Divorce Child Custody Virginia Maryland FAQs Fairfax Richmond Beach Manassas
DIVORCE ISSUES IN VIRGINIA & MARYLAND
Our Maryland & Virginia attorneys are frequently asked questions about different divorce issues in Virginia & Maryland. We hope that the information you find herein answer some of your basic questions regarding divorces in Virginia & Maryland. After you read this, if you wish to talk to our Virginia lawyers or Maryland lawyers about a Maryland or Virginia divorce, please feel free to call us at 888-437-7747. We are here to help you and fight for you if necessary.
The lawyers of SRIS, P.C. have client meeting locations in the following states :
- Virginia: in Northern Virginia - Fairfax & Manassas; in Central Virginia - Richmond; in the Hampton Roads/Tidewater Area - Virginia Beach; in Western Virginia - Lynchburg.
- Maryland - Rockville & Baltimore.
Please click on the state, if you wish to read some of the family laws regarding divorce law in:
The Separation of the Parties In Virginia & Maryland
As a general rule, parties cannot be deemed to be living separate and apart with the intent of remaining permanently separate and apart if they are both residing in the martial residence. If either spouse wants a divorce, the odds are, they are going to get a divorce. The real question is on what terms is the party desiring the divorce going to get it. If your spouse wants a divorce and wants you to move out of the marital home, perhaps refusing your spouse’s demands may be in your best interests. Refusing to move out may cause your spouse to agree to your terms for the divorce. Ultimately, the party who wants a divorce the most is the one who is willing to agree to almost any terms to get a divorce. Keep this in mind as you try to negotiate a property settlement and custody of the child(ren)
One caveat we always tell our clients is: the threat or possibility of danger of remaining in the marital home. Nothing is more important than being safe. If the other party has a history of physical violence or you have reason to believe that if you do not move out, the other party will hurt you, then you probably should leave.
The person who leaves the marital home without an express agreement that the parties have mutually agreed to separate may suffer some dire consequences in court. If you leave the marital residence, the Court may award custody of the children to the parent staying in the marital residence. This award of custody is initially awarded pending the final divorce hearing. However, as a general rule, divorce courts are averse to change the status quo. Thus, the parent who received the initial award of custody is the person who is most likely going to be the primary physical custodian of the child(ren). Additionally, the party leaving the marital home may be accused of abandoning the marital home. Keep in mind, that if you leave the marital home and don’t try to see your children frequently, this too may have negative consequences. During the pending divorce action, the visitation you have with your child(ren) may be dramatically limited. The party staying in the home may be awarded exclusive use and possession of the marital residence. The bottom line is what you do at the start of the separation process of the divorce will most likely have a long term impact as to how your divorce turns out. This is one of the main reasons you need excellent counsel right from the start from an experienced divorce attorney who almost exclusively handles contested divorces. Please keep in mind that divorce attorneys who practice other types of law are probably not as up to date with the new divorce laws that the courts have recently ruled upon. So it is very important that the divorce lawyer you hire to assist you with your divorce in Virginia, Maryland or Massachusetts, almost exclusively practices only family law.
The financial situation of the parties in Maryland & Virginia
If you want to ensure that the marital assets are not wasted by the other party, make sure you are in control of all financial accounts and credit cards. Also, make sure you are in control of any form of credit that you may become liable for if used by the other party. Taking control is very easy. Simply transfer all assets of the marriage to a completely new and separate account that only you have access to. As a law professor once said, “it is a lot easier to give than to get.” The person who controls all the assets negotiates from a great position of strength. Remember a contested divorce can be costly and very few excellent attorneys work for free.
Things not to do during the separation in Virginia & Maryland
DO NOT DO THINGS YOU WILL BE EMBARRASSED ABOUT IF IT COMES OUT DURING THE TRIAL.
Try not to date anyone. We understand that when you are going through a divorce, you may be emotionally upset and want solace. However, what you do during the separation may affect how the Court decides custody of the child(ren), if custody is at issue. Also, if you spend marital assets (property, money, etc. accumulated during the marriage) on your new “friend”, this may affect how the divorce Court determines the ultimate distribution of marital property. The Law Offices of SRIS, P.C. is here to help you. Listen to us and we will do our best to make this difficult time in your life as smooth as possible.
How does the legal aspect of the divorce start Virginia & Maryland?
The first step is to file a pleading asking for a divorce. This is a legal document requesting the Court to grant you a divorce. Your spouse will then be served with this document by either a law enforcement authorized to serve process or a private process server. Generally, we prefer to use a private process server if we believe the party being served with a divorce is going to try and avoid service. Once the initial divorce papers are served, then your spouse has to determine how badly they are going to fight the divorce. Most people after being served with divorce papers think they have to get the nastiest divorce lawyer in town. This is a mistake. All this is going to do is end up costing both parties a lot of money and help put the nasty lawyer’s child through college. We recommend our clients to try and talk to the other spouse in a civil manner and attempt to reach a settlement. Before you go and talk to your spouse, we will advise you as to what a fair settlement is and what you can expect if you go to trial. If your spouse is reasonable and your spouse listens to your proposal, then he or she may agree or ask for time to go talk to their lawyer. Again, if and it is a big IF, the lawyer is reasonable and willing to give good advice to their client, both parties may be able to settle most of the divorce issues, if not all of the issues. However, if the other side chooses to be unreasonable in their demands regarding the divorce, there is only one option. GO TO COURT.
What to expect when you come in for your consultation in Virginia & Maryland?
When you talk with a SRIS, P.C. lawyer about your divorce in Virginia or Maryland, try to have an idea as to the value of the separate and marital assets and liabilities. Also, try to have an idea as to how you wish to have custody resolved if you have child(ren).
What will we talk about during our first consultation in Virginia & Maryland?
First and foremost, we are here to help. You can count on us to be honest with you. We are not the type of lawyer who tells a client what they want to hear so that they can be hired. We will do our best to make the process as easy as possible, both financially and emotionally. We will listen to you and help you identify what is in your best interests. We will not aggressively promote going to court. This does not mean we are scared of trying cases. We simply do not want you to incur unnecessary costs. However, if your spouse is unreasonable or simply nasty and bitter, then we will gladly take the matter to court. Our goal is to help you get a fair resolution and get a divorce.
To settle or not settle in Virginia & Maryland?
No one can force you to settle. Only you can determine if a divorce settlement is acceptable.
What can I expect once the divorce process starts in Virginia & Maryland?
One of the first things we will generally do is file a request for discovery in a divorce action. We use the discovery process in a divorce action to flesh out the information you give us. In turn, you will be asked to respond to a discovery request by the other party’s attorney.
There may be an entry of a temporary order. This will usually address the issues of who will stay in the marital home while the divorce is pending; what will be the custody arrangement while the divorce is pending; what support if any is awarded while the divorce is pending; etc.
During this entire process, the parties through their divorce attorneys will be trying to reach a settlement. However, after trying your best to settle the outstanding issues of the divorce, then there is only solution. Let the judge decide. The judge will hear all the issues regarding the divorce and make a determination as to custody, property, support, etc. All of the judge’s ruling will then be written up in the final decree of divorce. The final decree of divorce is an order of the court. Failure to abide by it may result in sanctions to the party disobeying the court’s order.
What do you do if you disagree with the Court’s ruling in Virginia & Maryland?
You can always appeal the court’s ruling if you think it is not fair. We will advise you as to our opinion regarding the judge’s ruling. However, the ultimate determination as to whether an appeal is filed is always left up to the client. If you accept the court’s ruling and later wish to modify either the issues of support or custody, then you may request a modification provided there is grounds for a modification.
Granting Alimony In Divorce Proceedings In Maryland & Virginia
Once a couple decides to divorce and starts the actual legal dissolution of marriage proceedings, either one may ask the court for interim financial support. This request is known as pendente lite – or “pending litigation.” This order is often used to provide for the support of a lower-income spouse while the legal process moves ahead.
After the divorce is final, either party may ask for post-marital alimony. Alimony is not an absolute right. The court will determine if alimony is justified by looking at the circumstances surrounding both the divorce and the divorcing couple.
If one party has received interim support, this financial obligation is not automatically extended after the dissolution becomes official. The reasons for granting support before the marriage ended may have changed after the divorce has become final.
The parties may decide on certain terms in their divorce case in a mutually agreeable manner – signing a binding agreement or legal document to that effect. This can include any alimony payments. If the couple does not have such an agreement, or cannot or will not come to terms, the court will step in, making a fair determination based on the facts and testimony submitted by both parties.
This determination is not set in stone – it can be modified when circumstances change, and one party gives the other proper notice and applies to the court for a re-hearing. However, unless there are compelling reasons, courts are generally reluctant to modify a prior existing agreement.
In some jurisdictions, the court always has authority in granting maintenance should one of the former spouses become a public charge – needing public assistance for the basic necessities of life.
Comparing Alimony and Child Support In Maryland & Virginia
These are two separate arrangements. Alimony is not the same as child support. In child support, one parent is required to contribute financially in order to help raise (support) his or her children, by making structured payments to the child’s other parent or guardian.
Alimony and Taxes In Maryland & Massachusetts
Unlike child support, alimony is treated as income to the receiving spouse, and can be taken as a deduction by the person paying. Child support is viewed as payments a parent makes for the support of their own offspring, and can’t be claimed as income or taken as a deduction.
Enforcing Alimony Payments In Virginia & Maryland
Here is another area where there is a big difference between child support and alimony payments to an ex-spouse. In many states, non-payment of child support is treated as a criminal matter. The defaulting parent can have a host of legal sanctions placed against them, including loss of driver’s or professional licenses as well as actual prison time.
Alimony is treated as a civil matter. Someone trying to recover back alimony can only use the collection procedures available to any other general creditor. They can hire a collection agency to try and recover the funds, or instigate civil proceedings. If the spouse who’s defaulted on the alimony payments has no real assets to seize, the suing partner may get a judgment – but precious little else.
How Alimony Payments Are Determined In Maryland & Virginia
There are many factors that come into play when determining who gets what with regards to alimony.
Here are some of the major issues affecting the amount and duration of spousal support:
How long has the marriage lasted?
Generally, the longer the marriage, the longer time alimony will be granted. If a marriage has lasted over 10 years, that can be considered grounds for permanent support.
Have the couples been legally separated within the marriage?
This is a state by state determination. In some states, separation is a triggering event, meaning that the marriage will have been considered over when the separation began. So if a couple has been married for 7 years, and separated for 2, the marriage will be regarded as lasting only the initial 7 years.
How old were the parties at the time of the divorce?
Younger couples are generally awarded shorter periods of support, since they have more productive years ahead of them. An older person might find it more difficult to pick up the pieces and start over, and thus be awarded a greater amount or longer term of payments.
What are the couple’s relative incomes?
It’s a fact of life: Those with more money have the greater burden to pay. Some states recognize a “right” of the spouses to live “according to the means to which they have become accustomed.” But in the real world, this often translates into the “means in which they wish they were accustomed.”
The courts when recognizing this right will attempt to adjust the incomes of the spouses to approximate, as closely as possible, the prior lifestyle. This of course heavily penalizes the higher-earning spouse, while granting the lower wage earner a steady stream of additional funds.
What are the former couple’s future financial prospects?
If one spouse anticipates a financial windfall or significant increase in future income, they may have to pay higher alimony than one who does not.
Are there any health issues involved?
If one party is in poor health, the courts may determine their need is greater – because they potentially may not be able to support themselves. The courts don’t want to leave one party indigent – especially if that would mean having the state step in and provide support in order for the person to survive.
Was any partner at fault?
In those states where “at fault” divorce is recognized, this can significantly affect alimony, increasing, reducing or even nullifying it. The courts would have a jaundiced eye at a women petitioning for alimony, when all during the marriage she was committing serial adultery. On the other hand, they may determine a woman deserves a larger amount if her former husband was known to keep several mistresses on the side.
In “no-fault divorce” cases, where one doesn’t have to show “fault” to get divorced, the courts will generally close their eyes to any and all improper spousal behavior.
Restraining Orders In Virginia & Maryland – What Are They?
A restraining order (sometimes known as an injunction) is a court order to an individual demanding that they refrain or stop doing certain acts. The order itself is literally a legal document signed by a judge telling the individual in question what action or actions to cease doing or face the legal consequences.
There are many reasons a restraining order may be issued. Here are some of the more common:
• Physical/Sexual abuse
• Preventing the wrongful transfer of real property, also called fraudulent conveyance
By far, the main purpose of restraining orders is to offer legal protection to victims of domestic abuse, harassment, stalking, and neighborhood disputes. A parent or guardian can apply for a restraining order on behalf of a minor child.
There are basically three types of restraining orders: Emergency Protective Order, Temporary Restraining Order (TRO), and Permanent Restraining Order.
Emergency Protective Orders In Virginia & Maryland
Emergency Protective Orders go into effect immediately. Emergency protective orders usually arise in situations of domestic violence. If when responding to a domestic violence call, a police officer feels imminent harm may occur to one of the parties, the officer can call a judge at any time and request the emergency protective order.
An emergency protective order is only an emergency stop gap measure, and usually lasts less than a week. Its main purpose is to provide protection for one (or both) quarreling couples and give the victim(s) time to apply for a restraining order.
Temporary Restraining Orders (TRO) In Virginia & Maryland
A temporary restraining order (TRO) may be issued on a short-term basis, usually less than a month, and may be granted ex parte – without giving the restrained party any advance notice. This is done so that the accused party can’t hide assets (divorce cases), disclose trade secrets (business disputes) – or seek revenge on the other partner (domestic violence) before the order has been issued.
A temporary restraining order usually lasts while a motion for preliminary injunction is being decided. The court then will either issue a permanent injunction or restraining order – or vacate (dismiss) the original complaint.
Permanent Restraining Orders In Virginia & Maryland
A permanent restraining order – or simply restraining order is the third type of restraining orders. A permanent restraining order is just what it says, the prohibited action or actions are made permanent – lasting in some cases for a number of years. Permanent restraining orders can be renewed or extended if the victim is still in danger of being subjected to abusive or harassing behavior when the order expires.
“No Contact” Orders and Other Commonly Addressed Issues In Virginia & Maryland
An order of “no contact” is a common restraining order, specifying under penalty of law that an individual not make contact with another person or even that they must stay a certain distance away from the victim. In domestic cases, other common mandates include orders not to:
- Enter a family home
- Remove children from a certain jurisdiction
- Sell marital property
- Possess or purchase a firearm
Restraining orders aren’t just for restraint. For example, an order may include granting a victim control over jointly owned property, such as vehicles, bank accounts, or household appliances.
They can also order a person to do certain acts, such as continue to make loan payments, return personal belongings to the victim, pay certain bills, or attend counseling or other treatment programs. The conditions and restrictions of restraining orders vary on a case by case basis, and judges can order any reasonable directives they feel necessary to protect the victim.
Obtaining a Restraining Order In Virginia & Maryland
To get a restraining order one has to fill out the necessary paperwork. These forms can usually be obtained from the local courthouse or even on line. Many shelters and domestic abuse prevention centers and organizations also have the forms available – both at their facilities and on their websites.
In filling out the forms, the victim will have to provide specific and personal information, including the exact nature of the abusive or harassing behavior for which they are seeking protection. Once the forms are completed, they should be taken to the local courthouse, along with any supporting documents (Id’s, police reports, photos of the abuser or harasser if available, and so on).
The court clerk then takes these forms to a judge, who will decide whether or not to issue a temporary restraining order until a hearing can be held. After the temporary restraining order decision has been made a court date will be set for a hearing on the permanent restraining order.
After the hearing date for the permanent restraining order has been set, a process server must be obtained in order to serve legally compliant notice of the hearing and the proper legal documents on the alleged abuser or harasser.
In order to be granted a permanent restraining order, the victim will have to prove the abusive or harassing acts were actually committed by the accused party, and that they as victims of those actions need court ordered protection.
After the Restraining Order is Granted in Virginia & Maryland
If a restraining order is granted, the party suffering the abuse or harassment should make numerous copies of the order – keeping a copy with them at all times. Copies of this order should also be left where they work as well as their children’s school or daycare. Notice can also be posted in the local newspapers as well.
The party failing to adhere to the order of restraint faces civil or criminal penalties and may have to pay damages or accept other legal sanctions. In some cases, breaching the order is considered a serious criminal offense, meriting arrest and possible prison sentences. In any event, if the order is violated the police should be immediately contacted.
Going through a divorce is no walk in the park. Besides the legal consequences, there are also the emotional ones. Many times a divorcing couple are hurt, embarrassed, angry, vengeful … all at the same time.
Withholding Information from Your Lawyer in Virginia & Maryland about your divorce
In this state of mind, one or both parties may choose to “withhold” information – not only from each other but from their divorce attorney’s as well.
Those feelings are quite understandable. Studies have indicated divorce produces the same amount of stress as the death of a close family member. In a way – it is a death. It’s the dissolution of one of the strongest social bonds we have – that of husband and wife and many times children as well.
However, it’s never a good idea to hide information from your divorce attorney.
No matter what your situation, an experienced divorce attorney has probably encountered it before. Cheating spouses? Abusive relationships? Gambling problems? Drinking or drug problems? Money disappearing from joint accounts? Expenditures that don’t add up? Child abuse? The list is very long indeed.
Your divorce attorney knows the tricks and gambits that heartaches and emotional stress can bring into play in these situations. But if you don’t confide in your lawyer, the only person who’ll end up getting hurt is you.
What You Don’t Say Can Hurt You in Virginia & Maryland
First off, in order to mount a proper defense and make sure you receive an equitable outcome; your divorce attorney must know the facts. Even if those facts seemingly put you in a bad position – rest assured you’ll be in a far worse position if they come out in divorce court without your attorney’s knowledge.
Withholding material facts such as bank accounts, sources of income, equity in stocks or bonds, safe deposit boxes, and other financial dealings and resources can and probably will adversely affect your divorce. If the judge even suspects you’re lying or trying to conceal funds from your spouse – rest assured you won’t be happy with the outcome.
Additionally, if it does come out you’ve been hiding relevant information – your attorney will probably drop the case, and with good reason. You can’t be trusted – and few lawyers will stick their necks out and put their reputation on the line for clients who don’t come clean.
Attorney-Client Privilege in Virginia & Maryland
Remember: There’s something called the “Attorney Client Privilege.” Whatever you tell your lawyer is in complete confidence. There are severe legal sanctions against any attorney who violates this privilege.
This doesn’t just apply to financial matters in a divorce case. As mentioned, you may have substance abuse problems, be romantically involved with another person, or even had children outside of the marital bonds. In order to defend and mitigate any possible problems, your attorney must know the whole “ball of wax.” Many times what you may think is an insurmountable problem is in actuality a minor inconvenience when it comes to the actual law and legal proceedings.
Keeping The Confidence in Virginia & Maryland
During a divorce, you may be tempted to call your spouse’s attorney. In a word – DON’T!
Not only is it improper, it’s not ethical for your spouse’s attorney to speak to you while you are represented by legal counsel. Believe me when I say: You’ll only make things worse.
If you do try and breach this ethical wall, the opposing attorney will more than likely pass on your conduct to your lawyer.
Plus … anything you do disclose to your spouse’s counsel is NOT confidential, as it’s not part of the Attorney Client Privilege. You could well be giving away your own rights and best interests without even knowing it.
If your attorney is unavailable for a short time – simply wait. If they are on vacation, they’ll have left word with you about arrangements made with other attorneys in cases of emergency. If something comes up out of the blue, and your attorney is out of town – by all means call their law office and explain the situation. Any reputable lawyer will make sure the emergency is immediately handled. After all, you’re the one paying for their services. Don’t be shy about getting your money’s worth!
Besides the awful emotional stress involved with divorce proceedings, there are the financial considerations. Here are some things to consider:
Credit Card Accounts in Virginia & Maryland:
If you’ve been married for any length of time it’s quite probable you and your spouse have joint credit card accounts. Please be aware that if you name is on the account as a co-signer or owner – you are both “equally, collectively and severably” liable for any charges.
This means that the credit institution may come after both of you or any one of you as individuals for payments. Even if the divorce decree mandates one spouse is responsible for the payments, you can still be held responsible for the debts incurred.
If you start to notice large expenses being charged to your card during your divorce – by all means speak to your attorney about it! Closing joint accounts may well be in your best interest.
Plus – perhaps now would be a good time to start obtaining credit in your own name as well.
Bank Accounts in Virginia & Maryland:
It’ll do you no good if your spouse decides to empty the joint bank accounts before you ensure your financial safety. Divorce can bring out the worst in people. Don’t assume it could never happen to you. It can – and has happened countless times before. Again, your divorce attorney will know how to best protect your interests.
Safe Deposit Boxes in in Virginia & Maryland:
This is an often overlooked item. The number of times a spouse has emptied a safe deposit box of valuables and deposited them elsewhere is legion. Few people even have a true accounting of what was in them in the first place. Take the time to make sure your valuables don’t vanish.
Insurance Policies in Virginia & Maryland
You’ll need to gather up all your insurance policies and decide who’ll be getting what. Health insurance, life insurance, car insurance, homeowners insurance … everything needs to be addressed in a fair and equitable manner.
Stocks, Bonds, Securities, 401k Plans in Virginia & Maryland
Allocating or disposing of these can be a tricky and complicated matter. Again, the advice of a skilled and experienced divorce attorney is invaluable.
Budgeting in Virginia & Maryland
Unless you’re expecting a windfall settlement, money is apt to be tight. Setting up a new home, perhaps moving out of town – all take hard, cold cash. Don’t close your eyes and hope for the best. Sit down with an accountant or someone you know experienced in drawing up a budget. Put down on paper exactly what you’ll have coming in vs. how much you’ll be spending. Then fit your lifestyle to what you can afford.
Don’t forget to budget for those unforeseen circumstances – especially if you have children. Emergencies do happen, kids do need dental work, and extras such a school outings or sport outfits can take a chuck out of your income. Always err on the side of frugality.
This is Business – Not Personal in Virginia & Maryland
When it comes to your divorce – including the financial arrangements – there is one thing to remember: Let your lawyer do the talking. You might feel – rightly or wrongly – the divorce is your fault. But after the dust has settled, and the decree signed – it’s too late to realize you gave up the farm. It’s bad enough to go through the divorce itself – it’ll be far worse when you’re penniless and divorced at the same time. And contrary to popular belief, this goes for men as well as women.
Everything should be formalized and in writing. And please pay attention to this: The moment one spouse balks at formal agreements, the moment the tears start to flow or the rages explode – that’s the time to get into action and call your attorney as soon as possible. Your present and future financial health is at stake.
The tears will eventually stop. The rages won’t be there anymore. But an empty bank account will be with you for a long time to come.
Children, Child Support, Visitation in Virginia & Maryland
Children – the innocent victims of divorce. No matter how you slice it – divorce is devastating to children. They may not show it, but it’s there. Unfortunately, many parents make a bad situation worse by using their children as pawns.
A woman may be frustrated by sporadic child support payments she’s been expecting and entitled to. Sometimes coming late, sometimes only partial payments – she considers her husband a “deadbeat dad” and treats him so.
However – the reality is often more than simple willful negligence. Any number of factors can be in play – health issues, job issues, the car broke down, the house was flooded, and so on.
Before one spouse goes haywire and seeks legal redress – try that age old tactic of talking. It may solve a lot of problems before they explode out of control. If it appears that one spouse is acting in a malicious manner – then of course you should consult with your attorney. Perhaps a legal letter will do the trick. It’s better (and less expensive) than going through the courts. When all else fails – you always have recourse to the legal system.
What you should never do is arbitrarily deny, curtail or suspend child visitation rights. There are some very good reasons for this.
1) It’s illegal. In getting back at your spouse, you may find yourself at the wrong end of the judicial system. The consequences can be severe – perhaps even criminal.
2) It’s unethical. You’re bringing your problems and disappointments into the lives of your children.
3) Blow back. Children aren’t stupid. They’ll see what’s going on. And as the years go by, you may well be the one left out of their lives – by your children’s own design.
4) Retaliation. Once you start on the roller-coaster ride of one-oneupmanship, it can spiral out of control. Your spouse may then look for ways to make your life less than easy – and what was once a bad marriage followed by a bitter divorce is now a lousy, hate filled life. Do you really want or need that?
One final note, litigation is expensive. If these problems are happening before the divorce is final, they’ll be less money to go around after everything is settled. If they happen afterwards, it has to come out of someone’s pocket. And even if you prevail and your spouse must pay court and legal costs – you still have to pay the expenses upfront.
Paternity in Virginia & Maryland
This is perhaps one of the worst nightmares a man can live through – not knowing whether the child he loves is really his. Sadly, cases just like these are more common than you might expect.
It’s not just the pain of being “cuckolded” and deceived. It’s knowing you’ve been raising some other person’s child, and while you thought you were ensuring your own family line – you were in fact promulgating another’s.
This may sound harsh and uncaring – but it’s not. Procreation is a fundamental drive – and for a purpose: To make sure your unique genetic makeup is passed on to future generations.
But genetics aside there’s another component to carefully consider. Even if you suspect the child isn’t yours, after caring for and loving them since infancy – a special bond is created, one that transcends the physical. In any event, the last person who should suffer because of another’s infidelities and deceptions is the child. He or she had no say in their conception, nor the circumstances afterwards.
The most stupid and foolish thing a man can do is break off relations with the child. If you suspect your wife conceived another man’s child, there’s now DNA testing. But in divorce, the only thing that DNA should determine is if the true biological father should also have some financial obligations.
But remember, if the biological father has financial obligations – they’ll also more than likely have some visitation or even custody rights as well.
This is an area where not only should you seek the legal counsel of an experienced family law attorney, but social counseling and if applicable, spiritual direction as well. But don’t turn your back on the child – you will live many, many times to regret it.
Other Issues in Virginia & Maryland
During and after a divorce, there are bound to be a host of other issues that will arise. Behavioral problems with the children, different ideas about their discipline, perhaps the melding of new step-siblings through remarriage. Even though you are divorced, you both remain your children’s parents.
Don’t denigrate or belittle your former spouse in front of your children. After all, in most every case the children didn’t ask for you to separate and divorce. So don’t make them choose between parents – it’ll backfire.
There’s also your future relationship with your ex. If one or both of you gets remarried – then a whole new set of dynamics are put into play.