Addressing Frequently Asked Legal Questions And Concerns
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Can I have child support modified based on my ex-spouse’s new spouse’s income?
By Code, child support is based solely on the two parents’ incomes. The increase in household income due to marriage, by itself, cannot be grounds for child support modification. However, if your ex-spouse quits his or her job thereby becoming voluntarily unemployed and not able to provide their share of the child’s support, a modification may be warranted. If the court is going to deviate from the presumptive child support formula (which it can do if it finds that the application of such guidelines would be unjust or inappropriate in a particular case), then it might be able to take such other income into account under the catch-all factor of the Code for such deviations.
Should I give the at-fault party’s insurance company a recorded statement following an accident where I have been injured?
No. One of the most common mistakes made by people involved in an auto accident is to give a statement, recorded or not, to the at-fault party's insurance company. Insurance companies are in business to make money, so if they can get you on record as stating you do not have any serious injuries before you realize you need continued care, they will save money and you will not receive fair compensation for your needs. If you are injured in an accident, we recommend always talking to an attorney to help you maximize your financial settlement and avoid procedural blunders like talking to the other side's insurance company.
I was in an accident and am now being offered money to pay my medical bills, should I take it?
That depends on what you are actually being offered. Will the offer cover all your incurred and projected medical expenses, lost wages, travel expenses? What about your pain and suffering from the accident? Determining what a fair settlement is can be a complex process. Before you accept an offer, you should contact an experienced personal injury attorney who can help you build a strong and persuasive case using their experience to skillfully negotiate with the insurance company to receive the full compensation your case deserves.
I’ve heard Foreign Divorces are much cheaper and easier. Why wouldn't someone in the military take advantage of this option?
You can get divorces quickly in Mexico, the Dominican Republic, among other places. Getting a divorce where you or your spouse have not established domicile will cost you much more when you have to hire a lawyer to make your divorce legal. Per the U.S. Supreme Court, only a divorce granted in the state which one or both individuals have established legal residence has the jurisdiction to issue such a decree. You wouldn't want to be in the position of committing bigamy after getting re-married because your first marriage wasn't properly ended. I can assist you with a legal Virginia divorce decree while protecting your military benefits.
The driver that hit me received a DUI, can I sue the bar that he was at prior to driving into me?
Not in Virginia. In order to hold a person or a business who serves alcohol responsible for the actions of an intoxicated person, you would have to be in a State that followed Dram Shop Liability laws. Virginia is one of only a few states that do not follow such laws. (Dram refers to the old term by which alcohol was measured). While states like Virginia feel the individual should be responsible for their own actions, there are many organizations like MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Drivers) that argue these laws reduce alcohol-related crashes and serve a similar purpose of responsibility to the establishment that did not reasonably cut them off when obviously drunk or call them a cab.
My Spouse is in the military and deployed; will this delay our divorce proceedings?
The Servicemember's Civil Relief Act allows suspension of a civil action involving deployed service members until they are home and able to fairly participate. However, servicemembers can waive their right to delay proceedings, thereby allowing the finalization of your divorce while they are deployed.
Is there a direct relationship between the severity of the car accident and the seriousness of the injury?
No. Minor car accidents often result in little or no injury, while major accidents usually cause major injuries, but the reverse can also be true. There are many stories of people walking away from horrible crashes and conversely of people suffering a lifetime of pain from what looks like a minor accident. You cannot judge someone's injuries by merely looking at the vehicle damage; however, insurance companies will often try to do just that. Professional documentation of your injuries and health status are important when filing an injury claim. It is important that you be seen by a medical professional to determine the degree of injury you may have suffered.
How long do I have to pay child support?
Unless there is an agreement between the parents in place, child support is statutorily paid until a child reaches age 18 or until that child is no longer a full-time high school student, not self-supporting, and living at home or 19, whichever comes first. The courts may also order the continuation of support for any child over the age of 18 who is severely and permanently mentally or physically disabled, unable to live independently and support him or herself, and resides in the home of the parent seeking or receiving child support. See information on how support is determined.
Does being (or having a spouse) in the Military make a difference in my Divorce?
For military families, it is vital that you have an experienced Virginia domestic relations attorney in your corner. Few lawyers understand the unique issues that military families face when dealing with a family law matter. We grew up in this area and our office is located in Tidewater. This, coupled with our extensive experience with these matters, is an advantage in military family law cases.
I’ve been in a car accident, what do I do?
The first thing you should do when in an accident is to make sure you are physically O.K. The best rule of thumb is “better safe than sorry.” If you are in pain, address it immediately. Unfortunately, because legal action is often necessary to address the damage caused by an auto accident, everything you do or say after an accident may be relevant to your case. So, there are a few tips to remember beyond getting the medical attention you need at the scene should it be necessary:
- Do not discuss the accident with anyone at the scene other than a police officer. This is important because sometimes you might believe you were at fault (or partially at fault) and you may not be. If you say something at the time that indicates that you were at fault, this may be held against you later (and, again, the accident might not have been your fault at all).
- Take pictures of the cars and the scene. Most people have cameras on the phones and the best evidence of the condition of the cars or the scene of the accident is at the time of the accident.
- Do not talk to the other driver’s insurance company. They will most likely contact you and ask for you to give them a statement, you do not have to do so. Politely decline. The other driver’s insurance company will be seeking any information it can to minimize the payout and you might say something that hurts your case without realizing it. The best course of action is to decline and indicate that you plan on hiring an attorney. Once you hire counsel, the insurance company will deal with us, not you.
- Make sure you are 100% healthy after the accident. Even if you did not feel immediate pain at the scene of the accident, you might have been injured. People often hear of Whiplash, which is a layman’s term for Cervical Acceleration-Deceleration. The pain from this can become evident the day after (or even later) an accident. If you have any health concerns following an accident, be sure to see a doctor about it.
- If you are injured, call an attorney. Back to the principle “better safe than sorry,” it is always best to get professional advice as to whether it makes sense to hire counsel for an accident. Sometimes you do not need one because of the minor nature of your injuries, but often times having an attorney on your side allows for you to recover more money to compensate you for an accident which is not your fault.