot of words there. I just want to quickly go over something. You mentioned that divorce could include issues of child custody and child support, but earlier you mentioned that the Juvenile & Family Domestic Relations Courts in Virginia handle custody and child support. When those pieces are part of a divorce, they are also handled in Circuit Court, is that correct?

Jonathan Jordan: Yes, it depends on what happens.

Jacob Tingen: Okay.

Jonathan Jordan: If custody has already been litigated prior to going to a divorce, typically the Circuit Court wouldn’t pick that up … I mean, they might because-

Jacob Tingen: The JDR court has already-

Jonathan Jordan: It’s already decided.

Jacob Tingen: Right. Okay. They’ve already made a decision.

Jonathan Jordan: [crosstalk 00:20:51] include and suddenly there’s a big change going on, and the judge … But it would be … I didn’t mention this, custody cases are always open. You’re never done with a custody case, really, until the child ages out. In Virginia, it’s 18 years old.

Jacob Tingen: Right.

Jonathan Jordan: It’s funny, if you file, you petition for a custody case, and then you end it and everything goes well for say five years, and you need to start a custody case again, you don’t file a new Petition for Custody, you file a Motion to Modify to amend the prior order, because the case is still sitting there.

Jacob Tingen: Because the case is there until the child turns 18.

Jonathan Jordan: Exactly.

Jacob Tingen: That’s true in the event of divorce-

Jonathan Jordan: Exactly.

Jacob Tingen: Where custody has already been worked out, and now we’re finally getting around the divorce.

Jonathan Jordan: A lot of times, with a divorce, if custody is already worked out, and they really don’t need to change it, typically the Circuit Court, the Divorce Court, would not deal with that. They would deal with everything else.

Jacob Tingen: Okay.

Jonathan Jordan: The only way you can take a custody case directly to Circuit Court is as part of a divorce.

Jacob Tingen: Okay. Let’s talk … do Circuit Courts get it right more often than the JDR courts, or what do you think?

Jonathan Jordan: I don’t know if I want to-

Jacob Tingen: Or do you not want to publicly comment on that?

Jonathan Jordan: I don’t know if I want to touch that one. No, the Circuit Courts have less experience with those matters. I don’t know … It depends on which side of the case you’re on. But you can tell that they seem to have less patience for these kinds of cases, because they’re also handling ugly felony cases, or handling all the kind of cases that they can [crosstalk 00:22:25].

Jacob Tingen: Right, the Circuit Court sees everything.

Jonathan Jordan: And they’re less expert. They’re like why are you … Sometimes the [inaudible 00:22:30] is, “Why are you giving me this minutia? Let’s just cut to the chase and get this done because I have-”

Jacob Tingen: Get the divorce over with. [crosstalk 00:22:36]

Jonathan Jordan: … Cases going on here.

Jacob Tingen: Let’s talk about some issues that are kind of unique to divorce. There’s the issue of spousal support, you mentioned. I mean, that’s not going to be granted in every single divorce case, right?

Jonathan Jordan: No, actually spousal support can also be granted in Juvenile Court itself. So you can get spousal support in the JDR court as well. But spousal support, it really depends. Judges can grant it … I mean, there’re factors of what judges have to consider when deciding to grant it. Typically, judges are hesitant or reluctant to grant spousal support. When they do grant it, typically, they’ll grant it for a limited amount of time.
What they’re looking at is the duration of the marriage, the standard of living in the marriage, the parties’ capacity to earn in the future. A standard thing … Say you have a stay at home mom, or a stay at home dad. Usually, it’s a mom, dad’s out working, or husband, right? Suddenly, they divorce, and you have the spouse … Even if they were in the job market and were credentialed and extremely well-educated, if they’d been out of the job market long enough, they can’t just jump back in. It’s going to require some work to bring them back up to speed, to get them earning, and finding a job.

Jacob Tingen: So a common scenario of that is … Of course there are lots of ways that people do family, right? But a mom who stayed at home with the kids, graduated from college years ago, but never used the degree or used it maybe just for a couple of years before the family began, and now it’s very difficult for someone like that to jump back into the job market. So, spousal support, in that scenario is appropriate. Is that kind of what you’re saying?

Jonathan Jordan: Yeah, a judge might give … They call it rehabilitative spousal support, or temporary spousal support, and say, “I’ll Award spousal support for four years. You go back to school, you get your ducks in a row, you enter the job market again.”

Jacob Tingen: That’s pretty common, right? That’s not unusual.

Jonathan Jordan: No, it’s not unusual, if that’s the circumstance. But the more common thing is it takes two parents to support most households. Typically, you don’t have a parent really out of the job market as much anymore. It also can happen … Say you have a couple that’s been married 35 years, and talking about the old standard, mom never worked, really, and hasn’t worked in 35 years.
Even though there’re no children in the house, she stayed home, she was the homemaker, and suddenly they’re splitting up and she’s 35 years out of the job market. Frankly, there’s not a lot of time to re-enter the job market before retirement age, or maybe there’re illnesses involved, you’re getting later on in life. Frankly, that might be a spousal support for the rest of her life, essentially.

Jacob Tingen: Just so that we get all those terms out there, because people will be asking questions: Alimony, is that synonymous with spousal support?

Jonathan Jordan: Yeah, they call it spousal support in Virginia, but other states call it alimony.

Jacob Tingen: Right, just to make sure people know what you’re referring to.

Jonathan Jordan: Exactly. Yeah, it’s the same thing.

Jacob Tingen: What are some other issues related to divorce then? So, you’d fight over spousal support or alimony. You’d fight over custody and child support, but do you even have to fight? I mean, aren’t there versions of divorce where it’s not like, “Okay, we haven’t lived together for 10 years. Let’s just get life moving on.”

Jonathan Jordan: There’s absolutely … You do not have to fight. If you can just come together and agree to split things up, and try to do it in a fair way … And it takes two people to reach an agreement, right?

Jacob Tingen: Right.

Jonathan Jordan: You can have one person extremely fair, and the other person a maniac … You’re going to have to go litigate.

Jacob Tingen: You’re going to have to litigate.

Jonathan Jordan: Because you can’t negotiate with maniacs.

Jacob Tingen: That is a life lesson from an attorney, everyone. You can’t negotiate with maniacs.

Jonathan Jordan: When people are asking for the absolute impossible, there’s no way you can possibly comply with that, you’re going to litigate it.

Jacob Tingen: Right.

Jonathan Jordan: One thing … I want to bring out a point. The law in Virginia, as far as splitting up property that was acquired during the marriage, or money acquired during the marriage, Virginia follows the idea of equitable distribution. Now, when most people hear equitable, they think equal.

Jacob Tingen: Yeah, and that’s not necessarily what it means.

Jonathan Jordan: In some states they split things 50/50 or whatever. Virginia does not do that. Equitable means fair. We’re talking about fair from the eyes of the judge.

Jacob Tingen: Yeah, which doesn’t necessarily mean fair.

Jonathan Jordan: Fair could be potentially-

Jacob Tingen: It’s equitable.

Jonathan Jordan: 90% to one, and 10% to the other, because a judge thought it was fair.

Jacob Tingen: Right.

Jonathan Jordan: When they’re doing division of property or say deciding whether to Award spousal support, judges will also factor in whether there was fault. If one party had a lot of cause to the ending of the marriage, the judge is going to factor that in whether they Award support or how they divide the property.

Jacob Tingen: Let’s talk a little about the elements of a fault-based divorce case versus a no-fault based divorce case. Virginia does do both kinds, right?

Jonathan Jordan: Yes, they do.

Jacob Tingen: You can get divorced for no reason, or for some reason. What are some examples of either of those scenarios?

Jonathan Jordan: I’ll tell you. Virginia offers two types of no-fault divorce. What that means is we’re not pointing fingers, even if there was fault, we’re not putting that in front of the court because we don’t want to waste time or money trying to prove fault, which becomes costly and ugly. We don’t care whose fault it is, we just want out. Virginia offers two types.
One, is if you do not have children and you have an agreement on how to divide up all your stuff, Virginia will let you out of your marriage within six months. All you have to do is be separated, apart, for six months, and Virginia will let you out, no-fault. The other option is if you can’t qualify for that … Let’s say you don’t have an agreement, or you have children, you’re automatically … You can’t no-fault in six months, so you just wait 12 months.
You wait for a year to pass, and then you just proceed with your divorce, even though you have children, or even though you couldn’t come to an agreement on how to divide everything. You can still proceed with the divorce saying, “We’re not pointing fingers. We’ve just been apart for the required time. Let us out.”

Jacob Tingen: Those are the no-fault options available, right?

Jonathan Jordan: Yep, those are your two options.

Jacob Tingen: When it comes to fault-based divorce, why don’t we do it on another show, some other time? We’re kind of running out of time here. I just wanted to ask, in terms of the no-fault option, is that pretty uniform throughout the United States, or is that just Virginia?

Jonathan Jordan: I think most states have a no-fault option. I can’t speak to how long. Some of them will let you go immediately, I think. The time limit might matter, but typically, it’s just … If you have a broken marriage, you have a broken relationship, let’s just get you out of it.

Jacob Tingen: Okay. One other question, because I know that people are asking it, do you have to … If you were married in a state other than Virginia, can you get a divorce in Virginia, and how does that work?

Jonathan Jordan: Absolutely. It’s not a problem. It doesn’t matter if you were married in another country, if you were married in another state. All you have to do to get a divorce in Virginia, at least one of the parties, the Petitioner, the person asking for the divorce, has to have lived in Virginia for six months immediately preceding the filing of the case.
The other party doesn’t even have to be in Virginia. They could be anywhere else in the world. That’s fine. I mean, there’re requirements as far as notification, but Virginia has jurisdiction to hear at least the divorce portion of the case, because one of the parties is living in Virginia.

Jacob Tingen: Because one of the parties is under the jurisdiction.

Jonathan Jordan: Now, it can be tricky. If both parties are in Virginia, there’s no problem dividing up the property. If only one party is in Virginia, there’s some technical rules about how much power the court can have over people who don’t have anything to do with Virginia-

Jacob Tingen: Right, have no ties to Virginia, except for the former spouse.

Jonathan Jordan: That can create property issues, but as far as ending the marriage, getting the divorce-

Jacob Tingen: Virginia [crosstalk 00:30:43]-

Jonathan Jordan: There’s no problem that Virginia can divorce you.

Jacob Tingen: Great. Thank you, Jonathan, for coming on again. Always a pleasure to hear from you. That is a brief overview of our family law practice and a lot of the services we provide. Again, you’ve listened to Law Talk with Tingen & Williams. We’re here every Wednesday at 11:00 a.m. You can give us a call at 804-447-1720, or make a comment directly on Facebook.
Also, check us out on YouTube, and iTunes, where we have the Law Talk with Tingen & Williams podcast. You can listen to all of the past episodes, and then again on Facebook and YouTube, view all the past episodes as well. Thank you again for listening in, and we’ll see you next week.

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