Illustration by Mal Jones
Illustration by Mal Jones

Questions? Ask The Lawyers

By Renee Sklarew


Q: Why engage a lawyer if you choose to mediate your case?
A: If you are going to engage in mediation, it is best to retain the services of an attorney to represent you in mediation. A lawyer can provide the ability to spot and address future settlement issues for your protection. You might not consider the need to provide for the modification of a support provision when a situation changes, such as losing your job or becoming disabled through no fault of your own. Always have a lawyer review any settlement agreement before you sign. Julie Hottle Day, CSAD Lawyers


Q: How do you find a lawyer who specializes in divorce?
A: There are several places including word-of-mouth; the website for the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, [which is] AAML.org; lawyer rating sites such as lawyers.com and superlawyers.com; and look at Best Lawyer lists in local magazines like Northern Virginia Magazine since these lawyers are recommended and reviewed by their peers as the best in the region. Julie Hottle Day, CSAD Lawyers


Q: Should I get a prenuptial agreement before I marry?
A: The decision to marry someone is the most important decision you will make in your lifetime. Some people spend more time choosing a college than they do making the decision to marry. One of the best ways to avoid costly litigation in the future is to discuss a prenuptial agreement. You don’t buy car insurance intending to have an accident, but it’s there to protect you in case something happens. Julie Hottle Day, CSAD Lawyers


Q: How do you prove adultery?
A: Some people admit to adultery, but if you have proof of opportunity, i.e. spending the night together in a house or hotel room, or proof there’s a romantic attachment using pictures of the accused being romantic in public, then adultery may be proven without an express denial from the other side. In some cases, you need to show something more, emails noting a romantic or sexual arrangement or videos of people having sex. Julie Hottle Day, CSAD Lawyers


Q: How long do people have to be separated before they can divorce officially?
A: If a couple has no minor children and has settled all issues between them by written agreement, they can be divorced after a six-month separation. Otherwise, couples in Virginia must wait 12 months from the date of their final separation to obtain a divorce, unless a party can prove adultery, in which case no separation period is necessary. Gerald Curran, Curran Moher Weis


Q: What’s the best strategy to win custody of your kids?
A: People going after revenge, or a client who wants to get back at their spouse, is a losing strategy. It’s not good for the client; we feel we need to mold the client to get the most successful outcome. Emphasizing your positives as a parent is the key. Gerald Curran, Curran Moher Weis


Q: Do courts in Virginia seem to favor females over males in divorce?
A: Not really. That was the perception in the earlier years; it is called “the tender years doctrine.” Today, I’m seeing the courts as better balanced; it hasn’t felt like there is any discrimination. I’ve been equally successful with both male and female clients. The general tendency is to award significant quality time for both parents. Al Bonin, ShounBach


(December 2015)