Divorce and Family Law

The wedding season is upon us! Lovebirds Beyonce and Jay-Z, Brad and Angelina, Nicole and Keith, Kim and Kanye, and numerous other celebrity couples all have at least one thing in common: a Premarital Agreement. However, Premarital Agreements are not just for the high-profile among us. Every couple can benefit from considering a Premarital Agreement.

Unfortunately, the best ways to avoid a spousal support obligation involve consideration of the issue prior to marriage. The best way to avoid an obligation to pay spousal support is to enter a premarital agreement in which the parties waive their rights to pursue spousal support in the case of divorce. If both parties are able to support themselves after the divorce, spousal support may not be an issue. Since an award of spousal support is based upon the payor spouse’s ability to pay and the payee spouse’s need, a support obligation may be avoided or lessened if both spouses are working and earning an income during the marriage.

If you’ve recently become separated or are contemplating divorce, you may be curious about divorce mediation. In Virginia, a property settlement and separation agreement (“PSSA”) is a necessary element to a divorce and mediation is a way to craft the PSSA.

A mediation is basically a facilitated conversation. The mediator is a neutral party who assists the parties in identifying the issues to be resolved. These issues typically include child custody, visitation and support, equitable distribution of property and spousal support. Once the issues are identified, the mediator will help the parties come up with solutions for each issue. The mediator is not able to provide either party with legal advice, although he or she can tell the parties what the law would say about a particular issue. Parties are free to consult with their own legal counsel during the mediation and may even opt to have counsel present for the mediation.

Once the parties are in agreement, the mediator drafts the PSSA. Parties are encouraged to consult with legal counsel prior to signing the mediated PSSA. The mediator, as a neutral party, is not able to file the divorce petition on behalf of one of the parties, so once the PSSA is finalized, signed and notarized, another attorney is engaged to file the divorce petition.

Mediation is a good way for parties who are not able to reach agreement on divorce related issues on their own to find common ground. If you would like more information on mediation or other options in divorce, please contact Amy Miles Kowalski at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 434-846-2768.

Amy Kowalski employment law PLDR

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