Your Virginia Lawyers
Divorce is never easy. The highly emotional issues involved in divorce —your children, your money, your home —make it one of the most difficult situations a person can experience. It certainly doesn’t help that the process itself can seem convoluted and burdensome. However, you don’t have to navigate this process alone. Having a trusted professional by your side to guide you can make all the difference.
The lawyers at Fredericks & Stephens, P.C., understand both the legal and emotional sides of a divorce and can guide you through the process smoothly. With over 40 years of combined experience in the family, high-conflict, and custody litigation fields, we offer unparalleled divorce representation, guidance, and assistance. To keep up with our clients’ busy schedules, we offer Skype and FaceTime consultations in addition to welcoming you in our Fairfax office. If you are considering divorce or are embroiled in the divorce process, continue reading to learn more about the mediation, litigation, and advocacy services we provide.
Divorce Without Children
If you’re going through a divorce or are in need of attorney representation, the lawyers at Fredericks & Stephens, P.C., are here to assist you with your needs. Please see below for the services we offer clients who are entering the divorce process without children.
Not all marital disputes cases end up in court. Often, couples who are experiencing seemingly irreconcilable differences seek less expensive and contentious ways to resolve their issues. Mediation and arbitration are two alternatives to heading to the courtroom.
Mediation: This process involves the couple meeting with a neutral mediator to jointly draft a separation agreement. The mediator is not a divorce lawyer, nor do they offer legal advice. Their sole role is to help the parties create a separation agreement they can both live with. The parties can resolve some or all of their issues, and both are free to walk away if the mediation is not going well. Although it is the parties who lead the decision-making in mediation, most mediators will allow you to have your attorney with you during this process.
Arbitration: A less common alternative to mediation, arbitration involves a couple signing a binding agreement ahead of time, agreeing to let the arbitrator decide the issues in their case. This means that, unlike mediation, the two parties cannot get up and walk away from the arbitration, therefore both parties give up a certain amount of control during the process. Both parties can elect to have attorneys present during arbitration.
When you hear the word “divorce,” you might picture litigation—attorneys representing clients in court in front of a judge. While in truth roughly 90 percent of all divorce cases are settled out of court, litigation is the next step in continuing the divorce process if a settlement is not possible. It is also possible to settle some issues and bring the ones you can’t agree upon before a judge to decide. In court, both parties have the chance to call witnesses and present the judge with evidence that supports their side of the story. In addition to handling the legal aspects of the trial, your attorney can guide you through the process, letting you know what to expect and reducing your anxiety about coming to court.
When couples divorce, they most often wish for a settlement that is fair to both parties, and then to move on with their lives. However, sometimes one party does not follow the terms of the divorce order, and post-divorce enforcement is needed. Divorce agreements are enforceable court orders, and if one party fails to live up to the terms of that order, that person can be held in contempt of court and can be ordered to pay money to the other party. Ultimately, a party who refuses to follow the terms of the divorce order and/or separation agreement can be jailed if the judge finds their behavior merits such a punishment.
Sometimes divorcing couples are able to negotiate a settlement without the help of a mediator or arbitrator. There are many benefits to this method including being less expensive, quicker, and less stressful for the parties and their families. Even if you are able to reach agreement with your ex, it is beneficial to each have your own attorney look it over before you sign it. Similarly, if you and your partner are considering a do-it-yourself divorce template that offers parties the option of drafting their own separation agreement, it’s wise to have counsel read it before signing. While that divorce template may sound just fine and fair for both you and your partner, you may be giving up important legal rights without knowing it. It is best to seek a consultation with an experienced divorce attorney before signing anything.
Divorce & Child Custody
When children are a piece of the divorce puzzle, it is even more challenging both emotionally and legally. Each member of the Fredericks & Stephens, P.C., team understands this delicate situation and offers the following services that cater to divorcing parties with children.
As noted above, mediation and arbitration can help divorcing couples reach agreement on some or all issues without going to court. Mediation and arbitration take on greater urgency when children are involved. Since most parents can at least agree that they both want what is best for their children, mediation and arbitration can be a perfect forum to decide child-related issues. If you’re considering mediation or arbitration in lieu of more expensive litigation, the professional divorce attorneys at Fredericks & Stephens, P.C., are here to help.
Litigation is rarely a pleasant process, as it often indicates that the parties have come to an impasse. This can cause stress on your child(ren), and can have lasting negative impacts on them down the road. However, litigation can settle unanswered questions and concerns about child custody that couldn’t be resolved in previous attempts at mediation or arbitration. It is important to select an experienced and sensitive attorney who will help you keep your kids out of the middle. Litigation is often considered to decide:
- Custody of your children
- Terms of visitation
- Child support amounts and frequency
- Alimony payment amounts and frequency
- Asset division
- Debt distribution
Enforcing the court’s order for divorce is even more important when there are children involved. Enforcement of terms like child support, visitation, and custody is important for the children’s well-being as well as fairness to the parents. When one or both parents aren’t following the court order, there can be a lot at stake, such as :
Monetary Sanctions: If one parent won’t allow the other parent to have their court-ordered visitation, the court can fine them or force them to pay the other party’s attorney fees.
Garnishment: If a party fails to provide their end of payment, the court can the garnish their wages.
Incarceration: In extreme cases, such as a party refusing to pay child support, the court can jail them, and they are released only when they pay the outstanding debts.
Even if you and your spouse get along well and have drafted a fair divorce agreement, it’s best to consult with professional to make sure you have thought of all the issues that might affect your children’s well-being. At Fredericks & Stephens, P.C., we are here to help guide you through the divorce settlement process.
For many people, child custody is the most important part of the divorce process. Most custody cases involve four major areas: physical custody, legal custody, visitation rights, and modifications to the agreement. Each of our dedicated and experienced divorce and child custody attorneys understands the sensitive nature of custody cases, and we are here to help.
If you have any questions about the above information, please click the links to learn more, and don’t hesitate to get in touch with one of the caring professionals at Fredericks & Stephens, P.C. — Your Virginia Lawyers.