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Family Law

Feb 17, 2020

Challenge to adoption order was untimely

A statute that provides a final order of adoption cannot be appealed after six months is the “outer boundary” for bringing a challenge based on an exception to Rule 1:1’s 21-day limit in which to challenge a final order. As a result, the circuit court lacked authority to rule on a motion to vacate the […]

Feb 17, 2020

Court properly determined retroactive support awards

The trial court properly granted retroactive child support in this divorce matter. Code § 20-108.1(B) provides that support “shall be determined retroactively,” and, contrary to husband’s assertion,  the statute “contains no requirement of a pendente lite order or hearing to establish a retroactive obligation.” Further, although the parties agreed to a custody order that made […[...]

Feb 17, 2020

No jurisdictional defect in parental rights case

The circuit court erred when it determined that it lacked subject matter jurisdiction over a county social services department’s petitions for permanency planning and parental rights termination of appellee’s two children. Background After an investigation, the Culpepper County Department of Social Services filed emergency removal petitions for appellees’ two children because she was unable [...]

Feb 17, 2020

Fifth Amendment limits sexual activity inquiries

Where defendant’s interrogatory and a request for admissions sought to determine whether plaintiff engaged in adultery, plaintiff’s invocation of his right against self-incrimination limits the scope of his  response. In this divorce proceeding, defendant wife has moved to compel responses to an interrogatory and a request for admissions from plaintiff regarding any sexual activity with [&hel[...]

Feb 17, 2020

Untimely appeal in CHINS case

Where an infant child’s guardian ad li­tem petitioned to court to have the child declared a “child in need of services” (CHINS), the JDR court’s order transfer­ring custody of the child to the DSS was the final order in the case, even though the order set a date for a foster care re­view order and […]

Feb 17, 2020

Evidence of wife’s adultery was admissible

A court may consider adultery evidence when determining spousal support even though adultery is not expressly pleaded as a counterclaim or an affirmative defense in a divorce case. The trial court erred by refusing to allow husband to present evidence of wife’s adultery for “any purpose.” Facts Wife sued for divorce and asked for equitable […]

Feb 17, 2020

Husband did not defraud wife to induce marriage

Where plaintiff seeks to have her marriage to defendant husband annulled, the failure to consummate the marriage, standing along is not a ground for annulment. Further, plaintiff has not shown by clear and convincing evidence that at the time of the marriage, her husband defrauded her “by knowing he did not wish to engage in […]

Feb 16, 2020

Condo properly included as marital property

Even though there was no evidence to counter husband’s de bene esse deposition testimony that no marital funds were used to purchase a condominium, the court was free to reject husband’s evidence and classify the condo as marital property. Further, husband was correctly ordered to reimburse wife half of the $60,000 he unilaterally withdrew from […]

Feb 16, 2020

Changed circumstances warranted custody modification

Where the minor child’s mother extended the child’s stay in Bulgaria for months after the parties’ agreement, the court correctly decided that she could have only supervised visitation until she gave the child’s passport to the court. Background The initial custody and visitation order awarded the parties joint physical and legal custody of A.L. and […]

Feb 16, 2020

No custody appeal after child turned 18

Where the trial court awarded appellees sole custody of a minor child, the court lacked jurisdiction to hear appellants’ appeal after the child’s 18th birthday. Background A juvenile and domestic relations district court order, dated Sept. 20, 2018, awarded appellees sole physical custody of C.B., appellants’ biological daughter. Appellants noted their appeal on Sept. 28. […]

Feb 16, 2020

Court had jurisdiction to amend pension order

Where husband drafted an amended domestic relations order for the court’s approval but incorrectly named the administrator of his pension plan, the court’s jurisdiction to amend the order extended past the 21-day finality period in Rule 1:1. Amending the final order to reflect the correct pension administrator was a ministerial act and therefore falls within […]

Feb 16, 2020

Wife’s assets considered to reduce support payment

Where the parties’ support agreement provided that husband’s payments could be lowered if he had reduced income, the trial court properly construed the agreement as permitting consideration of wife’s financial circumstances when ordering reduced support. Wife’s circumstances “Wife argues that the terms of the agreement required the trial court to consider only the reduction in […]

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