Legal Question in Family Law in Virginia

Cheating Spouse Leaves

I suspect my husband is cheating on me. He moved out a week ago. I am a stay at home mom. He has given us(daughter 7yrs.) money to get by on. He wants me to sign an agreement he had his lawyer draw up. For what he calls a starting point towards a future settlement. We've lived together on&off for 7yrs. We were married on 2/00. Our home was purchased by him prior to the marriage. He owns 2 businesses, 1 purchased during our marriage.Nothing is in my name only his. What are my rights regarding property and support?Most of his income is unreported.

Asked on 8/11/01, 10:46 am

1 Answer from Attorneys

Lisa Lane McDevitt McDevitt Law Office

Re: Cheating Spouse Leaves

Do not sign anything without having an attorney look it over. Starting point? What starting point? Chances are he's asking you to sign a separation agreement which would forever waive your right to challenge the terms! By signing you may be giving up rights you would otherwise have. Let me give you a brief lesson on marital property. Marital property is all property acquired during the marriage unless by gift, inheritence, or via property owned prior to the marriage. If he can show that the business he purchased during the marriage was purchased by funds directly traceable to separate property then it will not be marital property. However, I've learned that many spouses will claim they owned something prior the marriage when indeed they used money that marital property to purchase something. He may not be lying but why risk it!

Also, it's not just the property settlement, what about child support. If he owns his own business then he's likely underreporting his income and this would impact on your child support amount. You will need to subpoena his bank records (among many other financial items) to see if they jive with what he claims he makes every year. You need to send him requests for production of many financial documents and to answer interrogatories. This could substantially impact your child support payments. Also you have the right to ask the court to grant you use and possession of the marital home and to have him contribute to the expenses of that house. And finally you may even be able to retrieve some if not all of your legal fees based on his desertion of you and the family and/or his adultery (but you need some strong evidence of his adultery). Good luck to you. If you have any questions please call me at 703-968-3974. And by the way, if you absolutely positively cannot afford a private attorney by either borrowing money, etc. please contact the Legal Services department of your local bar association and see if you can get an attorney through the organization to either represent you for free or at a reduced fee. If you're in Northern VA give me a call and I'll give you the number to the legal services of Northern Virginia.

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Answered on 8/22/01, 6:07 pm

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