Glossary of Terms


When a party is having a sexual relationship with someone other than their spouse, it may be grounds for a fault based divorce. The party filing a divorce on grounds of adultery will need to include in the divorce complaint the date(s), location(s) and with whom the other spouse has had sexual relations. Learn more here.



When one party unilaterally decides to move out of the marital home they may be considered to have deserted the home or marriage. This is a fault ground which will allow the other party to file for divorce and have the opportunity to seek temporary and permanent spousal support and a determination on issues related to custody, visitation and child support. Learn more here.


Custody Evaluations

If parties are unable to reach agreements on custody and visitation, it is possible to have the court order a custody and visitation evaluation to be conducted by a trained professional. The evaluator will provide advice and recommendations on custody and parenting time and may perform psychological testing. Learn more about custody evaluations here.


High Net Worth Cases

Representing the wealthy presents unique challenges, and often requires specialized knowledge of the various trusts utilized by wealthy individuals. The attorneys at ShounBach are experienced with the valuation and division of complex business and/or property interests, and estates with large net worth. Contact one of our many attorneys at ShounBach with experience in this area. Learn more here.


International Matters

Whether the parties live in different countries or have assets abroad, the attorneys at ShounBach can help you resolve your family law matters. Learn more about international matters here.


Interstate Matters

Whether the parties live in different states, or own assets in a state other than Virginia, the attorneys at ShounBach can provide the representation you need to resolve your family law matter. Learn more here.


Military, Retirement, Survivor Benefit Plans

A federal statute, the Uniformed Services Former Spouse Protection Act, permits a state in divorce proceedings to award a share of a military service member’s retired pay to the member’s spouse.

Virginia courts may also order a military service member to name his or her ex-spouse as beneficiary of the military survivor benefit plan (SBP). Many other federal statutes and regulations govern the rights afforded to former spouses of military personnel with respect to medical, commissary and exchange policies.

The nature and extent of a military spouse’s rights will vary depending on the length of the couple’s marriage while the member was on active duty. Learn more here.


U.S. Government Pension and Retirement Benefits

U.S. Government employees or retirees, and their spouses, have rights and benefits available to them either under the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) or the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS), as well as with respect to Thrift Savings Plan (similar to private (401(k) plans) and survivor benefits. U. S. Government pensions are divisible at divorce in essentially the same manner as private pensions.


Juvenile Court

For unmarried parents, or married couples separated but not yet seeking a divorce, ShounBach can help you reach a resolution or obtain a court order on matters of custody, visitation, child and spousal support through a Juvenile Court action. Contact the experienced attorneys at ShounBach to find out how they can help.


Protective Orders

If you or your child is fearful for their life and/or safety, contact ShounBach to find out whether grounds exist to seek a protective order. Learn more about protective orders here.


Contempt/Rule to Show Cause

If a party is not complying with a court order, contact ShounBach to find out how to obtain an order compelling a party to abide by that order. Learn more here.



Court orders and/or agreements related to custody, visitation and child support are subject to modification based upon a material change of circumstances. Spousal support may also be modifiable depending on the provisions of a prior agreement or court order. Court orders related to property division are generally non-modifiable, but it may depend on the specific provisions of a prior agreement or court order. Learn more here.


Settlement Agreements

In an effort to resolve some or all issues involving matters of property, custody, visitation, spousal support, child support and attorney’s fees, parties can sign a written agreement that they intend to be binding and made enforceable as a court order. Parties need not have grounds for divorce or be separated to enter into these Agreements. Learn more here.


Attorney’s Fees

The court in a divorce or juvenile actions may award attorney’s fees to one party or the other. The basis for awarding fees varies between the divorce and juvenile courts. Contact an attorney at ShounBach to learn more about how you can be awarded attorney’s fees in your family law matter. Learn more here.


Fault-Based Divorces

If you have not been separated for the requisite period of time to file for a no-fault divorce, you may be able to qualify for a fault-based divorce. However, some of these grounds for divorce are difficult to prove, in which case it is beneficial to have a competent legal representative on your side to make sure your best interests are protected. In Virginia, there are four grounds for a fault-based divorce, as listed below:

  • Adultery, sodomy and/or buggery
  • Conviction of a Felony
  • Cruelty
  • Desertion

Learn more here.


Same Sex Divorces

Virginia now recognizes same-sex marriage and consequently same-sex parties who are legally married can now file for divorce in Virginia. Learn more here.


No Fault Divorces

A no-fault divorce can be filed in one of two possible scenarios. The first is when the couple have lived separate and apart for one year. In Virginia, this is the most common ground for divorce. The second instance is when the couple have no minor children, have lived separate and apart for a period of six months, and have a signed agreement resolving all issues arising out of their marriage. Learn more here.


Parental Alienation

Parental Alienation occurs when one parent manipulates a child into showing unwarranted fear, disrespect or hostility towards the other parent. This manipulation can cause emotional harm to a child if left unchallenged. If you or someone you love is being subjected to parental alienation, contact one of the attorneys at ShounBach who have experience in dealing with these matters. Learn more here.


Mental Health Evaluations

The court on motion of either party can order one or both parties to undergo a mental health evaluation if a party’s mental health is at issue in matters related to custody and/or visitation. Learn more here.



Enmeshment usually occurs when the relationship between parties and child is without appropriate boundaries. This causes confusion for the child regarding the traditional responsibility and hierarchy of the parental-child relationship, with the parent embracing the child as more of a best friend than a parent. This confusion may lead to unrestricted behavior and a sense of false entitlement by a child. To learn more about enmeshment and how to deal with these behaviors, contact an attorney at ShounBach.

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