Experienced Virginia Divorce and Virginia Child Custody Attorney Serving the Hampton Roads Cities of Norfolk, Hampton, Newport News, Suffok, Portsmouth, Virginia Beach and Chesapeake
Please click on our website which has a wealth of information concerning Virginia divorce, child custody, child support, juvenile delinquency and adoption. The information includes an explanation of the Virginia procedures for getting a divorce, awarding child custody, and fixing the amount of support.
Bob Jeffries & Associates, P.C.
1060 Laskin Road
Virginia Beach, VA 23451
Divorce is simply the termination of marriage. From a legal point of view, the divorce itself is the easiest part. For the people going through it the divorce may be very difficult emotionally but the legalities are quite simple.
We are experienced family law attorneys. We guide our clients through the confusing legal maze they face when they go through a Virginia divorce, Virginia child custody proceedings, an adoption or a criminal case in the Juvenile Court. We regularly appear in both the Juvenile and Circuit Courts of Hampton, Newport News, Norfolk, Chesapeake, Portsmouth, Suffolk, Chesapeake, Virginia Beach, Williamsburg, Isle of Wight ,York County and Poquoson.
Whether your child custody case is in Hampton, Newport News, York-Poquoson, Virginia Beach, Chesapeake, Suffolk, Portsmouth or Norfolk, Bob Jeffries has the knowledge and experience to help you present the strongest possible case on your behalf.
Issues concerning child custody are usually the most emotional of all. It is common for the parent who has custody to try to alienate the children from the other parent. Some parents who have custody try to exclude the other parent from the children's lives completely. Sometimes they do so with good reason such as when the other spouse is dangerous or engaged in criminal activity. Other times, child custody is simply a weapon that one parent wields against the other. Another source of conflict is differences in parenting styles and judgment about what the children should be doing. Perhaps the most difficult issue to face divorced parents is what to do when one wants to move.
These child custody issues seldom come with clean and simple answers. The solutions are often messy and frequently leave one party very dissatisfied. If one parent is reasonable and the other is not, workable compromises may not be possible.
In Virginia, the judge has a lot of leeway in resolving conflicts over child custody. In making those decisions, Virginia law says the judge is required to put the best interests of the child first. A question that we are frequently asked is "at what age is the child permitted to choose which parent to live with?" The answer is that under Virginia's child custody law, the child's preference is a factor the judge can consider but the child's views are not binding on the judge. The older the child is, the more weight their views will be given, but the choice ultimately lies with the judge.
The judge in Virginia isn't limited to the parents when deciding child custody. Section 20-124.2 of the Virginia code allows anyone "with a legitimate interest" to petition for custody of a child. This provision is often invoked by a grandparent when both parents are unfit for one reason or another.
Virginia Child custody cases frequently involve additional participants acting in an official capacity. It is customary for the court to order home studies in which a social worker is sent to the houses of the contending parents. The worker looks at the dwelling, talks with the parent and sometimes the children, and reports what he or she observes.
It is also customary for the court to appoint a guardian ad litem to represent the interests of the children. The authority to make such appointments is granted by Section 16.1-266 of the Virginia Code. The guardian ad litem is a lawyer whose mandate is to represent the "best interests" of the child.
While laudable in concept, this idea frequently diminishes rather than enhances the quality of the decision making. Occasionally, judges will defer so much to the opinion of the guardian ad litem that the lawyer comes close to supplanting the judge as the actual decision-maker. Apart from required courses in the law concerning children, the guardian ad litem is not required to have any special training in child development or methods of child rearing. The lawyer is thus left to fall back on his or her own judgment, which is informed by little more than their own background and what they have learned in the course of their practice.
The question of custody is never permanently settled. Under Virginia's child custody law, the court retains the power to alter the custody arrangements until the child turns 18 or is emancipated.
Whether you're an active duty military service member, spouse or retired from active duty military service, you are probably wondering what steps you should take as you consider a separation or divorce.
Military divorces have some unique circumstances and laws that distinguish them from civilian divorces. Here are five things for military families to think about before filing for divorce in Virginia.
1. Virginia is an equitable property state, meaning marital assets are to be distributed fairly between the spouses, but not necessarily 50-50. Federal law includes certain protections for military insurance, retirement, and survivor benefits. The extent to which these benefits can be allocated to ex-spouses depends on the length of the marriage, the length of the service member's active duty, and the rules for each individual program.
2. Virginia requires one or both spouses to live in Virginia for at least six months (and intend to stay indefinitely) to establish residency before they can file for divorce in the state. The Virginia code makes a specific exception to the "domicile" requirement for military, clarifying that a service member meets the residency requirement as long as he has been stationed in Virginia for at least six months, regardless of his intent to stay in the state.
3. Federal law protects service members from default judgment in lawsuits when they are on duty and therefore cannot properly respond. In Virginia, a service member must be served in person, and divorce proceedings may be postponed for up to 60 days after active duty has ended. However, if a member of the military is anxious to finalize his divorce, he can waive this waiting period at any time.
4. Child and spousal support is a major concern for divorcing military families. However, a soldier's income may be tricky to calculate, since it could include base pay, housing allowance, hazard pay, bonuses, and non-monetary compensation.
5. Although the state of Virginia may have jurisdiction over your divorce case, it does not necessarily have jurisdiction in your child custody matter. These cases must be settled in the state or country the child lives in most of the time. If a child primarily lives abroad, child custody must be left up to the courts in the country he lives in, even if he is a U.S. citizen.
Robert Jeffries is a very experienced lawyer with more than 25 years in active practice. He is a graduate of Dickinson College and the Georgetown University Law Center, where he was an editor of the Georgetown Law Journal. During law school and following his graduation, he spent five years representing criminal defendants in Washington, DC. He then spent ten years in Los Angeles representing individuals and corporate clients in a variety of business litigation matters.
Since 1998 Mr. Jeffries has devoted his practice to Virginia family law. Because of his prior business litigation experience, he is very skilled in helping clients deal with the financial issues that come up in divorce. From quickly assessing the economics of a case to preparing financial exhibits for use at trial, his prior business litigation experience gives his clients a key advantage.
Because so many of the firm's clients are not Virginia residents, Mr. Jeffries has extensive experience with interstate child custody cases and the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act. This experience has enabled him, in appropriate cases, to stop a child custody case from going forward in Virginia and require it to be litigated in the client's home state. In other situations, he has been successful in keeping a child custody case in Virginia where it was to his client's advantage.
Mr. Jeffries is a highly skilled legal writer and very at home making arguments in the Virginia Court of Appeals and the Virginia Supreme Court.
He has always emphasized respect for the firm's clients and delivering maximum value for them. His many years of experience in the courtroom enable him to devise cost-effective strategies for achieving the client's goals.
He is very accessible to his clients. He responds to phone calls and emails promptly. Because he has many clients serving literally all over the world, he is used to taking calls outside of the usual working hours.
Mr. Jeffries is admitted to practice in Virginia, California, New York, and the District of Columbia. He speaks Spanish and Russian fluently.