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Richmond Virginia Family Law Blog

Yes, You Can (Probably) Visit Your Child at School

By: Britney McPheron, associate attorney at Bowen Ten Cardani

Back to school often means back to the typical custody schedule for a lot of parents whose children don't live with them during the academic year. With work, school, extracurriculars, and life getting in the way, sometimes an every other weekend schedule just isn't enough.

The differences between types of child support cases

Parents in Virginia may find the topic of child support to be somewhat confusing as there are multiple ways payments can be arranged. However, the different types of child support cases are necessary as they are needed by the government to keep track of the children and families that require the extra financial support.

In IV-D child support cases, the custodial parents receive assistance from the Office of Child Support Enforcement. The agency may assist with creating and enforcing child support orders, finding non-custodial parents or determining the paternity of children.

Understanding the child support system

Newly divorced parents in Virginia may be confused about the different types of child support cases that exist. While some exes handle child support privately by paying it directly to the custodial parent, others pay child support through a state system. The type of child support case determines how the payment is handled; the most common types are called IV-D, IV-A, IV-E and non-IV-D.

The term "IV" comes from Title IV of the 1975 Social Security Act, which governs grant monies to states that are used to provide social services and financial aid to needy families and children. IV-D cases are those in which the Office of Child Support Involvement is involved at the request of the custodial parent; the OCSE may have established paternity, located the noncustodial parent or enforced a child support order that had been unpaid. On the other hand, IV-A cases are automatically referred to the OCSE because the custodial parent receives some form of public assistance. IV-E cases, which are also automatically referred to the OCSE, come into play when foster parents are involved.

6 Tips For Working with Your Child's Guardian ad litem

By Aileen F. Lang, Esq.

1. COOPERATE: Your child's GAL usually has a limited amount of time to gather information about your child and family. Help her by providing information and facts relevant to the issues before the Court. Remember- the Guardian ad litem is not your lawyer/therapist/social worker/friend - so don't use your time to "vent" or talk about all the things you don't like about your child's other parent.

Student loan debt could lead to divorce

In Virginia and across the country, much attention has been paid to the social issues that surround the nation's growing student loan debt. Young people are particularly affected by educational debt and are graduating from college and university with larger burdens than in the past. The average student loan debt across the country is $34,144, but graduates of the class of 2017 owe an average of $39,400 in educational debt. While many have discussed the effects that these substantial debt burdens have on the choices that young people make, the effects can move far beyond career decisions and financial management.

Many millennials have reported that they have postponed marriage in order to address their student loan and other debts. Only 22 percent of people in this population are free of debt, and among those who do marry, the stress caused by student loans can lead to divorce. While these loans generally remain the individual responsibility of the borrower, the outstanding debt can have a significant effect on marital finances. People with student loan debt may have less money to contribute to the financial pot, and they may wish to delay milestones like purchasing a home or having children.

Minimizing possible co-parenting problems in Virginia

Many divorces in Virginia can be extra complicated when children are involved. After all the custody details have been negotiated, ex-spouses can make the transition less stressful for children by creating a co-parenting agreement. A common piece of advice given to divorced parents is to put the needs of the child first by acting civil toward one another and acknowledging the importance of the other parent in the child's life. The only exception would be if there are issues involved that could put a minor at risk.

While custody agreements typically spell out which parent will have a child during various holidays, weekends or other times of the year, it's easy for children to forget these details. Posting a physical calendar in a visible spot in each home may avoid awkward situations where a child might make plans with one parent when it's not their turn. Possible points of contention may also be minimized if parents maintain consistent rules in both homes.

How divorce may bring unpleasant financial surprises

Virginia women who are getting a divorce may be in for some financial surprises. According to a survey conducted by the online marketplace Worthy, many divorced women said this was true for them. They are often surprised by the cost of divorce or by learning that they will have to return to work.

Another surprise is that child support and alimony may not be as long-lasting as anticipated. Some women are unaware of the total debt in their marital finances including mortgages, credit card debt, student loans and more. They may also be unaware of the high cost of health insurance and may mistakenly think they will be able to hang onto the family home.

Interest rate increases hit struggling families hard

Consumers in Virginia and around the country pay more than $100 billion in credit card fees and interest each year according to figures from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. That figure looks certain to rise in the years ahead as the U.S. Federal Reserve pushes interest rates higher to keep inflation under control. The central bank has already increased borrowing costs twice in 2018, and two more rate hikes have been promised. Experts say that these increases will cost American consumers $110 billion in additional credit card fees and interest.

These costs may be difficult to meet for Americans who carry a large amount of revolving debt or use credit cards to pay for basic needs. Much of the money charged to credit cards is paid off almost immediately, but data from the credit reporting agency Experian reveals that the amount of revolving debt that is not paid off each month has now risen to $687 billion. While the average American consumer owes about $6,000 in revolving debt, almost half pay their credit card bills in full each month.

Obtaining emotional distress damages against a creditor

Virginia residents who file for bankruptcy will likely get an automatic stay from creditor activity. Some circuit courts have ruled that the stay is meant to protect the financial and mental health of a debtor. Therefore, if a creditor violates the stay, the debtor could be entitled to collect for emotional stress or anguish. As a general rule, an individual must present clear evidence that a willful stay violation caused such distress.

A willful violation means that a creditor knew about the bankruptcy and decided to contact a debtor of its own accord. Evidence that could be used to show that a violation caused emotional damage may include testimony from friends or colleagues. Depending on the conduct of a creditor, a judge may find that emotional distress is evident even without such testimony or other supporting evidence.

Reluctance to pay child support

Most parents in Virginia remain committed to providing for their children after divorce. In some cases, however, a parent may allow anger and resentment to color their willingness to go along with an existing child support agreement. This can create significant problems for all the parties involved, particularly the children.

Marriages end due to conflict between spouses. In many instances, divorce actually alleviates the stress and negative emotions that come with this sort of conflict and allow the ex-spouses to focus their energies on the children. However, there are situations in which one or both parents continue to antagonize each other.

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