The Pros and Cons of Marriage Counseling

The Pros and Cons of Marriage Counseling<br>NOVA Estate Lawyers - Leesburg, VA

The Pros and Cons of Marriage Counseling
NOVA Estate Lawyers – Leesburg, VA

Once couples realize that something is wrong with their marriage, there are a number of choices they can make: they can read self-help books and try to fix it themselves, they can seek advice from friends and family, they can engage with a professional marriage counselor, or they can do nothing—each with varying results, with doing nothing having the least chance for success.

Most couples do not have the experience to know how to navigate through tough times. They fall in love and expect the fairytale life, while in reality, they repeat patterns and dynamics that are not productive and often hurtful, and wonder why the problems never seem to get fixed.

The purpose of marriage counseling overall is to teach couples effective methods of working together to resolve conflict in a marriage so they can function independent of a third party. By facing old habits and patterns, and making efforts to establish new and healthier ones, couples can learn to identify problem areas and learn new and better ways of communication.

As with anything, marriage counseling has its pros and cons:

Pros
The overall goal of marriage counseling is to resolve issues and improve and strengthen the relationship between a married couple or those involved in a committed relationship. It uncovers perhaps-unseen ways of interacting that are detrimental, as well as brings buried anger to light so that it can be resolved.

Through regular counseling sessions, couples share frustrations and truths before a neutral third party, who offers methods to move past them and ways to better handle disputes and problems when they arise. The use of personality assessments or other testing by a therapist, when effective, can aid couples in developing a better sense of their partner’s communication style and lead to learning ways to build a stronger foundation and more enriching marriage.  This can also translate to improved parenting skills for couples with children.

How well couples relate with their counselor can be more important that the treatment they provide. Couples should treat the selection of a therapist like a job interview, understanding that each of them must feel comfortable with the person selected in order to build trust in that person, and to then make real progress.  Do not be afraid to change counselors if one or both of you realize the person is not the right fit.

Cons
Marriage counseling doesn’t always work for everyone, and can uncover issues that cannot or will not be resolved.

It also requires both people in the marriage to commit to making a positive change, and, often, one spouse may seem less committed to the use of therapy and unmotivated to put in the work it takes for therapy to be most beneficiary to the marriage. It’s important to remember:  One spouse cannot fix a broken marriage; it takes both spouses to dedicate effort to looking at, acknowledging, and taking steps to resolving issues with a common goal, although there are times when only one person in a marriage may choose to work with a counselor alone. It depends on the circumstances. However, both partners must take responsibility for their role in the problems.

In addition, couples therapy is not a quick fix; it takes time, over many counseling sessions. Some couples cannot afford the cost of ongoing therapy, and eventually drop out or try to fix their problems themselves. Help may still be available through local couples-support groups or places of worship which offer counseling free of charge or at a significantly lesser expense than a private therapist.

Taking the first step to counseling is always the hardest one, but with an open mind and a dedication to making it work, many couples go on to have successful marriages.

Contact Your Family Law Attorney

If you have questions about marriage counseling, or wish to talk to your attorney about a possible separation or divorce, your legal rights, or child custody issues, contact attorneys Patricia Tichenor and Camellia Safi at the Law Office of Patricia E. Tichenor, P.L.L.C. We specialize in Family and Estate law. Contact us today.

Legally Establishing Paternity

Legally Establishing Paternity<br>NOVA Estate Lawyers - Leesburg, VA

Legally Establishing Paternity
NOVA Estate Lawyers – Leesburg, VA

A new baby always creates excitement within a family, with doting parents, grandparents, siblings and extended family members sharing the joy.

In most cases, parentage is well known and accepted. However, in others, the identity of the father might be in question. Under Virginia law, only one man can possess paternity of a child at one time, and as a child’s biological father may not necessarily be the child’s legal father, the question of paternity exists. Here are some methods to establishing paternity.

Father’s Name on Birth Certificate
When a child is born to a married couple, paternity is presumed under Virginia law, and normally a mother’s and father’s name is listed on the birth certificate. For unmarried couples, paternity may not always be clear. In order to place the father’s name on the birth certificate a Paternity Statement should be prepared. In Virginia, paternity can be established in the hospital by signing and notarizing a no-cost form called the Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity (AOP) prior to being discharged from the hospital.

Establishing paternity itself can be more of a challenge, and there are several acceptable methods that are simply defined here. For more details, please contact your family law attorney.

Genetic Testing

A scientifically-reliable genetic test, consisting of a blood test or genetic test, can establish or disprove paternity with at least a 98% accuracy rate. In the Commonwealth of Virginia, a Motion for Genetic Testing is generally filed with the Juvenile & Domestic Relations District Court and possibly the Circuit Court.

Written Statement
The mother and father can create a written statement, taken under oath, that acknowledges paternity. This process also confirms that both parties were provided with oral and written descriptions of the right and responsibilities of acknowledging paternity, and any consequences of signing the acknowledgement, and includes the potential right to rescind within 60 days.

Although paternity must be proven, other evidence that may be considered for establishing paternity includes:
Cohabitation: evidence of living together or sexual relations between the known parent and the alleged parent at the time conception should have occurred.
Conduct: common use of the father’s name, references acknowledging the father, or conduct conducive to assuming fatherhood.
Claims: claiming the child on legal documents such as tax returns or documents filed with the local, state or federal government, or their agencies.

Adoption
Proof of legal adoption to establish paternity outside of being a biological parent.

Petitioning for Paternity
A petition to establish paternity must be created and filed with the Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court, with the Circuit Courts having concurrent jurisdiction in matters pertaining to paternity.

Contact Your Family Law Attorney
Paternity can be complicated, especially if multiple potential fathers are involved, and knowing your rights, options, and responsibilities are important. If you have questions concerning paternity, ask your family lawyer, like Patricia Tichenor or Camellia Safi, the attorneys at The Law Office of Patricia E. Tichenor, P.L.L.C. in Leesburg, Virginia. We are the caring professionals families can turn to when they need answers, guidance, or defense. Contact us today.

You May Want to Consider Holding Power of Attorney for Your Adult Child

You May Want to Consider Holding Power of Attorney for Your Adult Child

You May Want to Consider Holding Power of Attorney for Your Adult Child
NOVA Estate Lawyers – Leesburg

Your child is always your child, except in the eyes of the law where an 18 year old is considered to be legal adults. However, as many parents know, at this age, or even beyond, many children are still not ready to be on their own and may need your input or assistance in major life decisions or managing finances. Even though they may be off to college, or entering military service, and you still may be paying their way, you may not have any say in their affairs should something happen and they need your help.

At age 18, children are also deemed emancipated for HIPAA purposes. This means that their privacy is protected under the law—even from their parents—unless they have a medical directive or medical power of attorney in place.

If an unfortunate circumstance should occur, as for example, your child was injured in campus violence incident or had a serious car accident, you, as parents, would have no access to health-related records, or would not be able to make decisions on their behalf if needed, unlike when they were minor children. With the increase of gun violence on campuses and distracted driving, pre-determining a plan might just help put your mind to rest, and offer protection for all parties.

Every 18-year-old needs these two essential documents

That is why we at the Law Office of Patricia E. Tichenor P.L.L.C. highly recommend creating two essential estate planning documents: a durable general power of attorney (for financial matters) and a durable medical power of attorney (for health-related matters). Encourage your child to put one in place after they turn 18, so they can ensure that you will be able to make decisions as to your child’s finances and health care in the event they are unable to do so themselves. Doing so will avoid the greater expense, stress and delay, if they are not in place, of seeking those rights for your child through a guardianship or conservatorship proceeding in the courts. Even though you most often hear about these two documents for older people, they should be considered for younger folks as well.

A financial power of attorney can be customized to your child’s needs, general (covering all financial matters) or specific (relating to just one aspect of the adult child’s finances). Your child can appoint these responsibilities as well to different family members or trusted advisors as alternates or successors to you.

A power of attorney can be useful in other ways too, such as if your child is traveling abroad and requires money wired from the adult child’s bank account, or needs to have legal documents like a lease signed in the child’s absence. The small fee you pay to set up proper powers of attorney will be well worth it in the end.

Contact your estate planning attorney

At the Law Office of Patricia E. Tichenor, P.L.L.C., we are specialists in estate planning and can help you protect your family members. Please call to set an appointment at our convenient Northern Virginia office with either Patricia Tichenor or Camellia Safi, attorneys at law.

Estate Planning When You Own a Business

Estate Planning When You Own a Business_NOVA Estate Lawyers - Leesburg

Estate Planning When You Own a Business
NOVA Estate Lawyers – Leesburg

When you own a business, a large part of your family’s income and wealth is most likely tied up in the business. Therefore, you need to plan what will happen to that business following your becoming incapacitated or your death. This type of estate planning is often called succession planning.

You may want to keep the business running within your family. You may want to sell it at a fair price and split the profits, either before or after you pass away. Or you may want to ensure that the business passes along to existing co-owners. No matter which outcome you choose, planning ahead will help your business survive and aid in preventing large or unexpected tax liabilities.

Without proper planning, even if the business should die along with the owner, estate taxes can still be owed. This type of tax, known as the IRS’ death tax, can range from 35% to 50% of the business value, and is due within nine months of the death. Lack of liquid funds can result in the sale of a business at far below its actual value.

Your estate plan for business succession takes careful preparation, especially if it is owner-dependent, as with many professional practices. You must consider the systematic transfer of management, assets and ownership, and answer questions like “Who will own the business.”

If the business has co-owners, partners or shareholders, you might want to establish an agreement that the remaining owners automatically purchase the shared interest in order to avoid family members from taking interest. It can also establish a sale price and allow or disallow partners to purchase your share. This is known as a buy-sell agreement.  Funds to purchase shares of an existing business often come from life insurance, and an irrevocable life insurance trust (ILIT) can be created to provide funding for the buy-sell agreement.

For a family-owned business, decisions as to which family members will inherit and run the business need to be made, and questions like “If two children will be involved in the business and one will not, should the assets be divided equally?” should be answered.

One of the main reasons for creating a succession plan for your business is to avoid probate and minimize estate tax burdens. You may want to establish a trust that transfers your business assets to your family members or partners while still providing you with an income. This is known as a grantor-retained annuity trust (GRAT) or grantor-retained unitrust (GRUT). Or you could establish a family limited partnership to hold the business assets. Because the rules for establishing trusts are complex, it is always best to consult with your attorney.

Contact Your Estate Planning Attorney

Creating any estate plan takes time, and it is never too soon to set a succession plan into place, especially since death could happen unexpectedly. That is why you need to talk to an estate planning attorney like Patricia Tichenor or Camellia Safi at The Law Office of Patricia E. Tichenor, P.L.L.C. Located in Reston, and serving clients throughout Northern Virginia, we can help you create an estate plan to ensure proper succession of your business and your assets. Contact us today.

Domestic Violence Should Not Be Kept Quiet

Domestic Violence Should Not Be Kept Quiet <br>NOVA Estate Lawyers - Leesburg

Domestic Violence Should Not Be Kept Quiet
NOVA Estate Lawyers – Leesburg

Although we all want our happy ending, domestic violence happens. It can begin with verbal abuse such as shouting or name calling, then escalate over time to pushing, hitting, and sometimes even death. Within the Cycle of Abuse, your abuser apologizes for his or her actions, begging your forgiveness and promising never to do it again. But then it happens again. And again. The same cycle.

Often the violence escalates. The abuser tells the victim it is all their fault, or that no one will believe them if they tell others. They create fear in their victim that discourages the victim from leaving.

This pattern, or cycle, of domestic violence is not indicative of a healthy relationship. Nor should it be accepted. Your safety, and the safety of your children, is at risk.

What is Domestic Violence?

Domestic violence is defined as a willful and systematic pattern of control of one intimate partner over another that can include physical, sexual, psychological, and emotional abuse. It also includes willful intimidation, physical or sexual assault and battery, and other abuse behavior.

Because it is such a difficult issue, domestic violence law was developed to punish those who cause physical or emotional harm to those with whom they share a close relationship. The most notable Federal legislation is the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA); however, most domestic violence offenses are prosecuted under state law. Although they vary from state to state, convictions for domestic violence require specific standards for the defendant’s conduct and relationship to the victim in reference to direct and indirect contact.

Domestic Violence Presents Shocking Statistics

As reported by the National Domestic Hotline:

  • On average, 24 people each minute are victims of physical violence, stalking or rape by an intimate partner.
  • Nearly 3 in 10 women and 1 in 10 men in the United States have experienced physical violence, stalking or rape by a partner
  • Approximately 80% of female victims were previously victimized by the same intimate partner.

And domestic violence doesn’t just happen to women. Fifteen percent of domestic violence victims are men reports the Huffington Post.

What is confusing to many is why victims stay with their abusers. There are many reasons. They may stay because they or their children have been threatened, or they may be fearful of what actions their abuser might take once they leave—whether to themselves, those who left, or other family members. Abusers can also employ psychological abuse where they call their victims names and put them down. This creates a cycle of self-doubt and worthlessness that leaves the victim unable to take action. Some victims are even convinced that they caused the abuse.

What to Do if You are a Victim of Domestic Abuse

  • If you are in immediate danger, call 911 and report your abuse to the police. They can issue a short-term Emergency Protective Order on the spot. Keep records of all police reports and incidents. This will be helpful in filing future actions if necessary. If you are injured, seek medical attention, and take photographs of your injuries. This will also aid in supporting your claims.
  • Engage the support of those who care about you, whether they are family members, neighbors, friends or professionals. Tell others about the abuse privately. You do not need to go through this alone.
  • Create a safe escape plan for yourself and your children in case you must leave your home quickly. Have a destination planned or contact your local domestic violence shelter for safe and anonymous harbor. Call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or Doorways’ 24-hour confidential domestic and sexual violence hotline at 703-237-0881 locally.

Contact Your Family Law Attorney
As family law attorneys in Northern Virginia, The Law Office of Patricia E. Tichenor P.L.L.C. can assist clients in filing a Temporary Restraining Order or Protective Order that will force the abuser to stay away. We can also aid in creating a case against the abuser and defending our clients in court for child custody and support issues, property settlements, and divorce proceedings. Call attorneys Patricia Tichenor or Camellia Safi today to get an experienced advocate on your side.

The Law Office of Patricia E. Tichenor, P.L.L.C.
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(703) 669-6700

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