Lasris, Walsh & Associates, P.C.
d/b/a Denbigh Law Center
914 Denbigh Boulevard
Yorktown, VA 23692
Contact Denbigh Law Center
To schedule an appointment with an attorney call (757) 877-2244. Gloucester, Mathews, Middlesex & Northern Neck residents – call (804) 642-5050 | Fax: (757) 874-7300
Denbigh Law Center in Yorktown, VA
Often, the situation that prompts the search for an attorney is a distressing one, and an individual may not know what steps to take or who to speak to about their circumstances. Some individuals may not need legal representation in court, but should still consult with an attorney about their case. Consulting with a law firm is often the best course of action because law firms have multiple lawyers, paralegals, and other administrative help on staff who can point a person in the right direction.
There are a variety of reasons one might require the help of an attorney in Yorktown, VA.
Of course, knowing the specifics of what services a law firm may offer will help an individual decide if they need the help of a local attorney. Below is an overview of the kinds of cases with which the Denbigh Law Center can help.
The first and most important thing to note about filing bankruptcy is that there are many alternatives that one should consider first. A lawyer should never pressure their client to file bankruptcy. Instead, they can help their clients assess their financial situation and decide if there is another solution.
Filing for bankruptcy is a stressful time in one’s life. Often a person is pressured by creditors and is unable to pay their debts and cover their necessary living expenses. Regardless of the situation, a person should know about the two most common types of bankruptcy (Chapter 7 and Chapter 13) and how an attorney can help.
Chapter 7 Bankruptcy
Chapter 7 bankruptcy is considered to be a liquidation bankruptcy case. It is the most simple and most common bankruptcy case. In these cases, if the person in debt (the debtor) has any assets that are not exempt, then the court appoints a trustee that oversees the sale of those assets. The funds generated from the sale are then distributed to the debtor’s creditors. The list of exempt assets is not entirely straight forward, so consulting an attorney is recommended. Most of the time, exempt assets include anything that is considered necessary to start over after the bankruptcy is complete.
In exchange for the sale, most of the person’s debts are discharged. A discharge means that the debtor is no longer required to repay their debt. Some debts are not covered by any bankruptcy, such as federal student loans, child support, alimony, and income tax debt. The majority of the time, the bankruptcy closes without the trustee having to sell any of the debtor’s assets and most of the debts discharged.
Chapter 13 Bankruptcy
Chapter 13 is different from Chapter 7 in that Chapter 13 bankruptcy, also known as a wage earner’s plan, assists individuals in developing a plan of repayment for all or a portion of their debts. Debtors can work with a bankruptcy attorney to establish a repayment plan that meets the requirements for approval. Generally, the repayment plan consists of payment installments that take place over three to five years.
Filing for Chapter 13 bankruptcy has several benefits over chapter 7. Most notably is that debtors can prevent their houses from being foreclosed on and can repay past due mortgage payments over time. Additionally, Chapter 13 may be able to protect third parties, such as those who co-sign a loan, from being liable for the debt.
Divorce is always an emotional and stressful time in one’s life. While there are some cases where the divorce is uncontested and the couple separates amicably, the majority of the time, that is not the case. Whether the divorce is fraught with conflict or not, a divorce attorney helps couples with many steps throughout the divorce process. Below is a summary of the steps in a divorce case in Yorktown, VA.
Grounds for Divorce
There are various reasons one might want a divorce. In the state of Virginia, there are several types of divorce and separation one should be aware of, including the following.
No-Fault Grounds for Divorce
No-fault grounds for divorce deals with the Virginia state-mandated amount of time that has to pass after the parties’ first separate with the intent of filing for divorce. If the couple does not have children together and has submitted to the court a written separation agreement, then the period of separation is six months. In all other cases, the period of separation is a minimum of one year.
Fault Grounds for Divorce
Fault grounds for divorce means that one of the parties has violated the marital vows of support, fidelity, or appropriate conduct. Most commonly, fault-based divorces are granted due to desertion/abandonment, adultery, cruelty, or conviction of a felony. The behavior must have taken place before filing for divorce. If the accusing party is unable to prove that the conduct took place before filing for divorce, then the accused party has grounds for divorce.
Uncontested vs. Contested Divorce
An uncontested divorce is one in which both parties agree to the divorce, or one party agrees not to interfere with the other party’s request for a divorce. The parties have agreed to a plan for marital properties and other support issues and can present their proposal to the court.
A contested divorce is one in which the parties do not agree on one or more issues between them, such as alimony, child support, division of property, custody, child support, or other debts. In this case, the parties require a divorce attorney to intervene.
An annulment is not technically a divorce. It is a legal separation that allows each party to continue their lives as if the marriage had never taken place. These cases are very rare and typically involve fraud, duress, or one person has not been able to consent to marriage in the first place.
Though not the preferred way to handle a separation by most attorneys, separate maintenance is a rare circumstance that one can consider. The reason that attorneys do not recommend this situation is that in the majority of cases, the couples end up divorcing anyway. Clients wind up paying for two lawsuits, rather than just a divorce. However, some situations might call for this method of resolution, such as a religious belief forbidding divorce.
Though other situations fall into the category of grounds for divorce, the above are the most common situations in the state of Virginia. An attorney can advise individuals as to the correct course of action for their circumstances.
The Divorce Complaint
Each divorce case in Yorktown, VA begins with a divorce complaint. An attorney can assist an individual in drafting and filing the complaint, which outlines the parties involved, the grounds for divorce, and asks the court for things that the filing party (the Plaintiff) wants, such as custody, child support, and alimony. The person being served with divorce papers (the Defendant) then needs to file a formal response to the complaint, called an “answer.”
Service of Process
After the Plaintiff has signed the complaint, the court requires that it be filed at the appropriate venue. In the state of Virginia, a complaint must be filed in the Circuit Court where the married couple lived together last or the city or county where the Defendant currently lives. If the Defendant is not living in the state of Virginia, then the complaint can be filed in the city or county in which the Plaintiff lives.
There are several defenses that the Defendant can provide in response to a divorce complaint:
- Denial – The Defendant denies that grounds for divorce happened.
- Condonation – The Defendant admits it had happened but states that the Plaintiff has already forgiven the Defendant for their actions. The Defendant needs to provide proof that this is the case.
- Recrimination – The Defendant claims that the Plaintiff committed the same act being used as grounds for divorce in the complaint.
- Reconciliation – Resuming a romantic relationship with the intent of living together again.
- Time Barred – The act listed as grounds for divorce in the complaint happened too long ago.
- Technical Problems in the Pleading – Failing to follow the technical requirements for drafting and/or filing a divorce complaint.
The discovery process is the most expensive and time-consuming part of divorce proceedings. After each party has made their claims with the court, they are required to answer questions called “interrogatories” about their claims, provide supporting paperwork to the court, and/or appear in court for further questioning.
Negotiations involve both parties, often through their attorneys, deciding on terms by which they believe the court will agree to let them live. This can include division of property, alimony, child support, how future child-related expenses will be handled, and more. A person must seek the help of an attorney during this process, or they may not receive everything that they deserve.
Child Support & Custody
Divorce is always an upsetting and emotionally draining experience, and it is even worse when there are children involved. Ideally, the divorcing couple can keep their children out of the divorce, though this is not frequently the case. When a divorce involves children, parents need to discuss sensitive topics such as child support, custody, and arrangements for events in the child’s future, such as college. Below is a brief overview of the circumstances in which a divorce attorney assists their client in handling children in divorce.
Custody litigation is the process by which the court decides which party is awarded custody according to what is in the best interest of the child(ren). This can include joint custody, with the custodial parent being either mother or father, and drafting a visitation schedule that is ideal for both parties. An attorney can represent each parent in court and support them in making their case. Additionally, an attorney can help their clients keep their children’s well-being as the top priority amidst an emotionally turbulent proceeding.
Child support is often a sensitive topic for divorcing parties to discuss. In the state of Virginia, the courts use a chart to suggest the amount of child support paid to the custodial parent. This chart is based on the income of each parent and the number of children that are to be supported. If this information is provided during the consultation, then attorneys can estimate the amount of child support that will be awarded.
Criminal & Traffic
Having an experienced and high-quality attorney is vital when a person is charged with a criminal offense or major traffic infraction in Yorktown, PA. Here is a summary of how a defense attorney can help when a person is facing serious charges:
Depending on the severity of the crime, the result of criminal charges can range from severe fines to lengthy prison time. Virginia residents can rely on a criminal defense attorney to represent them in the following kinds of cases:
- Assault and Battery
- Domestic Violence and Abuse
- Drug charges
- Shoplifting and Larceny
- Fraud and Embezzlement
- Weapons Charges
- Prostitution and Solicitation
- Sex Crimes
- Child Pornography
- Federal Crimes
These general categories represent a variety of possible charges that are classified as either misdemeanors or felonies. Misdemeanor charges are considered less severe, but generally, result in hefty fines. Felony charges often result in prison time and are considered a much more serious offense. In either case, the person being charged could end up with a criminal record that negatively impacts the rest of their lives. Qualified attorneys work to keep their client from being convicted of these crimes, or do their best to negotiate so their client receives the least severe punishment possible.
Traffic Violation Defense
Traffic violations, including everything from minor safety infractions to DUIs, are taken seriously in the state of Virginia. A person can be fined heavily, lose their license, and even face time in jail depending on the severity of their offense and whether it’s their first one. The traffic cases with which an attorney can represent a person are the following:
- Reckless driving
- License suspensions
- Inattentive driving
- Traffic sign and speeding infractions
- Following too close
- Out-of-state driver citations
- Commercial truck driver citations
- Habitual offenders
- Restricted driving privileges
- Hit and run
In these cases, an attorney may be able to convince the courts to reduce a person’s fines and restore his or her driving privileges.
Adopting a child is a wonderful time in a person’s life. To do so often requires them to jump through a lot of hoops and satisfy the state’s requirements. An attorney can assist a person in the following adoption cases.
The most common case, stepparent adoptions involve a custodial parent’s new spouse adopting their child as their own. An attorney can assist the custodial and stepparent in meeting the requirements for adoption and having the absent parent sever all ties with the child(ren).
Agency adoptions are a complex and nuanced process. An experienced adoption attorney can assist parents in navigating the process and filling out the lengthy paperwork associated with adopting a child through an agency.
Parental Placement Adoptions
Parental placement adoptions, also called private placements, involve the child’s birth parents choosing an adoptive family. These adoption proceedings take place in the Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court. The adoptive family must meet specific requirements outlined by the state of Virginia, file the correct paperwork, and receive approval from the Department of Social Services before the court considers a placement petition. An adoption attorney can help both the birth and adoptive parents navigate this complicated situation and help each party achieve their desired result.
Adult adoptions typically involve step parents of adult children who have never officially been adopted. In these cases, the stepparent may have a policy in which the stepchild is not a legal beneficiary because they are not technically the step parent’s child. An attorney can assist these people in setting the situation right and ensuring that the adult stepchild is legally adopted and can receive any benefits to which the stepparent’s birth children are entitled.
Other Adoption Issues
Other adoption issues with which an attorney can assist their clients is anonymity in adoption for both the adoptive and birth parents, post-adoption contact agreements, adoption of a child by their relatives, and contested adoptions.
Will & Probate
Drafting a will is one of the most important things an adult can do for themselves and their parents. A will allows a person to control who receives their property after their death. An attorney can assist a person in drafting a legally air-tight will so that a probate court does not decide who gets their possessions, which can often result in a lot of stress and conflict for their living family.
Personal injury cases are covered under tort law. The purpose of tort law is to provide an injured person with adequate compensation for their injuries. Personal injury cases cover a wide range of situations, including injuries related to traffic accidents, medical malpractice, and defective products. These cases are complex and often involve dealing with insurance companies, which can be an overwhelming process for a person who is suffering from an injury. A personal injury attorney represents the injured person in court and works to get them compensated for their physical and mental injuries. Additionally, personal injury lawyers will not charge fees until their case is won, which protects the injured from financial duress if their claim is denied.
The residents of Yorktown, VA, may find themselves in a situation where they need the help of an experienced attorney. Regardless of their case, they can feel confident that the Denbigh Law Center can provide quality legal counseling.
E-mail Correspondence Warning
Unless you are a current client, DO NOT send us (or any attorney, for that matter) questions, comments, fact patterns, etc., which may contain personal or confidential information. We may already be representing the ‘opposing party’ in your case.
This web site is not intended to establish an attorney/client relationship with those who use it to make initial contact with our office. By writing to any attorney without knowing if that attorney currently represents your opponent, you may be giving away important information about your case. (This situation can arise with any attorney to whom you write on the web. So, unless the attorney is your attorney, be very careful about what you say.)
Most attorneys, including Denbigh Law Center, take all precautions to avoid conflict-of-interest situations. Most will check (to the extent the information exists in the e-mail) electronic correspondence against current and past client lists before acting upon it. However, that is sometimes not enough to prevent the attorney from learning the confidential information. In such a case, the attorney may have no choice but to use that information in his or her current client’s behalf. In every case, check first to determine if the attorney can represent you without conflict before sending secret or confidential information over the internet. (Sorry to be so “frightening” about this, but this is important stuff.)
Further, we simply are not able to answer personal legal questions over the internet or provide personal advice beyond what is contained in our extensive web site. The attorney-client relationship is too precious to relegate it to the impersonal nature of the Internet. There is almost always much more information that we need to properly answer a question and provide appropriate guidance to you in order for you to effectively address your situation. And the best way to get this information is in a face to face setting. A consultation with an attorney in our office is not terribly expensive, and we will provide you with tangible, useful information in exchange. If you have a concern about a matter involving the law, please give us a call.
Now with that said, we would be pleased to receive your comments and questions about our site or our firm, or a request that we contact you to schedule an appointment.