Coates & Davenport, P.C.

Richmond Legal Blog

COVID-19 Legal Update: Virginia Executive Order No. 53

March 24, 2020

On March 23, 2020, Governor Ralph Northam issued an Executive Order to limit certain activities within the Commonwealth of Virginia to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 (the "Directive"). For your convenience, please click the highlighted links to access: (1) the Directive and (2) a list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) provided by the Office of the Governor.

Don't forget about life insurance in a divorce

When parties to a divorce in Virginia believe that they have everything finalized because the major issues are settled, there are still numerous smaller details that must be handled correctly. Any of these issues can become a larger problem if the parties cannot get on the same page. One of the areas that is of critical importance but often overlooked is the matter of insurance for the spouses.

Parents will need to maintain life insurance policies to ensure that the children are cared for in the event of an untimely passing before the children are grown. Not only will child support need to be replaced, but the children might also need to be put through college. The two parties will need to come to a mutual understanding of how much insurance is required based on the anticipated costs for the children. Insurance may also be necessary in the event that one party is paying alimony to the other.

Protecting your parenting time with the child you love

The aftermath of a divorce or separation is rarely simple, especially when it involves children and custody concerns. For some parents, finalizing a divorce does not put an end to unfair behavior by one or both parties. Often, one parent may ignore their parenting and custody plans and refuse to respect the other parent's rights to time with their child. Courts typically view this as parenting time interference.

Courts do not tend to favor parents who violate the other parent's rights. This may lead to a variety of consequences, including lost parenting privileges, mandatory make-up days for missed custody time and, potentially, criminal charges. If you believe that your child's other parent is guilty of violating your rights, make sure to take the proper steps to protect your rights and your relationship to your child.

Tips for divorcing a narcissistic person

Going through a divorce is challenging for some individuals. When you're married to a person who has narcissism, you'll likely find that you're facing what seems like an uphill battle. You can't count on having a calm divorce because that person is likely going to pull out all the stops to make things as stressful as possible.

In order to make it through this situation, you're going to have to carefully prepare. You can't think that some of the more common techniques for handling divorce will work because a narcissist is a game player who is going to try to game the system in any way they think will profit them.

Estate planning options to minimize tax liabilities

Virginia residents who have amassed significant wealth often want to save their assets in order to pass them on to their loved ones and future generations to come. However, estate taxes may inhibit some people's plans, and some options may help people minimize their tax burden. As part of the 2017 tax reform bill, a massive increase in the estate tax exemption went into effect. As of 2020, the exemption has reached $11.58 million per person and double for married couples.

While many people viewed the increased exemption with relief, some may be concerned that the increase is set to sunset in 2025 unless Congress renews it. At that point, it could return to the previous exemption rate of around $5 million for an individual and $10 million for a married couple, less than half of the current amount. While those amounts would be modified to keep up with inflation, it would still expose a much higher amount to estate taxes. Many people may want to take advantage of the larger exemption now in case it is not renewed in 2025. There are several strategies that they can pursue in order to do so.

Does following the speed limit lead to safer driving?

The reason that the police give for enforcing speed limits is, generally speaking, that breaking the law is a safety issue. They pull people over for speeding because the excessive speed means that others on the road around them face unnecessary danger. They're just trying to keep people safe.

Not everyone believes that, though, including some in the police force itself. One officer made headlines for claiming that there was very little correlation between the two.

Custody arrangements in Divorce

Families going through divorce are increasingly realizing that the traditional method of splitting custody may not be best for all involved, especially for the children. As a result, experts are advocating that families in Virginia consider alternate arrangements for dividing the children when both parents have an equal split of custody time.

The usual custody approach when both parents share custody is that the children alternate weeks at each of the parents' homes. However, when a child is faced with a week without the other parent, there is often separation anxiety, and it could have some adverse psychological effects on the children. Moreover, when the parents have trouble communicating, there is a need for frequent communication as the children need to speak with the other parent when they are not present.

Why accurate, up-to-date estate plans are important

When Virginia residents think about the future, they may want to make plans for how their assets will be distributed after they pass away. By preparing a will or creating a trust, people can plan to leave their property to their loved ones. If people do not have a will, their belongings will be distributed in accordance with the state's intestacy law. In an attempt to save money while creating an estate plan, some people may rely on forms in order to make a will on their own.

These documents may serve their purpose, but complications can also arise. In one case that reached the Florida Supreme Court, a woman used a do-it-yourself will form to leave her belongings to her sister and, if she died first, to her brother. While she carefully listed out all of her possessions at the time, including her account numbers and details for her banking, the will form did not contain a residuary clause. This type of clause manages the distribution of items that are not specified explicitly in the will.

Using trusts to protect assets in an estate plan

Virginia residents may want to consider using trust protectors as part of their estate planning. Trust protectors can take over a trust if it is in peril from lawsuits, creditors or a soon-to-be-ex-spouse.

In general, creating a trust is a good way to protect children's money. It can also ensure that if a spouse dies and the surviving spouse remarries, the money will not go to a stepparent. Usually, children can be named as trustees. However, there may be times when it is necessary for a trust protector to step in. This might be a sibling. Trust protectors are not only useful for parents. They can be used in a variety of situations to ensure that money is a trust is kept safe. People may also want to consider having any life insurance policies owned by a trust.

Parental alienation used against mothers in custody disputes

In the 1980s, a child psychiatrist introduced the theory of "parental alienation," which claims that many child sexual abuse allegations against fathers are made up by vengeful mothers to wrongfully gain custody of their children. Over the years, many experts have noted that this theory is not backed by science. However, a new study finds that the concept still regularly appears in child custody cases in Virginia and across the U.S., usually to the detriment of mothers.

For the study, which was funded by the U.S. Department of Justice, researchers from the George Washington University Law School analyzed opinions from 4,388 custody cases alleging abuse by either parent that were published online between 2005 and 2014. The types of abuse allegations listed in the cases included child sexual abuse, child physical abuse and domestic violence against the mother.

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Richmond, VA 23230

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