Prenuptial Agreements, Guardian Ad Litem and Beyond: More Virginia Divorce FAQs

Q: What is a prenuptial agreement?

This is a legally binding contract that two people sign prior to getting married that stipulates how their assets and debts should be divided if the marriage ends in divorce. It can also provide for spousal support payments or waivers to receive spousal support.

Q: What if you don’t have a prenuptial agreement?

Don’t worry: many married couples do not have one. Virginia law gives the court the power to make rulings about everything related to your divorce. A prenuptial agreement is simply an agreement between the parties for how exactly they wanted things to happen at the time the agreement was formed.

Q: How might the prenuptial agreement affect the outcome of the divorce?

The answer depends on many factors. For instance, did both parties fully disclose their assets, debts and other salient information before signing? Was either party coerced into signing? Does the agreement create an unconscionable hardship for either person? The court will consider these and other factors if a party challenges the prenuptial agreement. Likewise, actions that either spouse undertakes during the marriage (or after the separation) can also invalidate the prenuptial.

Q: Can I stay on my spouse’s health insurance plan after a divorce?

This is a question for the health insurance company, and it is typically not possible. A court cannot order the health insurance company to provide a divorced spouse with coverage. A court can sometimes order one former spouse to pay the other former spouse and amount of money that allows them to obtain coverage on their own. You can usually stay on your spouse’s health insurance plan during separation.

Q: What is a guardian ad litem?

A guardian ad litem is a court appointed attorney who assists a minor (or someone who is disabled or incompetent) to advocate as an independent voice for that person’s best interests.

Q: With respect to child custody and responsibility, what does “emancipation” mean?

“Emancipation” generally means when a child has reached the age of majority or is otherwise not subject to the jurisdiction of the court for custody and visitation purposes.

Q: What’s the difference between “equitable” distribution and “equal” distribution?

The idea of equal means each side gets exactly what the other side gets. For instance, if you have a bank account with $10,000 in it, and you divide it “equally,” each spouse would get $5,000 dollars. Equitable is a far more nuanced concept, and it means that distribution should be fair and balanced; meaning that property is divided by the court equitably pursuant to the factors in the Virginia Code. Not everything is necessarily split 50/50.

If you need assistance now with your Fairfax Virginia divorce, call our team at DiPietro Law Group, PLLC right now for a consultation at (888) 530-4374.

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