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Introduction - "Caveats"

Despite the statement in our Yellow Pages "ad" to the effect that the first free one-half hour of the initial consultation is "by (in-office) appointment only, "frequently callers will insist on (first) asking our appointment-setter what they view as but one or two or a few questions about separation, the divorce process, divorce grounds, custody, support, etc. (sometimes even "for a friend"); or we often get the virtually unanswerable question (at that point) -- "What's the cost of a divorce" (through our office)?

Probably, to many of these callers, our suggestion that the best approach is for them (or the affected person) to set an appointment and, during the initial consultation, the lawyer can and will attempt to answer their questions appropriately, based on the facts of their particular situations -- seems like an anti-consumer "come on." Going through a separation and/or divorce, though, is not like buying a car, or getting it repaired. The people and circumstances involved make for widely-varying amounts of time and work; hence, the "costs" vary accordingly. And we understand that often in these situations, the affected persons (and/or their "friends") are focusing first on what, as noted in our ad, is, from a legal standpoint (as a result of the "no-fault grounds), usually the simplest and least dynamic aspect of the entire situation; but we have witnessed numerous cases in which, based on "a little information" about divorce grounds and/or the process, people have taken actions which, for them, have caused disastrous results, in terms of the more dynamic and difficult matters (c-g, custody, support, property division, etc.). On the other hand, the particular circumstances of the affected person's case may make it all not nearly as complicated or costly as he or she might have feared...

Whatever may be involved, this is only, potentially, the rest of your life that's involved here; if you (or your "friend") think you (or he or she) need the answers to these questions (whether its been decided that separation is inevitable or has actually occurred or not) -- take a little of your time (or tell him or her to do so), as soon as possible, to get the information you (or he or she) need(s), directly from competent counsel of your (his/her) choosing. Whether it takes a half-hour or less, or a couple of hours or more, get an appropriate "lay of the land," regarding your own particular case, promptly (if possible, before even discussing your intentions with your spouse!).

With all of these caveats in mind, however, here are a few hopefully--helpful items of information about these matters; particularly as they relate to Virginia cases.(2) If you feel you need to use this information, though, do yourself a "favor", don't take any actions until after you have had an appropriate consultation with competent counsel! Please don't view the following information as individualized legal advice in your particular case.

1. Most recently revised: February 2001.

2. It is the law of the State where the couple last cohabits together, usually, that is the primary focus; although, if and when even one of the spouses fulfills the residence requirement of another State (six months, in Virginia and D.C.), it is possible for the divorce case to be prosecuted in that State.


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The Virginia court may decree that maintenance and support of a spouse be made in periodic payments for a defined duration, or in periodic payments for an undefined duration, or in a lump sum award, or in any combination thereof. The court, in determining whether to award spousal support and maintenance for a spouse, shall consider the circumstances and factors that contributed to the dissolution of the marriage, specifically including adultery and any other ground for divorce. In determining the nature, amount and duration, the court shall consider a number of things including, but not limited to, the needs and financial resources of the parties, the contributions of each party to the well-being of the family, and the extent to which either party has contributed to the attainment of education, training, career position or profession of the other party.
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