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  • John C. Whitbeck, Jr.


    John C. Whitbeck, Jr. practices in the following areas of law: Family Law, Divorce, Child Custody, Child Support, Visitation Rights, Adoptions, Spousal Support, Mediation, Arbitration, Relocation Cases, Domestic Violence, Criminal Law, DUI/DWI, Reckless Driving, All Felonies, All Misdemeanors, Juvenile Crimes, Mental Health Law, Civil and Business Litigation, Construction Litigation, Education Law, Election Law, Debt Collection, Consumer and Lemon Law.

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  • Ruth M. McElroy


    Ruth M. McElroy practices in the following areas of law: Family law, Divorce, Child Custody, Child Support, Visitation Rights, Adoptions, Spousal Support, Relocation Cases, Pre and Post Marital Agreements, Domestic Violence, Reckless Driving, DUI/DWI, Juvenile Crimes, Felony and Misdemeanor Crimes, Traffic Offenses, Debt Collection, Civil and Business Litigation. She serves the Virginia Court system as a Guardian ad litem.

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  • Jennifer D. Cisneros


    Jennifer D. Cisneros practices in the following areas of law: Family law, Divorce, Child Custody, Child Support, Visitation Rights, Adoptions, Spousal Support, Relocation Cases, Domestic Violence, Juvenile Crimes, Reckless Driving, DUI/DWI, Estate Planning, Wills and Probate, Trusts, Civil and Business Litigation and Debt Collection.

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Common Misconceptions and Myths about Virginia Divorce


Many prospective clients go to see a Virginia divorce lawyer armed with a number of preconceived notions based on family or friends or something they read online, which may or may not be true. Here’s a look at some of the more common misconceptions and myths when it comes to a Virginia divorce.

A Divorce Mediator Can Give Legal Advice.

If you opt for mediation, there is a mistaken belief that you can use a mediator instead of an attorney and he or she will provide legal advice. While they can provide legal information, they are actually barred from giving legal advice. Mediation is a tool where you and your spouse can present your issues and discuss options to resolve your differences without going to court, but it is still a good idea to have a lawyer advising you as the mediator is 100% neutral.

You Can Deny Visitation if the Other Parent Doesn’t Pay Child Support.

If the noncustodial parent falls behind on child support, the custodial parent might try to withhold visitation rights as a way to force him or her to make the payments. It’s important to note that child support awards are not payment for the right to have visitation. If the noncustodial parent isn’t paying, the custodial parent needs to initiate legal proceedings to collect the unpaid amount.

If your spouse committed adultery, he or she will lose everything.

Adultery is a fault-based ground for filing for divorce in Virginia, but it does not bar that spouse from receiving a division of the assets. It is true that in some cases, adultery is a bar to a spousal support award, but there are very limited exceptions to this if the court determines that denying spousal support would constitute a “manifest injustice” based on certain criteria.

You Can Backdate the Separation Agreement Date.

The period of separation starts on the date you and your spouse start living apart without any cohabitation and continues as long as there is no interruption for either six months or 12 months depending on whether or not you have children. Backdating the date of separation is not only unethical, it’s illegal.

You Can Get Divorced in Any State You Want.

People know how easy it is to get married in Las Vegas, and many people have heard it’s quick to get a divorce there as well. Contrary to popular belief, Nevada still imposes residency requirements you must meet before filing for divorce. If you and your spouse live in Virginia, you need to get divorced in Virginia as well provided you meet the residency requirements.

Equitable Distribution is the Same as Community Property. 

Community property states are different than equitable distribution ones. With asset distribution in a community property state, it is a 50/50 split. Virginia is an equitable distribution state, and that means assets are divided in a way that will be fair. It doesn’t mean you each split the assets equally automatically.

Retaining a Virginia Divorce Attorney

If you have questions about getting a divorce in Virginia or need to start the process, contact Whitbeck Cisneros McElroy PC at 703-997-4982 to schedule a consultation.


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Governor Northam’s Executive Order 53 provides that businesses that offer professional rather than retail services may remain open. Our firm is continuing to operate to ensure you and your family have advocates available for whatever legal issue you face. For clients who prefer, we can arrange meeting by Zoom or other video-conferencing. We are also implementing internal procedures to provide a safe environment in the office. Please contact us at 703-777-1795 or schedule an appointment today!