Addressing Frequently Asked Legal Questions And Concerns
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Should I settle my personal injury case from my accident last week?
No. You should not settle until you have finished your medical treatment and the doctor says you are healed. You may not be fully aware of the extent of your injuries or how much medical treatment you will actually require. If you settle too soon, you take a risk that the settlement amount will not be enough to cover your needs. Keep in mind that in Virginia, you have 2 years from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit, so you have time to ensure everything is 100% done. Consult a lawyer well before time runs out if you think treatment will take longer than 2 years.
I have accurate negative information on my credit report but it's 11 years old, doesn't this ever come off my report?
Yes. A credit reporting agency can report most accurate negative information for seven years and bankruptcy information for 10 years. After the appropriate time period, as laid out in the Fair Credit Reporting Act, has passed, the negative information cannot be reported anymore.
Can I change custody/visitation arrangements after the divorce is final?
Yes. Custody and visitation are always modifiable; however, you must prove a material change in circumstances before getting to any changes (which the court will then look at the best interests of the children as to any new arrangement). What constitutes a “material change” varies widely and is case-specific, but some examples of likely qualifying changes are if the other parent has a substance abuse problem, is neglecting or abusing the children, has become seriously physically or mentally ill and is no longer able to care for the children, if there is a significant lack of supervision when with the other parent, or any major change in the situation requiring attention. Do not settle for verbal agreements between the other parent, they are not legally valid. Once a court order is in place, you need a modifying order entered by the court to make any changes enforceable by the court. You can certainly agree to one-time or temporary changes to visitation or custody, but without a replacement order, the other parent can dishonor any agreement reached.
Can I change the child support requirements after the divorce is final?
Yes – child support is always modifiable; however, you must prove a material change in circumstances before getting to recalculation. Qualifying changes vary widely but can include an increase or decrease in either parent’s income or a seriously ill child (physically or mentally) who needs treatment. Do not settle for verbal agreements between the other parent, they are not legally valid. Once a court order is in place, you need a modifying order entered by the court to make any changes to child support.
I have disputed items on my credit reports, but the credit reporting agencies will not remove them, can I take legal action against them?
Yes. Inaccurate, incomplete or unverifiable information must be removed or corrected, usually within 30 days. Under the Fair Crediting Reporting Act (“FCRA”), credit reporting agencies must investigate your dispute and unless verified by the reporting creditors (called “furnishers” under the FCRA), they must remove the items from your file. The furnishers must investigate when contacted by the credit reporting agencies. If either the agencies or the furnishers fail to do as required by the FCRA, you can sue them.
I was in a minor car accident, but I feel fine. Do I need to see my doctor?
Yes. You should see your doctor right away and let him know what happened, along with any problems you notice, no matter how minor they seem. Sometimes it takes a few days before you really start feeling the effects of a car accident. If you don’t see your doctor immediately, some insurance companies may try to claim that your injury stemmed from an unrelated event after the accident. Better safe than sorry when dealing with your health.
Is adultery a crime in Virginia?
Yes. With all of the social changes over the last century, many people are surprised to learn that adultery is still a crime in Virginia. Having an affair can not only ruin a marriage but it is also a class 4 misdemeanor. That means that it is a crime punishable by a fine and the stigma of having a conviction. Adultery may also be a crime under military law, depending on the circumstances.
My ex-spouse has a court order to pay off a joint debt, but he won’t pay it. Does this damage my credit?
Yes, as long as your name is on the account or loan. If possible, get the debt entirely in your ex-spouse's name. Transfer or consolidate balances on loans and credit cards. If your divorce has already been finalized, you might be able to show the lender your divorce decree and have your name removed from the loan (if the divorce decree states that your ex is responsible for paying the debt); however, this is not likely. If the lender won’t remove your name, ask your attorney about taking your ex to court for failure to abide by the existing court order.
If I remarry, can I still receive child support from my child’s biological parent?
Yes. Your marital status has no immediate impact on getting child support. In fact, your spouse’s income isn’t part of the presumptive child support guidelines at all when calculating the amount of support to be paid by the noncustodial biological parent. However, if your new spouse adopts your child, then the other biological parent’s support would cease, as his/her rights will have been terminated.
I have custody of my daughter's children (my grandchildren), can I collect child support from their father?
Yes. If you have legal custody, you are entitled to support and can petition the court to award support from the father as well as from your daughter.