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Family Law Practice Areas

Contested Divorce

Even the assistance of legal counsel can’t always help couples resolve the key issues necessary to terminate their marriage. In many cases, their dispute must be solved through the courts. These so-called “Contested Divorce” proceedings rely on a trial judge to resolve the often-difficult issues of property division, spousal support, and child custody, support and visitation. Due to the complex nature of the hearings and their long-lasting implications, an experienced family law attorney is essential to protect your interests.

Our attorneys  work closely with you to understand all of the unique issues surrounding your separation and impending divorce. Mahoney Nashatka Richmond offers decades of experience to ensure that your long-term interests are protected and the results are returned in your favor.

Family law is all we do, and we will work hard to put our myriad resources to work for you as you navigate your way toward a new beginning.

Complex Equitable Distribution/High-Asset Divorce

Equitable distribution of your marital estate is not simple math, especially when there are complex considerations such as separate property or business assets.

The family law attorneys of Mahoney Nashatka Richmond, PLLC provide sophisticated counsel for divorces involving high incomes and complex assets. Our team approach provides the analysis and strategy to reach a practical and efficient settlement of your property and finances.

Our years of experience dealing specifically in family law, and high-asset divorces places us in an excellent position for a favorable outcome of complicated matters.

We know these complex laws and have represented business owners, corporate executives, professionals and other high earners in these type of cases. Our lawyers capably address the common issues that arise in a high-asset divorce, including:

  • Separate property vs. marital property;
  • Valuation of closely held businesses;
  • The marital residence and other real estate;
  • Division of retirement benefits;
  • Deferred compensation;
  • Loans and debt;
  • Spousal support (alimony);
  • Premarital/Prenuptial agreements.

Our philosophy is to encourage mediation and negotiation, reserving court as a last resort. We explore creative options, such as buyouts and trade-offs of other assets, to divide your estate in a way that reflects your priorities. However, some issues of complex, high-asset property division in a divorce can only be resolved through litigation. At MNR, you are represented by skilled trial lawyers.

We guide you through the divorce process, preparing you for decision-making on the important issues: support, asset distribution, your children’s future, tax implications, business valuation tactics, best business practices and the consequences of your decisions.

Separation Agreements/Uncontested Divorces

Separation agreements help couples avoid costly, stressful and time-consuming courtroom disputes over the likes of property, assets, debts, spousal support and child custody. Yet signing a binding separation agreement without a knowledgeable legal family law advocate by your side can result in years of consequences. Whether you choose us to draft your separation agreement, or look to us to review one drafted by your spouse’s attorney, we’ll help you understand your rights and negotiate terms that protect your interests and avoid long-term ramifications.

Military Divorce and Benefits Division

Although the process surrounding the divorce of military personnel is no different than that faced by civilians, several factors surrounding military employment can make the process more difficult and time consuming. To name just a few: military pensions, health insurance coverage, gross income calculations and the federal regulations determining the benefits to divorced spouses. Whether you are a member of the military or the spouse of a service member, you can depend on our attorneys’ years of in-depth experience to represent your interests and rights under both federal and state laws.

Dividing the Property

Along with the normal Virginia property division laws, the federal government has enacted the Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act (USFSPA) that governs how military retirement benefits are calculated and divided upon divorce. The USFSPA is the governing body that authorizes a direct payment of a portion of a military retirees pay to the former spouse.

The federal laws will not divide and distribute any of the military members retirement to the spouse unless they have been married 10 years or longer while the member has been active duty military.

Child Support and Spousal Support

In Virginia, both child support and spousal support/alimony awards may not exceed 60% of a military member’s pay and allowances. The normal Virginia child support guidelines, worksheets and schedules are used to determine the proper amount of child support to be paid.

For these reasons, you need someone who understands the ins and outs of a military divorce in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Mahoney Nashatka Richmond has traveled down this road many times, and will work diligently to get the best results for our clients.

Collaborative Divorce

Collaborative law refers to the process of removing disputes from the “fight and win” setting of a courtroom into a “troubleshoot and problem solve” setting of negotiations. Thus, a collaborative law divorce is a process by which parties use mediation and negotiations to settle their divorce. Note that it takes two willing participates for a collaborative law divorce to work. If your spouse is reluctant, mediation and negotiations may be fruitless.

What are the benefits of using a collaborative divorce?

  • Informal setting
  • Information exchange is free, open, informal and honest
  • Saves time
  • You can decide how to handle post-settlement disputes
  • You negotiate a result that works for you

What is the process of a collaborative law divorce?

Our attorneys understand the mediation and negotiation process of collaborative divorce. We work closely with you to find out what you want to accomplish through the process, what your limits are, what you are willing to ultimately accept. For example, items such as child support need to be hammered out before collaborative negotiations begin. Know what you need, and why.

Eventually, we meet with your spouse and spouse’s attorney. This “four-way” meeting will probably occur on a regular basis. Collaborative divorces often include other professionals like child custody specialists and accountants. It is important that these individuals are party-neutral so that their input is not influenced by bias. Typically, party-neutral professionals of this sort are committed to helping you settle your case outside of court.

Sometimes, if the parties are having difficulties reaching agreements, a licensed mediator is brought into the picture. Mediators are individuals who are knowledgeable of the law and procedures and are strategic and skilled in guiding the parties to reach an agreement they are satisfied with.

Both parties and their attorneys sign a “no court” agreement that directs both of the attorneys to withdraw from the case if the case does continue to litigation in court.

Contact a family or domestic relations court to file your divorce papers and settlement agreement. Because you have gone through a collaborative law divorce, this filing will be a simple, uncontested procedure.

Collaborative divorce can save you time, money, and the stress of litigation. At Mahoney Nashatka Richmond, we are here to help you reach a solution that is best for everyone involved.

LGBT Divorce and Family Law

With the expansion of marriage rights to Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender couples in the Commonwealth of Virginia, Mahoney Nashatka Richmond, PLLC has worked diligently to provide a full array of divorce and family law legal services to same sex couples. From premarital agreements and child custody and surrogacy to divorce and separation agreements, our legal experts are well-versed in helping same sex couples protect their personal and financial interests and be strong advocates for their rights under the law.

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, or Transgender divorce can be legally complex, and even more so when a couple has children. At MNR, we put the needs of our clients front and center, and will guide you through the path – mediation, collaboration, and/or litigation – that will best achieve your desired outcome.

In other areas, such as adoption, despite the progress in the LGBT communities, there are still some challenges depending on the type of adoption being sought.  This is particularly true in the international arena where several countries prevent adoptions by gay parents.

In Virginia, you either adopt alone or are married. Two unmarried individuals cannot adopt a child together.  Adoptions in Virginia are:

  • Agency
  • Stepparent
  • Close relative
  • Parental placement
  • Adult

While Virginia code does not provide for a “second parent” adoption by name, a stepparent adoption is a viable tool to finalize an adoption for a married LGBT couple. A stepparent adoption can be obtained if the parents are married and is recommended if both parents are listed on the birth certificate as the presumed parents of the child. We know the U.S. Supreme Court case, V.L. v E.L., decided March 7, 2016, upheld the adoption of a same-sex couple, stating that a final decree of adoption must be given full faith and credit by other states.


Post Divorce Disputes

Both parties want to remove the stress that led to a separation and to live well following a divorce. However, conflicts over finances, childcare obligations and the terms of court orders can unfortunately lead divorced couples back into the legal arena. Any number of issues can arise that cause you to determine that your divorce agreement is no longer effective or being properly followed.

Post-divorce disputes, commonly referred to as post-judgment or post-decree matters, include enforcement of a final decree of divorce and other orders as well as modifications of those orders. Enforcement actions may become necessary when a party misses support payments, creates problems with visitation, or fails to fulfill a duty imposed by the court or agreed to in a settlement agreement.  Modifications of child support and/or maintenance may become necessary if a party’s income changes or the needs of the other party or the children increase.

Other changes in circumstance that are addressed in post-divorce litigation are those situations in which a parent desires to change parenting time or parental responsibilities or to move with a child a substantial distance. At times, these disputes are as complex as the original parenting disputes during the original divorce case.  Post-decree parenting responsibility and parenting time modification cases can involve the appointment of a Child’s Representative and may even require a psychological evaluation of the family to determine what is in the best interests of the children.

Our top-rated family law attorneys during these often high-stakes, high-emotion post-divorce disputes can help you determine the best course of action to resolve those conflicts and move forward.

Premarital/Prenuptial Agreements

For many, the most pressing challenges of a wedding center on the best way to celebrate saying, “I Do.” For others, the situation is decidedly more complex. There may be children from previous relationships, family legacy assets to consider or previously owned property or businesses that demand protection. Discussing and negotiating a premarital/prenuptial agreement may not be romantic or at the top of your fun-things-to-do list, but it is a way to mitigate any issues if a marriage dissolves down the road. Mahoney Nashatka Richmond, PLLC is here to protect your interests from the beginning.

Virginia’s Premarital Agreement Act defines a premarital/prenuptial agreement as an “agreement between prospective spouses made in contemplation of marriage and to be effective upon marriage.” It must be in writing and signed by both prospective spouses.

The Mahoney Nashatka Richmond team has successfully negotiated and put together hundreds of premarital/prenuptial agreements over the years. We understand there is no cookie-cutter method to developing premarital/prenuptial agreements; each couple is unique; we help you analyze and weigh the pros and cons of putting an agreement into place, so you can focus on the celebration … and each other.

Marital Agreements

Marriage is a partnership, but with the introduction of business and property ownership, child custody matters or new family inheritances, relationships can have a legal side, too. Mahoney Nashatka Richmond attorneys can help you address your unique marital circumstances through sound legal advice and forward-thinking solutions, and ensure that your goals, your assets – and your marriage – are properly protected.

Entering a marital agreement is prudent when:

  • One or both spouses have brought a substantial amount of property into the marriage;
  • One spouse acquires substantial property during the marriage, i.e. through an inheritance, sale of a business, acquisition of a business, gift, settlement or court award;
  • Both spouses want to put into writing how assets are divided or debt is paid before a separation – to relieve any stress or anger that might accompany such a split if the couple decides to part ways;
  • One or both spouses have a bad history with nasty court battles from previous relationships;
  • One or both spouses have brought children from previous relationships into the marriage;
  • One spouse has brought substantial debt into the marriage.

In many cases, people want to protect the assets that they’ve brought into the marriage and avoid a long, drawn-out court battle if the marriage ends. The attorneys of Mahoney Nashatka Richmond know how to work through complex property matters to achieve the most favorable outcome for our clients.

Custody and Visitation

Determining child custody and visitation can be the most difficult and heart-wrenching part of any parental split, whether the parents are married or not. Working with family law attorneys who specialize in child visitation and custody laws is the best course of action to understand your rights and secure time and visitation with your child or children as the court determines what solution is in a child’s best interest. Our experienced, compassionate family law attorneys have helped hundreds of parents negotiate and finalize custody and visitation issues in their favor and protect the best interests of their children through a firm understanding of the legal process through the court system.

There are generally two types of areas of custody to be determined in Virginia: legal custody and physical custody. Beneath each of these, there are subsections: joint legal custody or sole legal custody in one category, and primary physical custody or shared physical custody in another category.

Physical custody refers to the schedule for the children, and how often they are in each parent’s care.

Legal Custody refers to how important decisions are made for the children, such as where they go to school, in what religious tradition they are raised, decisions related to non-emergency medical care, and sometimes, when and where they are allowed to travel outside of the United States.

Sole Legal Custody is when one parent is granted total authority over decision making for the child. This is unusual, because the court is hesitant to prevent a parent from having a voice in important decisions. Circumstances where this is granted include cases with serious mental illness, untreated drug or alcohol addictions, or abusive relationships.

Joint Legal Custody is the other option and is much more common. With joint legal custody, both parents are given equal authority over important decisions affecting their children’s lives.

Physical Custody is decided by the parents or court. They determine when the children will live with each parent. Usually, there is a regular schedule and then a holiday and vacation schedule. Weekly schedules vary widely, depending on the ages of the children, what each parent’s involvement has been with the children, and where the parents live in relation to each other and the children’s schools, as well as a variety of other factors. In general, a decision is made about when the children will be with each parent during the school year, and then time is set aside for each parent during school breaks, federal holidays, and summer vacation, and other times that may be important in your family.

In determining a visitation arrangement, Virginia courts will consider the best interests of the child. Factors such as the ages of the child and parents, physical and mental condition of the child and parents, the child’s relationships with other important family members, and any special needs of the child are some of the factors the court will consider when determining the best interests of the child and an appropriate visitation arrangement.

Parents may also modify a visitation order, but must first demonstrate that a change in circumstances has occurred warranting a modification and that the new arrangement is in the best interest of the child

Regardless of whether your custodial arrangements are decided by the court or between the parents, issues relating to the children (legal and physical custody, time-sharing and/or child support) may be reviewed and modified by the court until your child is emancipated. This is because the court must always act in the best interests of the child, and those interests may change over time.

Child Support

When parents divorce, it is expected that each parent will provide for his or her child. This is also true when the parents have never been married. In most cases, this means that one parent will pay a monthly amount to the other parent to be used for the child’s needs.

In Virginia, this amount is determined through the use of the child support guidelines. The factors included in the support calculation are the gross incomes of each parent, any spousal support paid between the parents, the cost of work-related child care, the cost of health insurance premiums for the child, and how often the child is with each parent. In addition, there are situations where it appropriate to deviate from the child support guidelines.

In general, child support continues until each child turns eighteen, or, if the child has not graduated from high school, until the child graduates or turns nineteen, whichever first occurs. In addition, there are circumstances where child support can continue beyond these ages, if your child is disabled. Regardless of how support is determined – through a court order in litigation or through mediation, collaborative divorce or negotiation – child support is always modifiable when there is a material change in circumstances.

Spousal Support

One of the most common disputes facing divorcing couples centers on matters of support. Without the guidance of experienced, legal professionals, poorly negotiated spousal and child support agreements can result in years of unnecessary financial challenges and disadvantages. We offer years of experience in guiding divorcing clients through the legal system to help you avoid and resolve support disputes to protect your rights.

We want to help you determine what your needs will be according to your future plans. We encourage our clients to meet with qualified financial planners and we help you find out what you need to know about Virginia divorce law so we can achieve the best possible outcome for you.

Mahoney Nashatka Richmond attorneys fight for the fair compensation of our clients. This means that all of our lawyers and staff are dedicated to handling every facet of your divorce proceedings. We aren’t a huge, multipurpose law firm that handles some divorce cases. We focus specifically on family law, including divorce, child custody, spousal support and property disputes; it’s what we do every day, every month, every year; trust the experience, the respect and the knowledge.

Non-Parent/Grandparent Rights

Most child custody and visitation decisions involve biological or adoptive parents. Yet, in some cases, grandparents, close relatives and others have valid concerns over a child’s well-being in legal child custody decisions.  Though rare, courts have increasingly recognized the rights of these so-called parents as they seek custody and visitation with the children of divorced parents. Our experienced family law attorneys understand the complexity of the law concerning non-parent/grandparent rights, every legal avenue that can be pursued, and what is legally required for non-parents/grandparents to prevail in these cases.

Again, in the end, the courts must always act in the best interests of the child. Mahoney Nashatka Richmond believes the same.


Adoption is a wonderful way to expand your family and open your home to a child; yet, laws governing the adoption process often can be confusing, complex and difficult to understand. No matter what the situation or type of adoption you want to pursue, our experienced family law attorneys can help you overcome the frustrating hurdles and guide you through a legally secure adoption process.

Each type of adoption has its own set of procedures. The various forms of adoption in the Commonwealth of Virginia are:

Agency Adoption

Agency adoption is the most common in the United States. Traditionally, agency adoption happens when a family chooses to adopt through an agency that serves as the intermediary between the adopting family and the birth parent(s).

Foster Parent Adoption
Foster parent adoption is similar, in many ways, to agency adoption, except that the child being adopted has oftentimes been in the care of the adoptive parents for an extended period of time. Although the goal of the foster-care system is to reunite the child with his or her birth family, sometimes it is in the best interest of the child to terminate the parental rights of the biological parents and amend the foster care goals. In that case, foster parents will often come forward to adopt the child.

International Adoption
International adoption is when a child is adopted from another country. In many cases, the adoption is done by an agency that is specially licensed to handle international adoption matters, but the process can be arduous because state and federal adoption laws come into play, as well as the rules of the country from which the child is being adopted.

Parental Placement Adoption
Parental placement adoption happens when a child’s birth parent(s) chooses the adoptive family. But, it’s not always that easy. It mostly depends on how cooperative both parties are during the process.

Domestic Violence

Domestic violence—also known as domestic abuse—is defined as any form of physical, emotional or sexual abuse between two people in a relationship. Depending on the circumstances of your case, a court can order an emergency protective order, a temporary protective order, or a permanent protective order, which can last for up to two years. These orders can also extend to your children. In addition, physical cruelty is one of the grounds for divorce in Virginia.

If you are in immediate danger, call 911. If you are in a safe location and would like more information regarding protection for you and your children, contact Mahoney Nashatka Richmond, PLLC.

Contact Us

Let Mahoney Nashatka Richmond know how we can help – call us to schedule a consultation or speak with an attorney.



  • 4705 Columbus Street, Suite 101
  • Virginia Beach , VA 23462-6749
  • phone757-447-3800
  • Hours of Operation
    Monday – Friday, 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

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