1. Home
  2. /
  3. Fairfax, Arlington & Northern

In the event of a divorce, without an agreement between the parties, courts will decide matters of property division, spousal and child support, and child custody. Instead, spouses can choose to enter into marital agreements before marriage, or after marriage but before separation, to avoid the court process in the event the couple divorces.

Pre-marital Agreements

Premarital, or prenuptial agreements, are agreements a couple enters into before getting married that become effective once the parties are married. They provide couples an opportunity to plan for their upcoming marriage and potential divorce. The agreement can discuss issues such as the role of each spouse in child rearing, what will be classified as separate and marital property, property division after a divorce, and the allocation of labor and resources during the marriage.

While couples typically don’t go into marriage expecting divorce, it can be beneficial to plan for that occurrence while the relationship is in a positive place rather than waiting until a divorce occurs when a relationship is likely to be more tense and divisive. A premarital agreement can help protect the rights of each spouse in the event of a divorce and help ensure that property division after divorce will be fair and based on the spouses’ mutual agreement.

The Virginia Code establishes the topics that a premarital agreement can cover, which includes:

  • The rights and obligations of each of the parties in any of the property of either or both of them;
  • The right to buy, sell, use, transfer, exchange, abandon, lease, consume, expend, assign, create a security interest in, mortgage, encumber, dispose of, or otherwise manage and control property;
  • The disposition of property upon separation, marital dissolution, death, or the occurrence or nonoccurrence of any other event;
  • Spousal support;
  • The making of a will, trust, or other arrangement to carry out the provisions of the agreement;
  • The ownership rights in and disposition of the death benefit from a life insurance policy;
  • The choice of law governing the construction of the agreement; and
  • Any other matter, including their personal rights and obligations, not in violation of public policy or a statute imposing a criminal penalty.

A premarital agreement can address child support and child custody and visitation issues for any future children, but the agreement may not be enforced. If the parties separate, they can choose to abide by the terms they set in the agreement. However, in the event they disagree and the court becomes involved, the court will make child support and custody decisions based on what is in the best interests of the child, based on various factors, and not rely on the agreement.

The existence of a premarital agreement has many benefits in the event the couple ultimately chooses to divorce. With a premarital agreement that covers necessary issues, such as property division and spousal support, the divorce process will likely be expedited and less costly. If the parties are able to agree to all of these terms then the court is not required to make the decisions for the parties, so typical procedures involved in court hearings are avoided (such as discovery and the presentation of evidence).

The parties can revoke or revise a premarital agreement after they’re married, as long as both parties agree and the new agreement is in writing.

Postnuptial Agreements

Postnuptial agreements are generally the same as premarital agreements, except they are entered into after the couple is already married. These agreements typically cover the same topics as those discussed in prenuptial agreements and offer the same benefits. There are various reasons why a couple may choose to enter into a postnuptial agreement after marriage, but common reasons include a spouse inheriting a sizable estate and wishing to keep those assets separate property, or the creation of a business by one spouse that wishes to keep those business interests as separate property.

Typically, if a business is started during a marriage by one spouse, that business interest is marital property. However, a postnuptial agreement (or premarital agreement) can establish otherwise and set out the interests of each spouse in business assets in the event of a divorce.

A separation agreement is a type of postnuptial agreement, since it is entered into after the parties are married. However, separation agreements are entered into after spouses have decided to end their relationship. A separation agreement will establish the parties’ rights and obligations regarding marital debts and assets after a divorce. If the couple has children, the separation agreement will likely also address child support and child custody and visitation issues.

However, even if the parties agree on issues of child custody, support, and visitation in a separation agreement, the court must approve the agreement to ensure it is in the best interests of the child. If the parties do not have minor children and enter into a separation agreement, it shortens the required time of separation before divorce from 1 year to 6 months. Additionally, the existence of a separation agreement provides the spouses greater control over the disposition of assets rather than letting the court decide. Separation agreements can also cover issues that the court doesn’t have jurisdiction over, such as post-secondary education expenses.

Whether you have chosen to enter into a marital agreement with your spouse, or soon to be spouse, or are deciding whether or not to sign one, our family law attorneys can help you protect your rights.

What Other Clients Have Said About Our Family Law Practice

Professional Problem Solver

Joanna was an absolute angel! Professional, knowledgeable, compassionate and patient. She listened to gain understanding of my concerns. She outlined a plan in a clear and concise manner. She achieved the best case outcome for my difficult situation. Very pleased with the results, and have no reservations about recommending her to anyone in a challenging situation that needs resolving by a sharp, clear-thinking pro.

Vincent

Highly recommended

Joanna Foard has been my family law attorney for the past several months, and I have felt so supported and attended to. She spent so much time with me on our initial consultation, and put me at ease and felt like a friend. My case has been very challenging and there has been so much uncertainty. I felt a relief just having her represent me. She got right to work without missing a beat and truly took my financial concerns into account. She has been honest and straightforward. She has not only been incredibly responsive, but she has shown she truly cares about my situation and wants to help bring resolve and peace. She responds to emails quickly, and if I call unexpectedly, she has either taken the call or returned the call in a timely manner. She is kind and supportive. She even sent a heartfelt sympathy card when I lost my grandmother. I don’t know any attorney who would take the time to do that. She is thorough and thinks out of the box. She is clear and concise, but that’s not to say she won’t take the time needed to ensure my questions are answered. Although she is not able to see my case through to the end due to her out-of-state move, she has never dropped the ball, and has only treated me with respect and consideration. I recommend her without reservation.

Anonymous

The Personal Touch

After consulting with a few attorneys, I hired Joanna to work my case because she made me feel at ease. I couldn’t believe how responsive she was to every question and concern I had. She often proactively followed up just to see how I was doing if she hadn’t heard from me in a few days. She is thorough, informative, and personable. Just what I needed while going through one of the most difficult times of my life.

Anonymous

The best there is.

Joanna Caccioppoli is a consummate professional, and more. She was extremely helpful throughout my divorce; not only with the outstanding legal advice she provides, but with empathy. Should you contact her, she is quick to get back to you. She works hard to get you what you deserve. She pulled my losing battle into an utter victory. I could not be more thankful to have had her in my corner.

A.J.

A Genuine People Person who Happens to Practice Law

Joanna was by far the kindest and most considerate attorney I have hired. From our first encounter through the conclusion of our case, my wife and I had no doubt that our best interest was at the forefront of her mind. She and her team worked efficiently to make the best use of the fees we paid. Joanna also expertly explained Latin-based legal terminology to us in plain English, so that we knew exactly what was going on. The case was resolved to our satisfaction and I highly recommend her services. I will not hesitate to pick up the phone and contact Joanna again, should the need arise.

Nick

Divorce completed in 8 weeks

Joanna was attentive to every detail of my case. She was available for my questions and returned my calls and emails promptly. Joanna’s attention to detail and compassionate heart made me know I was not just another file in her case-load. She is a compassionate attorney who goes above and beyond to make sure her clients feel cared for and know that she is taking care of them. She prepared me for court by running me through all the questions that would be asked, so I never felt off guard. Joanna made a very difficult situation as smooth and painless as possible.

Tamela

Professional, Passionate, Proficient and very Pleasant to work with!

Joanna assisted with navigating a difficult divorce agreement when emotions were running high. My original lawyer failed to move proceedings along at an appropriate pace, and I hired Joanna to pick up from where he left off, and from Day 1 Joanna was on the ball, holding the opposing party accountable for their actions, and ensuring a timely and suitable resolution to our case.

She stuck to the facts, allowed the truth to be showcased, and stood her ground when personal attacks came our direction. With Joanna in your corner, you never have to feel alone. She will defend you and your position like a Pitbull if necessary, but was always great to work with, and carried with her an upbeat demeanor at all times.

I’d highly recommend Joanna’s services to anyone that needs not only professional representation, but also a friend as you navigate through a difficult scenario!

Alex

Professionalism, honesty, and efficiency… Joanna has it all!

I hired Joanna after a long drawn out battle of a divorce. Once I finished my divorce I went to Joanna with the intention of getting my child to my planned home with my new husband. Fast forward just a few months and we are now married and happily residing in Hawaii. Throughout the process Joanna was always honest, to the point, and efficient in what she expected of the courts and how my situation looked. I would recommend her to anyone looking for someone who can get results and be forthright in what you can expect.

Shawn

Clear and compassionate

I consulted with Joanna regarding a dispute over some intricacies of a contract. She instantly understood my case and was wonderful at quickly explaining what breaches had occurred and what options I had moving forward. When I didn’t understand a finer point, she was happy to explain it until I did. Speaking with Joanna is a pleasure and I cannot recommend her highly enough for her kind and straightforward professionalism.

Samuel

Savior

Ms Johana Foard and her colleagues took over my Divorce case that had been lingering for over 2 years with no hope in sight!!! My other attorney took advantage of me being out of State, after thousands of dollars! Within 3 weeks Johana and her staff closed out my divorce even after opposing counsel was dragging her feet and not sending in the signed agreement that my ex- wife and I had agreed on. Johana took it upon herself to make sure it happened! I would definitely recommend Johana and staff! Thanks Johana!!!

Richard

Amazing attorney

I can’t begin to tell you where I should start when talking about Joanna. She comes across very sweet and innocent, but once you get to know her she is like a lion ready to pounce. I hired Joanna to take over when our previous attorney switched the type of law she was practicing. She picked up in the middle and carried it all the way through. She really makes you feel like you are a friend and not just a client. I would give her 10 stars if I could. Joanna is amazing.

Leandra

We won !!!

Joanna represented me in a domestic violence stalking injunction case in which I was wrongly accused of stalking. She was thoroughly prepared for the hearing, and made sure to answer all of my questions before the hearing occurred so that I knew exactly what to expect, and what questions I would be asked. It is really unnerving to be accused of something that you did not do, and I am so grateful to Joanna for easing my fears and helping get the injunction dismissed! I would definitely recommend her to my family and friends, or anyone who needs an aggressive attorney that truly listens to your concerns and is totally on their side. I can’t thank you enough or recommend you enough, Joanna!

Jutta

Herculean Effort

Joanna is incredibly hard-working, understanding, knowledgeable, and responsive. Besides all that, she’s a pleasure to work with…which is so appreciated given the difficult issues she’s helped us work through. I’ve often thanked her for the Herculean effort she’s put forth on behalf of my family and me. I would highly recommend Joanna.

Anonymous

Honest lawyer who keeps it real!

When you first meet with Joanna it is like you are talking to an old friend. She is very knowledgeable along with being empathetic to your situation. Don’t let that fool you though, as soon as the time is right the boxing gloves come on and she is prepared and ready to fight.

Anna

Look No Further For Family Law Representation

Obviously when you require legal services it’s awesome to find someone that you can be confident with and comfortable in your dealings.

Joanna Foard is that attorney!

She is easy to speak with, detailed when it comes to that moment when you stand before the bench and most importantly prepared.

What a relief to be represented in such a professional manner!

Thank you sooo much!

Lance

TOP