The end of a marriage is a difficult and emotionally taxing time. It is important, when going through a separation or divorce, to choose an attorney with a combination of knowledge, experience and sensitivity. The attorneys of Collins & Hyman will respect what you and your family are going through, while vigorously representing your interests in the legal process.
Separation Agreements, also called Property Settlement Agreements or Stipulation Agreements, are used to outline the rights and responsibilities of each party in a separation. These agreements are negotiated to resolve the variety of issues that arise in separation, divorce, custody and support matters. In many cases, reaching an agreement is the best way to avoid expensive litigation as well as to move on to the next phase of life on good terms. However, successfully negotiating and drafting these agreements should only be done by an experienced attorney who is knowledgeable in Virginia divorce and family law. Our attorneys are experienced in drafting and negotiating separation agreements that save clients time, money, anxiety, and stress. We pride ourselves on finding creative solutions when roadblocks appear.
Divorce in Virginia encompasses a wide range of family law issues, including marital property division, child custody and visitation, child support, and spousal support. An understanding of divorce law requires an understanding of a broad range of family law issues and, often, ancillary legal issues such as valuing a business, tax implications and/or dividing a retirement account. Collins & Hyman has extensive experience in handling these complex issues and providing advice to our clients, engaging in firm negotiation with opposing attorneys, and, if appropriate, vigorously litigating the issues in court.
Most divorces involve the equitable distribution of property. Equitable distribution does not necessarily mean each spouse gets 50% of the marital estate. Judges must take into account several factors specifically listed in the Code of Virginia; however, the application and weight of those factors are completely up to the particular judge hearing your case. The attorneys of Collins & Hyman are experienced in discovering what assets your spouse possesses, valuing those assets, and determining the appropriate classification of each asset to maximize your award at the case’s conclusion.
Additionally, if you or your spouse is an active or retired United States military service member, there are special issues that may apply to your case. As such, it is important that your divorce attorney not only understand Virginia divorce law, but how it relates to the laws regarding service members. If you or your spouse is serving or has served in the United States Armed Forces, you could lose out on important benefits if your attorney does not understand these unique aspects of Virginia divorce law and how they apply to your case. The firm’s attorneys have experience guiding clients in military divorces to ensure their military benefits are protected.
Unlike child support, there is no uniform guideline to determine spousal support, although many jurisdictions employ guidelines in Juvenile & Domestic Relations District Court. In Circuit Court support hearings, where support is most often litigated, Virginia law requires that judges consider certain factors in determining a spousal support figure and the length of time the award will continue; however, the law does not state how those factors should be weighed, how to come up with a monthly support amount, or how to come up with an appropriate length of time for the spousal support award to continue. Furthermore, it is often difficult to establish a party’s true income, particularly if that party is self-employed. The attorneys at Collins & Hyman are adept at combing through records, including tax returns and bank records, to establish a party’s true income. Accordingly, it is imperative you have the counsel of an attorney who is experienced in determining an award that is fair to his or her client and justifying such award to opposing counsel and the Court.