Family Law Services


Adoption

An adoption creates a legally recognized parental relationship between a child and an adult. Once an adoption is finalized, the relationship between the parents and child is as if the child had been born to them and the parental rights of the biological (birth) parent(s) are terminated. Adoptions are most common when a stepparent wishes to create a legal bond with the biological children of their new spouse.


Child Custody, Family Time, & Child Support

Child Custody and Child Support often go hand in hand. There are two important types of custody. Physical custody describes who the child lives with the majority of the time. Legal custody is the right of a parent to participate in the decision-making process when it comes to their child. Family time, also referred to as visitation, refers to the time the non-custodial parent spends with their child. Physical custody, family time, and Legal custody can be arranged in a variety of ways. In my practice we work creatively to find a situation that promotes the best interests of the children and their parents. In Virginia, the primary physical custodian has a right to child support from the non-custodial parent.


Divorce

Divorce is the legal process by which people legally dissolve their marriage. In obtaining a divorce the Parties may (1) agree to a distribution of the marital property and marital debt in a signed writing known as a separation agreement, or (2) ask a judge to separate their property for them. The Judge will also make determinations for child custody, family time, and child support as part of a divorce matter. Marital property in Virginia is defined as all property acquired during the marriage, regardless of how it is titled. There are a few exceptions to that rule, but the most important thing for people to realize is that even if a piece of property, like a vehicle, is titled in only one person's name, it is still going to be considered marital property under the law if it was acquired during the marriage. The same is true for marital debt.

Uncontested/No Fault Divorce

An uncontested divorce is possible when the parties are able to agree on (1) how to arrange custody and family time of their children, and (2) how to distribute marital property and marital debt. If the parties have children under the age of eighteen, the parties must be separated for a period of one year before we can begin the divorce process. If the parties do not have minor children, then the parties must be separated for a period of six months.

This law firm works hard to provide the lowest cost uncontested divorces for clients who have come to an agreement. Please call our office for more details.

Contested Divorce

Contested divorces arise when the parties cannot agree on (1) how to arrange custody and family time of their minor children and (2) how to distribute their marital property and marital debt between them. If parties are able to come to an agreement on these critical elements of divorce, then an uncontested divorce may be the right approach for them.

Divorce Counseling for Separating Spouses

This service is designed for spouses who want to resolve their divorce peacefully, but have not yet reach an agreement. In this capacity The Simmons Law Firm acts as a neutral third party and counsels both spouses as to what would constitute a fair and reasonable agreement. This service is ordinarily divided into five separate counseling sessions.


Guardian Ad Litem Services

Guardians ad litem are appointed by courts in certain cases to represent the best interest of children under the age of eighteen. The job of the Guardian ad litem is to conduct an independent investigation and prepare a report for the Court as to what is in the children's best interest. A party may ask a judge for a specific Guardian ad litem, however that request does not have to be granted.


Guardianships & Conservatorships

This is a type of proceeding where a court appoints a person to take care of an incapacitated family member. Guardians are court appointed individuals who are tasked with taking care of a person who has been adjudicated by a court to be incompetent. Conservators are court appointed individuals who are tasked with taking care of an incapacitated person's finances and property. The guardian and conservator are frequently the same person. To initiate this process a family member must petition the court to appoint them in this capacity.


Long-term Care and Medicaid Planning

Medicare will only pay for up to one hundred days of nursing-home care. On the other hand, Medicaid is a means-tested government benefit that will pay for long-term nursing home care indefinitely for eligible persons. However, there are strict rules that must be followed in order to be eligible for Medicaid. The process of creating a plan to provide for long-term care for yourself or a family member is a daunting and difficult task to undertake. That is why it is so commonly delayed, however, the best strategy is to start creating a plan approximately six years before such services are expected to be needed. This is a complex area of law that requires a lot of advance planning, but that can result in substantial savings for you and your family when completed successfully.


Prenuptial Agreements

Prenuptial agreements are legally enforceable contracts entered by soon-to-be spouses prior to their marriage that lays out how child custody, child support, marital property and marital debt should be arranged should they obtain a divorce in the future. Although it is less common, prenuptial agreements can even include responsibilities and duties during the marriage.


Spousal Support

Spousal support is a frequent issue in contested divorce matters. Spousal support was originally intended to provide for the support of a spouse in a marriage where one spouse was the primary breadwinner and the other spouse was a traditional homemaker. As it became more common that both spouses worked during the marriage, awarding spousal support also became less common. However, in long-term marriages where the income gap or earning capacity between spouses is large, then spousal support may be an option.