By Rob Hagy, Law Offices of Rob Hagy, P.C., 154 Hansen Road, Suite 202B, Charlottesville, Virginia. Call (434)293-4562 for more information or email for more information at firstname.lastname@example.org. I look forward to helping you!
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In the case of Damon v. York, et al, the Virginia Court of Appeals, in a published opinion, held that a former live in girlfriend of the child's mother was not a person with a legitimate interest under Code § 20-124.1 for purposes of obtaining court-ordered visitation. The former live in girlfriend sought court ordered visitation against the wishes of the biological parents of the child and against the wishes of the child.
In the case of Stroud v. Stroud, the Virginia Court of Appeals ruled that a husband could terminate spousal support payment to his ex-wife where ex-wife began living with her lesbian partner. Significantly, wife sent out a Christmas letter which alerted husband to the living arrangment. The letter was introduced into evidence. The matter was controlled by the language of the husband and ex-wife's separation agreement which stated that husband's support payments would terminate upon wife's "cohabitation with any person ... in a situation analogous to marriage."
In the case of A.O.V. v. J.R.V., the Virginia Court of Appeals, in an unpublished opinion, held that the trial court properly awarded joint custody of the parties' three minor children to both the gay father and mother. Father was fit to have visitation and the court granted the visitation, but with restrictions and the restrictions were proper. While the court did not bar the father's gay companion from the children's presence, the court could prohibit the father from having his gay companion stay overnight when the children visited and could prohibit the two from engaging in displays of affection in the children's presence.
In the case of Miller-Jenkins v. Miller-Jenkins, the Virginia Court of Appeals ruled that the trial court improperly adjudicated the parental rights of a lesbian couple who were joined in a Vermont civil union . The parties separated. One party stayed in Vermont. The other moved to Virginia with the parties' daughter. A Vermont court issued an order concerning the parties' parental rights concerning the child. After that order was entered, the Virginia trial court entered another order covering the same matters. The trial court should not have entered the second order because, the Court of Appeals ruled, the Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act, 28 U.S.C. Section 1738A, prevented the trial court from exercising jurisdiction in the first place. The Vermont, and not the Virginia orders, are entitled to full faith and credit.
I just finished reading the Winter Edition of the Family Law Quarterly (the "FLQ"), published by the Family Law Section of the American Bar Association. It contained an article critiquing "Parental Alienation Syndrome" by Dr. Janet R. Johnston, a professor of justice studies at San Jose University called "Children of Divorce Who Reject a Parent and Refuse Visitation: Recent Research and Social Policy Implications for the Alienated Child". It also provided a Review of the Year in Family Law which was dominated by the issue of same-sex marriage. Lastly, the FLQ provided a case digest of significant cases from all fifty states. Eleven Virginia cases made the case digest on a variety of topics. Here are the cases.
In Newman v. Newman, the Virginia Court of Appeals held that counsel for parties can sign an agreement for their clients and that there is nothing invalid or nonbinding about a consent order signed by counsel.
In Baldwin v. Baldwin, the Virginia Court of Appeals held that a Virginia Code amendment would not apply to all agreements or orders in cases regardless of age because such an application would impair the sacred obligation of contracts.
In Kane v. Szymczak, the Virginia Court of Appeals ruled a trial judge erred in making a custody and visitation decision that simply enumerated the numbered statutory factors the judge utilized in rendering the decision. That was not "communcating the basis for the decision" as required by Virginia Code Section 20-124.3.
In Roberts v. Roberts, the Virginia Court of Appeals ruled that a trial judge did not violate a father's constitutional rights by reducing his in person visitation to a thirty minute telephone call once a week where the reduction was due to his excessively purtannical conduct.
In Sullivan v. Jones, the Virginia Court of Appeals ruled that a reversal of a prior order allowing a relocation did not act as res judicatea and trump the change in circumstances test so a mother could still petition for visitation and ask for a relocation which was permitted.
In Wheeler v. Wheeler, the Virginia Court of Appeals ruled that a reolcation by a mother to Florida was in the best interests of the child since such relocation would improve mother's deteriorating economic conditions, provide financial security, and would allow children to live with primary caregiver who could stay at home where Father's relationship would not suffer due to relocation.
In Hodges v. Commonwealth, the Virginia Court of Appeals held that holds that food stamps and Medicaid assistance were not “public assistance moneys” as contemplated in Code Section 63.2-1908; and that the legislature did not exempt noncustodial parents receiving those forms of public assistance from reimbursing DCSE for moneys expended on behalf of their children.
In Hatloy v. Hatloy, the Virginia Court of Appeals held that a father was entitled to a reduction in child support even though father was making $55,000.00 plus 2x that in stock options where he was laid off due to economic downturn.
In Princiotto v. Gorell, the Virginia Court of Appeals held that a father could pay bills directly to third party suppliers instead of paying the mother child support where strong and conclusive proof showed mother was financiall irresponsible and the child support money would not be used for the children's benefit.
In Spero v. Heath, the Virginia Supreme Court held the trial court properly refused to grant father's petition for name change after genetic testing showed that father was indeed the child's father.
In Hoebelheinrich v. Hoebelheinrich, the Virginia Supreme Court held that it was proper for the trial judge to appoint the wife's expert to give an opinion on valuation of the husband's medical practice and then to follow the appointed expert's opinion, since the husband had been invited to suggest experts and failed to do so.
A divided Montana Supreme Court declared Thursday that the state constitution's guarantee of equal protection extends to gays, and ruled that the state university system must offer same-sex couples the same health benefits available to heterosexual ones. View the opinion by clicking here.
In the case of Holguin v. Flores, the California Court of Appeals, Second District, has ruled that even if the state grants the right to sue for wrongful death to the surviving member of a “domestic partnership,” i.e., a same-sex partnership, the state may still constitutionally deny the same right to the surviving member of an unmarried cohabiting couple of opposite sex.
The U.S. Senate Wednesday, July 14th, rejected in a procedural vote a bid to change the Constitution to include a Federal Marriage Amendment, defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman. While the matter may be dead in the Senate, for now, the House is poised to take up the issue in approximately two weeks as it examines measures designed to make sure federal courts don’t order states to recognize same-sex unions sanctioned outside their borders.
For an interesting article on why, the Federal Marriage Amendment is completely unnecessary because of the federal Defense of Marriage Act, read this article by former House of Representatives Member Bob Barr.
As reported by the ABA, Virginia’s Affirmation of Marriage Act, which became effective on July 1, reinforces the state’s seven-year-old ban on same-sex marriage. But the measure also voids any "civil union, partnership contract or other arrangement between persons of the same sex purporting to bestow the privileges or obligations of marriage."
Critics are alarmed by the potential ramifications of that language. They say it is so vague as to make the actual reach of the legislation uncertain. It is possible, they suggest, that the law could be interpreted to nullify a variety of contracts used by same-sex couples to create rights and benefits that otherwise would be denied to them because they aren’t married. Such agreements may include parenting and custody arrangements and advance medical directives.
Some worry that the law could undermine contracts between unmarried people of the same sex that govern both personal and business arrangements, such as real estate holdings, prenuptial agreements and business partnerships.
Virginia Code Section 20-108.2 This provision of Virginia law sets forth the child support guidelines-a table of reference for determining the base monthly child support obligation.
Virginia Code Section 20-124.3 This statute sets forth the factors that a court will consider in divorce proceedings, temporary proceedings, or modification proceedings to determine what custody and visitation arrangement would be best for the child or children involved.