fbpx

NORTHERN VIRGINIA FAMILY LAW

Mediation

WhitbeckBennett has its Northern Virginia office in Vienna, Virginia and represents clients in divorce, custody, support and all other aspects of family law.  We serve clients in Fairfax County, Fairfax City, Prince William County, Manassas, Arlington County, Alexandria City, Fredericksburg, Stafford County, Fauquier County and all other areas of Northern Virginia. 

Divorce in Northern Virginia

Divorce case are heard in the Circuit Courts in the county seat of each jurisdiction.  For example, in Fairfax County, divorce cases are heard the Court in Fairfax City and in Prince William County, cases are heard in the Manassas.  Circuit Courts can also hear all other aspects of family law.  Some family law cases can also be heard in the Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court which are located in the same city and usually the same courthouse as the Circuit Courts.  The cases that can be heard in that court include:  child custody and visitation, child support, spousal support, domestic violence protective orders, abuse and neglect of children and grandparent’s rights cases.  Our firm’s founder John Whitbeck is a former Substitute Judge in District Courts hearing family law cases.

In all Northern Virginia Circuit Courts, it is very important to know the local rules and procedures.  For example, Fairfax County has an entire practice manual that lawyers are required to follow in civil cases.  In other counties such as Arlington, Stafford and Fauquier, local procedures will differ significantly from some of the larger counties and Judges will expect lawyers to know the unique aspects of their particular court.  It is critical your lawyer is familiar with the ins and outs of each local courthouse, especially in divorce cases.  It’s also important your lawyer be familiar with the local lawyers practicing in each county.  Our team of lawyers practices in all counties in Northern Virginia and know the local judges and lawyers in each one.   

Whether your case is in Fairfax County, Prince William County, Arlington, Alexandria or any other part of Northern Virginia, clients need Northern Virginia divorce attorneys experienced in dealing with all aspects of a divorce, including issues related to marital property, taxes, spousal support, child support, child custody and visitation, and pre & post-divorce planning.

While our firm handles both “no-fault” and fault-based divorces and have extensive experience litigation cases involving adultery, mental/physical cruelty, and desertion/abandonment in courts all over Northern Virginia. 

All Northern Virginia divorces will involve the division of at least some marital property and may also involve issues of spousal support and/or child support. Our lawyers have experience in Northern Virginia Courts litigating child support, spousal support, and equitable distribution issues, including financial matters, business issues and all other aspects of property division in divorce cases. This gives our firm the ability to understand marital property and support issues from a financial perspective and is a valuable asset to our clients in dealing with these issues.  Our team of lawyers know local businesses, local elected officials and how the business environment in a particular jurisdiction can impact the outcome of a divorce.

Moreover, our attorneys are trained as and have served as Guardians ad litem for children and have extensive experience in Northern Virginia courts litigating divorce cases involving child custody.  Our attorneys are familiar with local law enforcement officers, social workers and school professionals.  We also have experience in school choice issues, special needs education and dealing with local school boards and school personnel.  Our attorneys not only are equipped to competently assist you in the traditional family law issues involved in all divorces, we also can help you in divorces involving more concentrated problems such as mental illness/substance abuse, child and teen issues, children with special needs, and school choice and other educational issues. We have an attorney who is a professor of mental health law at a distinguished law school, who formerly served as a judge for hearings to commit mentally ill individuals and who is affiliated with mental health advocacy groups.  

Child Custody Cases in Northern Virginia

Child custody cases in Northern Virginia are heard in the Circuit Court or the Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court where your child lives.  The Circuit Court can hear all types of family law cases including appeals from the JDR Court.  The JDR Courts can hear everything but divorce cases, including:  child custody and visitation, child support, spousal support, domestic violence protective orders, abuse and neglect of children and grandparent’s rights cases.  Our firm’s founder John Whitbeck is a former Substitute Judge in the Loudoun County District Courts hearing family law cases.

It is particularly critical in child custody cases that your lawyer is familiar with the ins and outs of each local courthouse, and that he/she be familiar with the local lawyers practicing in each county.  Our team of lawyers practices in all counties in Northern Virginia and know the local judges and lawyers in each one.  In all Northern Virginia Circuit Courts, it is very important to know the local rules and procedures.  In smaller counties such as Arlington, Stafford and Fauquier, local procedures will differ significantly from some of the larger counties and Judges will expect lawyers to know the unique aspects of their particular court.  The larger counties can be even more complex.  For example, Fairfax County has an entire practice manual that lawyers are required to follow in civil cases.      

Our attorneys not only are equipped to competently assist you in the traditional family law issues involved in all custody cases, we also can help you in cases involving more concentrated problems such as mental health issues/substance abuse, child and teen issues, children with special needs, and school choice and other educational issues. We have an attorney who is a professor of mental health law at a distinguished law school, who formerly served as a judge for hearings to commit mentally ill individuals and who is affiliated with mental health advocacy groups.

Moreover, our attorneys are trained as and have served as Guardians ad litem for children and have extensive experience in Northern Virginia courts litigating divorce cases involving child custody.  Our attorneys are familiar with local law enforcement officers, social workers and school professionals.  We also have experience in school choice issues, special needs education and dealing with local school boards and school personnel. 

Child and Spousal Support in Northern Virginia

To get child support in Northern Virginia you must file Petition in the Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court (JDR) in the county where your child lives or as part of a complaint for divorce filed in the Circuit Court, also located at your local county courthouse.  Our firm’s founder John Whitbeck is a former Substitute Judge in Northern Virginia who has heard and decided support cases in JDR. 

Spousal support cases are most often filed in your county in connection with your divorce case.  You cannot get spousal support unless you are married.  Most cases are filed in the County Circuit Courts like Fairfax, Prince William, Arlington, Alexandria, etc..  You also have the option of filing for spousal support in JDR but that is less common in most Northern Virginia counties.   

All the judges in your local county hear child support and spousal support cases.  While Northern Virgina judges normally follow the Virginia child support guidelines, they sometime deviate from those guidelines based on the circumstances of a particular case.  Courts are very different around Northern Virginia, so it is very important you have an attorney experienced in the particular courthouse and with the particular judge hearing the case.  This is especially true in some counties like Fairfax where there are commonly used spousal support guidelines that may not be used in other counties.  Prince William for example, does not have specific binding guidelines except in rare instances.  Having an attorney who has actually litigated spousal support cases in your particular county is very important to getting the best outcome you can.  Our child and spousal support attorneys have handled hundreds of these cases in Northern Virginia.    

Our firm’s attorneys can assist you in all aspects of child and spousal support whether you are filing in Circuit Court or JDR, and regardless of how difficult your case.  We have decades of combined experience in divorce and support matters in Northern Virginia, and litigate in front of the local judges on a weekly basis.   

Domestic Violence and Protective Orders in Northern Virginia

There are three types of protective orders you can obtain in Northern Virginia.  If the violence or threats you are receiving come from a family member or spouse, the and Domestic Relations District Court (JDR) your local city or county will hear your case.  If you experience threats or violence from someone other than a family member or spouse, your case will be heard by a judge in your county General District Court (GDC), also located at the courthouse in your city or county.  

Emergency Protective Orders: These can be issued around the clock every day of the year. Because of the emergency nature of these, they may be issued ex parte, which means no notice is given to the defendant or alleged abuser. They expire 72 hours after issuance, and until 5 p.m. the following business day if the court is not in session when the order expires.  Emergency Protective Orders prohibit further acts of family abuse, prohibit contact between the alleged respondent and the petitioner and their families, and can give the petitioner sole possession of the family home.  However, they only last for 72 hours so if you fear additional acts of abuse you would then proceed to seek a preliminary protective order.  You can obtain these orders by going to the County Magistrate’s office usually located in the local jail.  You also can get assistance in getting these orders through your local police agency.    

Preliminary Protective Orders: You can seek a Preliminary Protective Order with or without previously having the 72-hour Emergency Protective Order.  These preliminary orders remain in force for 15 days, or until the court holds a hearing on the matter.  You will have to file a petition and affidavit in the JDR or GDC to get a Preliminary Protective Order.  Preliminary Protective Orders prohibit further acts of family abuse, prohibit contact between the respondent and the petitioner and their families, and can give the petitioner sole possession of the family home.  They also can keep the respondent from terminating utilities to the home, give temporary possession of a car and require the respondent to provide suitable alternative housing for the petitioner.  However, without conducting a full hearing and getting a Permanent Protective Order, these will expire after no more than 15 days   

Permanent Protective Orders: When a judge issues a Preliminary Protective Order you will have the option to extend the order up to two years by seeking a Permanent Protective Order.  Usually, the hearing is set by the judge no more than 15 days after you get the Preliminary Protective Order.  These orders prohibit further acts of family abuse, prohibit contact between the respondent and the petitioner and their families, and can give the petitioner sole possession of the family home.  However, they can also grant temporary custody and visitation of a minor child, can order the respondent into anger management or other treatment, and give the petitioner other relief necessary to prevent further abuse.  They also can keep the respondent from terminating utilities to the home, give possession of a car and require the respondent to provide suitable alternative housing for the petitioner if necessary.  You can also get an award of attorneys’ fees if you had to hire an attorney to get the order.  You don’t have to file anything more    

Northern Virginia judges in JDR and GDC all hear protective order cases.  It is important to have an attorney experienced in domestic violence litigating your case in your particular county or city.  This is especially true as localities such as Fairfax County, Prince William County, Arlington County, and Alexandria handle protective order cases differently.    

Adoption in Northern Virginia

Northern Virginia families often times choose to adopt children for a multitude of reasons.  Whether you live in Fairfax County, Prince William County, Arlington County, City of Alexandria, Stafford County, Fauquier County, or anywhere else in Virginia, adoption procedures can be very different in particular courts.  Once you adopt a child, your legal right to that child is the same as if he or she was born into the family biologically  It is important to have an experienced Northern Virginia attorney help you with an adoption to ensure it is finalized correctly. You also want to make sure you research what options are available to potential parents.  Our firm helps clients with adoptions in all areas of Northern Virginia, even as far west as Clarke County, Frederick County, City of Winchester, or other areas in the Shenandoah Valley.   

Some of the options available to potential parents in Northern Virginia for adoptions include: foster care adoptions, infant adoptions, stepparent adoptions, international adoptions, etc.  Potential parents can adopt children either through agencies (public and private) or independently directly with birth parents in either a closed or an open adoption. The public agency that assists with adoptions is the local social services agency, often called the Department of Family Services.   

In some instances, adoptions can be challenged or even reversed by petitioning the Circuit Court in the particular county or city you live in.  If they are unchallenged, your local Circuit Court will finalize adoptions.  

Family Law 

Divorce

Child Custody

child protection

Child and Spousal Support

stone throw

Domestic Violence and Protective Orders

child help

Adoption

Loudoun County Image
Northern Virginia
Richmond Image