Saturday, July 10, 2010

Getting a Divorce in VA Tips

If you plan on getting a divorce in VA, there are a few things you'll need to know about the process. By taking the time to learn what is needed, you can save yourself a lot of trouble down the road. Below, we'll discuss some tips for getting divorced in Virginia.

There are two types of divorce; contested and uncontested. If your divorce is contested, it means that your spouse does not want to get a divorce, and will most likely end up fighting you in court. If your divorce is uncontested, it means your spouse agrees and also wants to get divorced. In Virginia, with an uncontested divorce, you'll need an agreement of separation signed by both you and your spouse.

A permanent divorce in Virginia is called a "divorce a vinculo matrimonii," or 'from the bonds of marriage.' You'll need solid grounds to get the divorce, and in Virginia those grounds consist of adultery, felony conviction, cruelty, abandonment, or voluntary separation. For a voluntary separation, the time is six months with a written agreement and no children.

If there are children, the time will be closer to a year. If the divorce is uncontested, this will go a lot more smoothly. Most of the time, the grounds for divorce is voluntary separation. With another type of grounds, you may be required to submit proof to the judge. For instance, with a felony conviction, court papers or arrest reports would most likely suffice. However, with grounds like adultery, the evidence may be a little trickier to obtain. Speaking with an attorney can help you in this area.  It's important to speak to a divorce attorney in Virginia to be sure that your rights are covered and that your best interests are being taken into consideration.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

What are Mediation and Arbitration Services?

If you're going through a legal battle, or foresee yourself going through a legal battle in the near future, arbitration or mediation services might help. Both of these options are often low-cost, sensible ways to solve conflicts and disputes without spending a ton of money or spending months in a court room. It's important to understand what these services are, in case you find yourself in need of them in the future.

What is Mediation and Arbitration?

Rather than going into a court of law to battle out certain issues, you can choose to go through mediation or arbitration. This is what happens: a third-party or mediator will listen to both parties explain the situation and their desires. The mediator has been trained to diffuse situations and help both parties come to a sensible solution that will make both sides happy. This can keep tempers from running hot and can keep individuals from taking actions that they will regret.

Benefits of Mediation and Arbitration Services

With mediation or arbitration, it's easy to save a lot of money because you don't need attorney services, even though some individuals choose to keep their attorneys. In addition, you'll often save a lot of money in court costs. Rather than having a long, drawn-out battle, you can get solutions sooner. With a calmer atmosphere, there’s no need to go through the stress and trauma that you may have to go through in a courtroom. This is beneficial to you, the other party, your family, and your health.

Many people use mediation or arbitration for divorce rather than dragging their families into a difficult court battle. Not only is there the potential to save a lot of money, but there is the potential to save a lot of time and heartache.

Mediation and arbitration are great alternatives to nasty legal battles.

Using a Mediator for Divorce

If you plan on getting a divorce, you might want to consider using the services of a mediator. By doing so, you can save yourself a lot of time and a lot of money. In addition, mediation often keeps situations calmer and much less stressful than traditional divorces in a courtroom.

What is Mediation?
Rather than going to a regular courtroom and battling it out with attorneys, mediation takes place in a separate place with a third party. The third party, or mediator, will listen calmly to you and your spouse, and will work to keep the situation very calm. This helps you and your spouse come to an agreement that you will both appreciate. Mediation can often lead to compromise that is often not realized in a stressful court of law.

Do You Need Attorneys?
You actually do not need attorneys with mediation. You get the chance to make your own decisions rather than allowing a judge to make those decisions for you. However, you do have the ability to retain your attorney if you prefer. Mediation is not about tricking you into things, but about helping you and your spouse come to compromises that really work.

How Long Does the Process Usually Take?

Many mediators recommend at least a few sessions that can last a couple of hours. This will give you the opportunity to discuss all issues at hand and make decisions based on you and your spouse’s desires. If custody issues and child support issues need to be discussed, it could take a little longer than this. However, it’s often worth it because there is much less stress involved.

Mediation can be a wonderful opportunity to part amicably rather than going through a nasty battle that can be traumatic and stressful.

Can You Get an Online Divorce?

In this day and age, individuals can do many things online - from purchasing a car to hiring an employee. IN fact, even things that would normally be a lot of trouble (such as divorce), can be done online. There are a few differences, though. Below, we'll discuss online divorces and how they work.

Online divorces are often much cheaper than hiring an attorney in your hometown and going to court. In fact, with some sites, you can get a divorce for just a few hundred dollars. This gives you the opportunity to save a lot of money with your divorce. Some websites require the divorce to be uncontested, so you need to research this before making up your mind.

Getting an online divorce does not mean that everything can be done from the comfort of your computer chair. Your spouse will most likely need to be served divorce papers, and there are forms that you will have to file with the court in your area. You may also need to discuss things like child support and custody issues with the judge or your spouse. Getting an attorney is recommended, although you don’t necessarily need one. Someone to fight in your corner (especially if your spouse has an attorney) is never a bad idea.

Usually, you'll give your information to the online staff and they'll fill out the forms you need in order to obtain your divorce. You'll file these forms at your local divorce court, and you'll appear before the judge in order to complete the divorce process. It's important to research any website that claims they can help you get a divorce before you choose one. By taking the time to research any site fully, you can be sure that you will have made the right decision.

Alternative Dispute Resolution Tips

When you are facing a potential dispute, there are a hundred things running through your mind. How to protect yourself, what steps to take, and what you should know are just a few of the things you might be considering. You might even be prepared for a lengthy court battle just to get your point across. However, there are alternatives to spending weeks or possibly months in court. Below, you’ll get some great alternative dispute resolution tips.

Think with a Clear Head

Sometimes, it’s easy to get too close to the problem to really see how you can fix it. Take a little time out for yourself to get your head cleared and to think about a reasonable solution. For instance, if you’re being threatened with divorce, ask your spouse for some time to think. Rather than spending every minute worrying about what’s going to happen, take some time to do something that puts you at ease. This will allow you to escape the stress and frustration for a while so that when you come back to the problem, you have a clear head.


Rather than hiring one of the most savvy attorneys in your area and digging your heels in for a rough court case, consider mediation. Especially with divorces, mediation is a huge benefit and a wonderful alternative to court. Not only can you spare yourself and your family the trauma and emotions of a nasty court battle, but you have the potential to save yourself a lot of money. In addition, you and the other party get to come to agreements that make both of you happy instead of relying on a judge you don’t know to make huge decisions about your life.

Mediation can be very beneficial, and since the atmosphere is usually much calmer than a court case, you won’t go through all the stress and trauma. In addition, mediators are trained to diffuse situations so that you and the other party can think clearly and come to reasonable compromises. You should know that attorneys aren’t necessarily required with mediation. Although many people decide to retain their personal attorneys, you can actually use mediation to keep from having to hire an attorney.

Talk to the Other Party

After things have cooled off, spend some time trying to talk to the other party. No matter what the dispute is about, you should be able to look at it from their point of view. They should try to do the same, ideally. This can give you both the opportunity to come up with compromises that benefit you both – and can often prevent the need for a lengthy battle in the courtroom.

Disputes happen all over the place, and very often. However, if you spend some time really thinking about alternatives, the chances are that you can both walk away unharmed and without hard feelings. Considering the options above can allow you to do this and still be satisfied with the outcome of the dispute.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Tips for Getting Past the Pain

A divorce can be the most stressful event of your life. Long, drawn out divorce proceedings can take a toll on you physically, mentally, and emotionally. In addition you are experiencing feelings of hurt, anger, and betrayal; all while mourning the loss of your marriage. Many think that as soon as the divorce is finalized you can take a big sigh of relief and simply get on with your life. For any divorcee, they know that this is not as easy as it sounds. You need to treat yourself with care. You are grieving the loss of a marriage and a familiar way of life. Many divorcees have had the added stress of moving, finding a job, and adjusting to a new financial outlook. All of these factors are internalized and can negatively affect your body and mind.

Therefore, it is critical that you take steps to take care of yourself post divorce. Some of these may seem like obvious steps. However, they are often overlooked and ignored during this painful and stressful phase of your life. Follow the tips below to reclaim your body, mind, and spirit.

Tip #1 – Nurturing
Every day, mark on your calendar time in your schedule for yourself to relax. This can mean a yoga class, time to meditate, a long bubble bath, flipping through a favorite magazine, or talking a long walk with your dog. Whatever activity helps you to feel calm and relaxed should be done daily.

Tip #2 – Listen to Your Needs
Post divorce is the best time to speak up for yourself and get what you want. You are single, in control, and the maker of your own destiny. Don’t feel guilty for asking what you want, or receiving it.

Tip #3 – Routine is Refuge
Going through a divorce can affect many other aspects and relationships in your life. This can be very disruptive and you can feel lost at sea. Sticking to a routine can help you reclaim some comfort and reliability in your life.

Tip #4 – Keep it Simple
Post divorce is probably the worst time to make a major life changing decision. Embarking on a new career or business venture, or moving to another state can be overwhelming. You may think you are ready, but your emotions need to time to settle after going through a divorce.

Tip #5 – Avoid Crutches
It is easy to turn to crutches to help you through the stressful and painful divorce process. Post divorce, it is important that you say no to these damaging habits. Avoid excess alcohol, drug use, or overeating as coping strategies. These are unhealthy habits and will only cause you different problems.

Tip #6 – Embrace your New Life
Post divorce can be a very exciting time if you let it be. You have complete control. You do not need to consult a partner. Enjoy it! Take the dance class you have always wanted to, start a new hobby that sounds enticing, or join your local gym. Explore opportunities you have always wanted to but never found the time to.

A divorce is certainly a life changing event. But let it change your life for the better. Following the above tips will help you come out on the other side of your divorce a better person in a better place.

Photo: Salvatore Vuono

Divorce Coping Strategies

When you first got married you probably never though the word “divorcee” would be used to describe you. Most of us get married under the assumption that we will spend the rest of our lives with the person beside us in the aisle. The reality is that things don’t always work out. People change, life happens, people grow apart. Sometimes, two people were never quite right for each other but they tried to make it work. Sometimes, one partner strays or gives up on the marriage. Whatever the circumstance, divorce happens. While divorce can be very hard emotionally and mentally, know that you will come out on the other side. Below are some tips on how to overcome divorce.

#1 – The Grieving Process
It is important to understand the end of a marriage can feel like the death of a relationship and should be treated as such. Regardless of the circumstances of your divorce, recognize that you do need to time to grieve the loss of your marriage. The grieving time needed will vary from person to person. Only you know when it is appropriate to put your marriage and divorce behind you and move on. That means that your healing has begun.

#2 - Acceptance
No, your marriage did not work out. You could not hold onto and force it to work. Many emotions are expended in trying to “go back” in time and make a failed marriage work. One of the best ways to overcome a divorce is to accept it. Accept that your marriage did not work out and there is nothing you can do about it. Do not place blame on your spouse, or blame yourself. The simple act of acceptance will help you cope with a divorce.

#3 – Don’t Neglect You
A divorce proceeding and settlement can be drawn out and fraught with an array of emotions and stress. During this process, it is important to not neglect yourself. Stay healthy in your eating habits and continue to exercise. Stay healthy mentally by meditating, reading a good book, or enjoying time with friends and family. Indulge yourself and your body and make yourself your top priority.

#4 – This is Not a Pity Party
During a divorce it is easy to be overcome by feelings of inadequacy, low self-esteem, guilt, and embarrassment. But a divorce is not a pity party and don’t let it become one. Keep a positive outlook on life and remember that good things lay ahead for you.

#5 – Add the Fun Back In
A great way to overcoming divorce is to add the fun back into your life. For months or even years you have been on an emotional rollercoaster – which is no fun at all. Relax, let your hair down, and have some fun. Join a dance class, take a girls trip, or try a new hobby. There has never been a better time in your life to re-invent yourself. Why not have fun doing it?

#6 – Don’t be Afraid to Seek Help
If you are having a tough time emotionally after your divorce, acknowledge that you don’t have to do everything on your own and help is available. Seek professional help from a therapist or counselor that specializes in divorce.

All of these tips will help you overcome your divorce and move on with your new life!

What to Do if You're Depressed

Going through a divorce can be harrowing. The emotional, financial and mental stress alone can make the entire divorce process harder. Many think that once the judge has signed the final divorce papers, things will get easier. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. Experiencing depression after a divorce is a common occurrence. But there is help available to you.

The entire separation and divorce process can be a very trying time emotionally. You may experience everything from anger, guilt, hurt, betrayal, and disbelief. Depending on the circumstances surrounding your divorce these emotions can vary. Not everyone has time to sort through these emotions during the divorce proceedings. And once a divorce is finalized, the mourning period for your marriage may begin, as well as uncertainty about what your future holds.

If you are an emotionally and mentally strong person, the healing process will be easier. In fact it may begin right after the divorce is finalized. You may be eager to put this part of your life to rest and see what possibilities await you. You may have divorced yourself emotionally from your marriage long ago. But not everyone experiences this easy transition.
If you have just finalized your divorce and find yourself unwilling to accept the end of your marriage you may be suffering from depression. You may feel stuck in your life and have no idea where to go and who to turn to. Regardless of the circumstances of your divorce you should not feel embarrassed about these emotions. Seeking the help of a qualified therapist or counselor can provide you the relief you need.

With today’s resources you can find exactly the type of therapy that fits your needs, budget, and your lifestyle. Perhaps you only need a session or two of life coaching. Or your feelings may be deeper and you may need extended counseling on relationships and yourself as a person. You can find a therapist to help you with your specific issues. Whatever your needs, know that help is available to you. You just have to know where to look.

You can seek out the services of an individual therapist or counselor. These can be found in the phone book, or a referral from your general practitioner. If the idea of one-on-one counseling does not appeal to you, consider finding a support group. A local church or synagogue may already sponsor a group for surviving divorce. Local community organizations are also great resources in locating support groups. Support groups are usually much less expensive than one-on-one counseling, although you should contact your health insurance company to see what coverage you have. Some therapists do offer sliding scales based upon your ability to pay.

For many divorcees feelings of shame, guilt, and depression are common. There is no reason you should live with these feelings or feel shame in seeking treatment. This is your opportunity to seize control over your life and your emotions. This is part of the new journey you are embarking on after your divorce. Embrace it, do not fear it.

Tips for Getting Your Finances in Order

If you are going through a divorce or beginning to start the proceedings you may have overlooked all the financial details of a marriage and divorce. But the financial details will not go away and a divorce can only muddy the waters. A large portion of divorce proceedings focuses on dividing assets and finances. Protect yourself so you get your fair share. Below are ten financial steps everyone should take when going through a divorce.

#1 – Get a copy of your credit report

You should request a copy of your credit report from all three credit reporting agencies: Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. This will succinctly show you all outstanding debts, balances, and payments being held in your name. Remember that it is possible your spouse has opened an account with your name on it without your knowledge. These credit reports will give you a clear financial picture of where you stand.

#2 – Open your own accounts
It is important to open up accounts in your name only before the divorce proceedings start. This makes it easier to do so. You should open up your own checking account, savings account and brokerage accounts. Apply for a credit card held in your name only.

#3 – Close the joint accounts
Divorces can take several months or more. During this time you can protect yourself from future financial liabilities by closing all joint accounts such as bank accounts and credit cards. Do so in writing and keep a copy for your records. Ask the bank to report the account as “closed by the customer” so it will not negatively report on your credit report.

#4 – Keep your assets in your name
You will have assets that you owned before you got married that are in your name. This can include your vehicle, real estate, inheritance, gifts, etc. Make sure you keep these assets separately. If you transfer them into joint accounts you may lose them.

#5 – Should you sell the house?
In past years, most women tried to keep the family home above all else. They would get blind to what they might be giving up to keep the house. It is more prudent to consider selling the family home. You can then divide the proceeds according to the divorce terms, often without paying any capital gains on the sale of the home.

#6 – Update your beneficiary
It is imperative that you individually change the beneficiary on any insurance policy, your will, trusts, pension plans, etc. The divorce will not do this for you. You will need to contact each company, delete your spouse’s name, and change the beneficiary in writing. You may even want to change coverage amounts while you are updating policies.

#7 – Get your name back
You are divorcing him, why keep his name? You can reclaim your maiden name by showing your divorce document to the proper agencies. This would include your driver’s license, passport, and social security number. You can then begin changing your name at doctor’s offices, insurance policies, schools, etc. You will also need to fill out a new W-4 or other proper tax form so your new name is recorded properly with the IRS.

#8 – Social Security
If you are of social security age, 62 currently, or close, you should contact the Social Security Administration. If you are 62 and have been married for a minimum of 10 years and have not remarried you may qualify for benefits based upon your ex-spouses record. This can apply even if he has not applied for benefits. This can also apply in cases of raising a child younger than 16.

#9 – Health insurance
If you were covered medically under your spouse’s insurance you can COBRA your insurance under the same plan for up to 18 months. This can help buy you time until you find your own health insurance coverage.

#10 – Get advice
Whether you will be receiving monthly alimony or one lump sum payment, you should seek advice from a financial planner or accountant. They can help you form a financial plan and budget to successfully live your new life!
All of these tips will help you live through the financial burden a divorce can be. Follow them and you can still come out ahead.

Divorce Tips for Women

If you are a woman considering divorce, you should make some preparations before actually filing the papers. By preparing yourself and taking a few proactive steps, the entire divorce proceedings will run much more smoothly. Divorces have many caveats and are fraught with misstep, but there are things you can do to protect yourself. Below are some tips for any woman to follow if they are considering filing for divorce.

Tip #1 – Paperwork
If you are considering filing for divorce it is essential to gather up all of your paperwork first. Some women already have a copy of everything or currently maintain the household paperwork. Others have had no part of the running of the household. Whatever your situation, you need to find the following documents and make a copy of them for your records; bank account statements, credit card statements, investment statements, retirement account statements, mortgage statements, and tax returns for the previous three years. It is a good idea to have documentation of any other assets or debts you each have individually or in both your names.

Tip #2 – Finances
Before beginning the divorce process, it is important to know where you stand financially. You can do this by running a simple asset and debt comparison. This will list the assets held by your and your spouse against any debts outstanding by you and your spouse. Assets would include equity in your real estate holdings, investment accounts, and savings accounts. Your can then deduct the total amount of your debts from the total amount of your assets for a clear view of where you stand financially. This net worth is the true picture of what is actually divided in a divorce proceeding.

Tip #3 – Find a Lawyer
It is also essential to begin your search for an attorney to represent you throughout the divorce proceedings. A divorce attorney can also help guide you during these first stages of the divorce process. They can give advice, resources, and provide you with your options throughout the process. Many women wait until their spouse has already hired a divorce attorney, but then you are already at a disadvantage.

Tip #4 – The IRS
Prior to filing for divorce, and throughout the proceedings, it is important that you remain current on your taxes. This would include any outstanding filing that needs to be done, or any estimated payments or tax installment payments that need to be made. The IRS can hold up the entire divorce process if you fall behind. If you suspect your spouse is not filing the taxes properly you can file an amended return as a married person who is filing separately from their spouse. Your accountant and divorce attorney can help you with these details.

Tip #5 – Insurance
Insurance is often overlooked during the beginning stages of a divorce. You should gather up information on your health insurance, life insurance, vehicle, and any disability insurance you may have. These policies are probably held jointly with your spouse, and spouses are often listed as beneficiaries. Prior to filing for a divorce you should change over your policies to your name and update beneficiary information.

Having all of the details in place prior to filing for divorce will make the entire process smoother. Unpleasant surprises will be much less likely to crop up in regards to these financial matters. This will also give you more time to devote to your emotional and mental health during the proceedings. If you have children this will also free up your time to devote the time needed to help them through the divorce process. Preparing yourself will make it easier to complete an amicable divorce.