FAIRFAX VIRGINIA FAMILY LAW BLOG: by MICHAEL D. KAYDOUH, LAW OFFICE OF MICHAEL D. KAYDOUH. New decision by Virginia Court of Appeals Smith v. Thomson (unpublished opinion) April 2015: The parties drafted their own Separation Agreement without lawyers where wife waived spousal support "in lieu of"  husband paying wife's expenses for Medical, dental, auto insurance, personal property taxes and costs for cell phones for wife's life.  Wife remarried and was under the impression that her ex-husband still had the obligations as set forth above, however the Virginia Court of Appeals ruled against the wife stating that those expenses were in the form of spousal support and as such were terminated by wife's remarriage.  LESSON TO BE LEARNED:  Make sure you have an experienced atorney represent you so you know the legal implications of whatever you intend to sign.  This unfortunate event could have easily been avoided by proper drafting language which would have protected wife's expectations.



A research report published in The Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health discusses the effects on children where the parents have joint physical custody compared with children living only or mostly with one parent:…/7293905a-f4cf-11e4-84a6-6d7…


For most of you who know what a power of attorney is, it is a document whereby a designated individual such as a son or daughter or other relative is invested with control of an elderly individual's decision making ability concerning their assets. Unfortunately this kind of document is a GENERAL POWER OF ATTORNEY and can be abused by the receipent. There was recently a case where a daughter actually changed her parents wills leaving all their assets to herself and her brother. The disinherited relatives sued and lost and the trial Court Judge actually awarded attorney fees against them in the amount of $650,000  !!!! The attorney fees issue is currently under appeal. These documents should always be in the hands of the attorney who drafted them and a arrangement should be set up in advance if anyone is going to use them or the power of attorney should be specifically worded for limited purposes to avoid this kind of tragedy. It is not enough to have documents drawn up, it is essential that you remain in regular touch with your attorney so as to review matters with your children etc. iF SOMEONE IS TRYING TO PRESSURE TO SIGN A DOCUMENT OF THIS NATURE THAT YOU DON'T UNDERSTAND CALL Mr. Kaydouh

DIVORCE IN VIRGINIA: WHAT CONSTITUTES ABANDONMENT AND OR DESERTION: Recently in Virginia a Judge in the Circuit Court of Shenandoah County determined that an elderly wife who left her terminally husband did not abandon the marriage,  In this the case the elderly husband and his sister who was helping to take care of him were trying to pressure the wife to sign papers which would have divested her of her rights of the property acquired during the marriage. The wife took some of her clothes and did not come back for six weeks but did on occasion try to visit the husband in the nursing home. The parties did on occasion speak on the telephone. The Court determined that the wife's actions did not not constitute abandonment and or desertion as determined by the Supreme Court of Virginia Purce v. Patterson, 275 Va. 190 (2008). Should you have questions concerning these issues pleas free to call Michael Kaydouh 703-790-5080.

HOW IMPORTANT IS ADULTERY IN VIRGINIA ANYMORE: According to the Supreme Court of Virginia very important. Even though the parties were married for over 20 years and the wife had not worked since 1995 and the Husband was earning over $850,000.00 per year the Court  denied the wife spousal support since she had had multipal affairs during the marriaqge.  The test in Virginia is if a denial of support would constitute a manifest injustice to the wife seeking support even though she had committed adultery. In this case the Court felt it would not ! Lesson to be learned if you make unwise decisions during the marriage, they can come back to cause you unfortunate consequences.

RELOCATION BY A PARENT WITH THE CHILDREN LEAVING VIRGINIA; Recently two Virginia cases probibited a mother from leaving the State with her children. In the first case the mother had secured a good job in California thinking that it would also be good for her children  since they could attend the Catholic Montessori school where the mother had been offered a great job. The Virginia Court of Appeals sustained the trial Court's ruling preventing the mother from moving with the children, stating that just because she got a great job is not the test in Virginia. The court stated that since the children would be prevented from seeing their father with whom they had a close relationship it would not be in their best interest. In the second case the mother wanted to move with the children to Ohio since her husband had suffered a traumatic brain injury and could not support the children. The Court of Appeals reversed the trial Court and ordered the mother back until she could formulate a detailed Court Ordered visitation schedule for the father. In both cases the Courts in determining what is in the children's "BEST INTEREST' relied on the absence of meaningful contact with the parent who is being left behind. Needless to say it would have been better to have worked out a prearranged plan with the father before just leaving.

SAME SEX COUPLES DOES THE COHABITATION STATUTE APPLY? For the first time in Virginia the Supreme Court of Virginia has ruled that if parties enter into a separation agreement and the receipent party who is recieving spousal support lives with a person in a relationship analogous to a man and wife relationship, then even though the wife is with a woman the Court held that it is the same as if she was in a relationship with a man and held that according her support must be cut off. 

PERSONAL INJURY USE OF EXPERTS IN VIRGINIA; Recently there was a case where two men were taking down a chimney and it fell on the plaintiff crushing his hand. Fortunately the Plaintiff's attorney hired an expert in demolition work who would have testified that the defendant did not use the proper techinque in attempting to take down the chimney. In this case this case the defendant hit it in the middle with a hammer causing it to fall on the plaintiff. In every personal injury case it is essential to be prepared with experts when necessary. We do this in every case to protect our clients.

EQUITABLE DISTRIBUTION ON VIRGINIA FAILURE TO DISCLOSE INFORMATION BY THE SELF EMPLOYED;  Recently there was a case in Virginia where a self employed business man refused to provide all his financial information to his wife's attorney. The trial court ordered the husband to pay a hugh amount of money to the wife and   based its holding on the wife's financial expert and hit the husband with all her expert fees and all her legal fees. The Virginia Court of Appeals upheld the trial Court.. Lesson to be learned if you are in Court you have to follow the rules and disclose everything or something terrible can happen.

GRANDPARENT CUSTODY OF THEIR GRANDCHILDREN;  Recently a Virginia Court of Appeals denied the Grandparents custody of their grandchildren on the basis that the grandparents were not fully aware of the special needs of the children and failed to regularly visit them when they were in foster care. The Court referred to them as "psychological strangers" to the children. The gtandparents should have formed a battle plan to deal with these issues. It is not enough to have love and good intentions.

WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF A PRE NUPTIAL AGREEMENT.  A pre nuptial agreement is to protect your property which you own prior to the marriage or it can be used to protect property which you intend to acquire after you are married or it can be used to limit your exposure to spousal support after you are married.  In drafting these agreements you and your attorney must be aware of  the pitfalls which frequently occur if you fail to KEEP YOUR PROPERTY SEPARATE' after you are married.  The Court in Virginia can take away your property under Section 20-107.3 (e) if you don't preserve its separate identity or have a property drafted pre nup which protects your property.  20-107.3 (e) states: When marital property and separate property are commingled into newley acquired property resulting in THE LOSS OF IDENTITY of the contributing properties, the commingled property shall be deemed TRANSMUTED to marital property. ..This is a result you want to avoid. I have drafted numerous pre nuptial agreements to avoid this specific problem. 

NEW CUSTODY CASE IN VIRGINIA RE GRANDPARENT CUSTODY  OF A MINOR CHILD;  A Norfolk Circuit Court recently granted custody to a father of a minor child over the maternal grandmother. The facts are hard to believe. Tjhe child had very few visits with the natural father who had recently been incarcerated in prison for three years. The Guardian Ad Litem had recommended the grandmother as the sole custodian of the minor child.The Judge refused the "best interest of the minor child standard" and granted custody to the ex con father since the Court felt that it would somehoe deprive him of his 14th Amendment rights. The Court felt that the grandmother had the burden to prove that the minor child would be hurt by the father even though there was evidence that the father lived in a one bedroom dump with his new wife and their two children and that the maternal grandmother had a spacious home which had been the minor child's only home since birth.  There must have been some other facts concerning the natural mother who was residing with the grandmother. This proves one thing: never take anything for granted in a custody case. 

SPOLIATION OF EVIDENCE IN A CIVIL CASE; Most people don't understand what this concept is all about. Spoliation of evidence is when a party to a lawsuit destroys evidence to help their case such as when a department store throws away the torn rug that the plaintiff tripped on or in a divorce case the wealthy husband destroy's his financial records to deprive the wife of the evidence of his wealth. This is always a problem. The Supreme Court of Virginia has made it in all the more difficult to get this in evidence since they has recently ruled that the party must prove evidence that the wrong doing party intentionally lost or destroyed the evidence to prevent its use at trial. This would be almost impossible to prove. That is why your attorney must utilize an investigator to gather up as much evidence as possible to help your case. ALWAYS BE PREPARED .

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