Trick or Treat: Some Halloween Considerations

October 30, 2014


Halloween is on Friday, and many children are excited to put on their costumes and go trick-or-treating.  But there are some considerations that don’t automatically come to mind.

For instance, in some cities in Virginia, there is an age limit to who can go trick-or-treating.  In Virginia Beach anyone over the age of 12 going trick-or-treating could be charged with a Class 4 misdemeanor.  In Newport News, anyone trick-or-treating after 8:00 p.m. is guilty of a Class 4 misdemeanor.

In Fairfax County, there is no law limiting the age of trick-or-treaters.  However, Fairfax City only permits trick-or-treating between the hours of 6:00 and 8:00 p.m.  Although children won’t be charged with a misdemeanor, it’s safe to assume police will be enforcing this time restriction.

Parents should remind older children that common Halloween pranks such as egging and pumpkin smashing are crimes in Virginia.  If caught, the individual could be charged with vandalism as a Class 1 misdemeanor or a Class 6 felony.  The difference with being charged with a felony or a misdemeanor is the value or damage to the property.  Ringing doorbells and running away (doorbell ditch) could be considered trespassing.

Halloween can be fun and enjoyable – but parents should be safety cautious and remind their children to do the same.

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What to Expect During a Divorce

October 17, 2014


Most people going through a divorce have anxiety of what to expect.  The process is foreign to most people because they have little experience with the courts.

Here are some expectations to keep in mind during your divorce proceedings:

1 – Expect the Court to move in its own way and at its own pace.  It’s not flashy or dramatic as portrayed on television.  The time to set a trial could take several months or even over a year.

2 – Expect that your ex will not be at the same place as you – emotionally, financially, or mentally.  The difference in circumstances can have an effect on decision making.

3 – Expect to feel like you are at a disadvantage – both you and your ex will feel that way at some point during the process.  Partly due to the fact that you may be in different circumstances.

4 – Expect that your ex may not be able to hide his/her contempt for you – and you may not be able to hide it either.

5 – Expect to feel that you’ve failed the marriage and perhaps that you’ve wasted some time in the relationship.  You can also expect to feel loss – you have lost your identity as a married person.

6 – Expect that your children will be impacted by the divorce – it’s an adjustment from one home to two separate households.

7 – Expect to make some mistakes.  What seems important right now may not be so important two months down the road.  Try to remember that the divorce process, as long as it seems, is temporary.


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Passports and Parental Abduction

October 14, 2014


Some times parents are afraid that the other parent is going to leave the country with the minor child.  What are the options if this fear exists?

If the child already has a passport, and it is in your possession, keep it in a safe or safety deposit box at the bank. Without the passport, your child cannot leave the country.

If your child does not have a passport, but you are worried your ex will be able to get a passport issued without your signature, sign up the with Department of State’s Children’s Passport Issuance Alert System.  This system alerts you when a passport is applied for in your child’s name.

If you are involved in a divorce or custody action and are nervous that your ex may leave the country with the child, in many states you can file a writ of ne exeat.  This writ prohibits the other party from leaving the jurisdiction with the child until further order of the Court.

Additionally, when your attorney is drafting a custody agreement or settlement agreement, you can include the language that neither parent can leave the country without the consent of the other parent or court approval.

It’s important to be vigilant if you believe there is any risk of abduction.  Make sure you have current contact information of the other parent’s relatives, friends, and business associates.  If possible, it helps to have the other’s parents passport number (or a copy of the passport), driver’s license number, and social security number.  Teach your children how to use the phone and to call you if anything unusual happens.

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