Virginia Premarital Agreements: Yes, You Mean What You Say

Premarital agreements, also commonly known as prenuptial agreements or a “prenup”, are contracts. But family law in Virginia can act like a distortion zone, where the normal rules of court are modified or cast aside in favor of pursing fairness, or at least fairness as the judge sees it. So the question is whether a premarital agreement is interpreted like a normal contract, according to the plain language of the agreement, or can be interpreted other ways to achieve a more “fair” outcome. That’s what the Court of Appeals addressed recently in the case of McDaniel v. Griffith, Record No. 0597-15-3 (Va. Ct. App. 2016). Continue reading

Virginia Spousal Support: The Final Meanings of Cohabitation and Relationship Analogous to a Marriage?

Virginia Code § 20-109(A) was amended in 1997 to include language terminating spousal support upon “clear and convincing evidence that the spouse receiving support has been habitually cohabiting with another person in a relationship analogous to a marriage for one year or more commencing on or after July 1, 1997, the court shall terminate spousal support and maintenance unless (i) otherwise provided by stipulation or contract or (ii) the spouse receiving support proves by a preponderance of the evidence that termination of such support would be unconscionable.” Continue reading

Virginia Divorce: The Marriage that Wasn’t – Update!

“They’re baaaack…” – Poltergeist II: The Other Side, 1986

More than two years ago, we told you about the case of MacDougall v. Levick (Case No. CL-2011-4071).  As you may recall, the parties in that case, after believing themselves to be married for about nine years, were told by the Circuit Court of Fairfax County that they couldn’t get divorced because they were never married to begin with.  After more than two years’ worth of additional litigation and appeals (time flies when you’re having fun!) the Court of Appeals of Virginia issued its final decision in this case.  Continue reading