What does Family Law mean, and what is covered under it?

Family Law includes issues encompassing marriage and divorce, support, custody and visitation, adoption, step-parents’ rights, grandparents’

rights, paternity, and more, as it relates to minor children. It can also entail proper estate planning.


Does separation mean one of us has to leave the house?

No. Separation is a mental state and an action to live like a spouse’s roommate, ceasing to hold yourself out to friends or family as a “married couple,”

and putting them and your spouse on notice of your intentions and that those intentions are permanent in nature. You need only move into a separate bedroom, stop, if possible, sharing a bathroom, stop eating together or having your spouse do your laundry, stop engaging in conduct or behavior that would lead others to believe your marriage is “fine” or that you have “reconciled” since a stated decision to separate.

Can my spouse just move out and stop paying any of our bills?

They may think they can, but they are still responsible in most cases. Nobody can legally abandon. If this happens, there are things you

can do. For example, you can go to court to ask for emergency support, depending upon your financial circumstances.

If there is no court order and I want to move to another state, can I just leave?

Constitutionally, you could go because you and your spouse both have a right to parent. But if you do

leave and your spouse contests, they could get sole custody. Before making any moves, it is best to consult a family law attorney like Patricia E. Tichenor, P.L.L.C. There may be exceptions to this rule in cases of abuse.

Can you represent both me and my spouse in our family law case?

In family law cases, we never represent both spouses; this would create a permanent conflict of interest. Although some

States allow an attorney to obtain a written waiver of conflict, this is not permissible in Virginia and, frankly, we agree with that restriction as it is too easily the case that one spouse may later claim duress or coercion to get out of any agreement he or she signs, claiming that the attorney over-reached or was one-sided in his or her advice.

The Law Office of Patricia E. Tichenor, P.L.L.C.
Professional Legal Services or Legal Representation
(703) 669-6700


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