Serving the Needs of Virginia Families for over 25 years
General Information about Family Law: We will be posting some general information about family law that you might find interesting. It is not legal advice; any such advice should come from an attorney who is working for you and knows the facts of your specific situation. These pieces of information will not be exhaustive in one area, but rather, address different topics at various times.
March 11, 2020
#2 Social Media, Texting And Electronic Evidence: Whatever you put on social media, or that others post about you, may arise as evidence in a case against you. If you post a picture of yourself with your new lover, or of yourself inebriated, or smoking marijuana, you should anticipate it surfacing in your case. If you text your lover with naked pictures, they can be incriminating exhibits; likewise if your lover posts incriminating data or pictures, and your spouse has access to them directly or through a friend of your lover, and if they can be authenticated (and are relevant), they can be used as evidence against you.
Similarly, if you grouse about your marriage, your children, your spouse or are engaged in any illicit or other behavior adverse to the family’s well-being, that may appear as evidence in your case indicating the marriage breakdown or as impeachment if you testify otherwise in court.
Once the case is filed, you should not simply delete the electronic data, whether social media posts, texts, emails, or other forms of communication. If discovery has issued, and perhaps even beforehand, that may be considered spoliation of evidence and cause you (and your lawyer if he or she directed its destruction) significant trouble. Besides which, much can be recovered through forensic experts such as those used in many divorce cases. Many of my clients have brought the family or the spouse’s hard drive to a forensics company to have the hard drive imaged and held for use at trial. Password protection may be an initial obstacle, but it can be overcome by obtaining a court order permitting access to protected files.
The obvious solution to avoid future problems is to cease using social media for anything related to your family or marriage before getting embroiled in the family break-up. The older the adverse material you posted, the less impact it may have in court (unless you lie about it, in which case you face a credibility problem). Speak to your counsel about these issues as he or she may have some solutions that do not amount to spoliation of evidence.
Last, be very careful not to run afoul of the laws on electronic interception and evidence. There are many such laws, both state and federal; they are complex and the violation can lead to serious consequences. Be sure to address the laws with your counsel before you engage in any surreptitious interception (for example, audio or video recordings) of your spouse or others in the hope of using it as evidence at trial.
January 28, 2020
#1 Information Gathering: Talk to a family lawyer before talking to your spouse. When contemplating divorce or separation, it is useful to speak to a family lawyer before you speak to your spouse. This sounds counter-intuitive, but planning your exit strategy and assembling data in advance can save you significant costs and eliminate some stress. After all, knowledge is power. If you cannot have an attorney meeting beforehand, do so as soon as possible after you have spoken to your spouse or significant other. This is important to do even if you hope to save your marriage or relationship as the knowledge imparted to you in such an information-gathering session can help guide you in marriage counseling or therapy as well as in a relationship-ending situation.
January 3, 2020
The October 14, 2019 LawLine presentation by the attorneys of Family Law & Mediation Center, PLC, titled "Equitable Distribution: A Practical Application of Virginia's Statutory Guidelines" has been viewed over two hundred times. The presentation received a rating of 98.48% and reviewers commented: "Excellent presentation by both presenters. Concise, yet thorough in canvassing the topic." " Solid presentation." "Great!"
December 23, 2019
Season's Greetings and best wishes for a peaceful and prosperous New Year!
Please be advised that our offices will be closed the following dates: December 24, 25, 26 and January 1.
We look forward to working with you in 2020.
December 23, 2019
Fairfax Circuit Court Judge David A. Oblon provided guidance on good reasons to seal a divorce case in his opinion in Falkoff v. Falkoff, issued December 6, 2019. Although Judge Oblon's letter opinion is not precedential, it does provide insight into the factors a court considers, or should consider, when contemplating a request to seal a divorce case.
Five factors courts could consider when assessing whether to seal a case, according to Judge Oblon:
1. Particularized proof of harm.
2. Privileged materials, personally identifiable information and trade secrets.
3. Ancillary or tangential information.
4. Protection of children, when harm or potential harm is shown with particularity.
5. False information.
Virginia has a strong presumtion in favor of open judicial records and Judge Oblon stated that "the advantages of open files usually outweigh the disadvantages of closed records."
October 14, 2019
Leslie Weber Hoffman and Amy L. Mirabile presented "Equitable Distribution: A Practical Application of Virginia's Statutory Mandates" a one-hour Continuing Legal Education course with Lawline. The course was broadcast live and recorded at Lawline's studio in Manhattan. If you are an attorney and interested in continuing your legal education, view the course here.
March 10, 2016
Effective March 28, 2016, Family Law & Mediation Center, PLC, will relocate to Suite 510, 3050 Chain Bridge Road, Fairfax Virginia 22030. Our telephone and fax numbers will remain the same.
January 29, 2016
Leslie Weber Hoffman has been recognized for her legal expertise and professional stature as part of the Martindale-Hubbell Bar Register of Preeminent Lawyers.
January 12, 2016
Amy L. Mirabile has a five-star client rating on Avvo.com, including the following review, posted by a former family law client on October 13, 2015:
"Amy is a highly skilled, brilliant attorney. Not only did she successfully handle my case but was also comforting during this very difficult time in my life. I could not be more satisfied with the outcome, her hard work and dedication were eminent throughout the entire process. Amy is invaluable as an attorney and I would recommend her services to everyone. I am truly grateful to her!"
Read other client reviews on Amy L. Mirabile's Avvo.com profile.
January 7, 2016
Leslie Weber Hoffman continues in her role as Chair of the Virginia State Bar Standing Committee on Professionalism by presiding at the first Harry L. Carrico Professionalism Course of 2016 in Alexandria, Virginia. All newly admitted members of the Virginia State Bar are required to participate in this course within their first year of practice in Virginia.
January 6, 2016
Excerpt of a client review recently posted on Avvo.com by a former family law client of Leslie Weber Hoffman:
"Discovering Ms. Hoffman's team was not coincidental at a time when I was in great need of legal counsel. I contacted Ms. Hoffman and her incomparable team in a life altering single broken marital matter moment of emergency and was immediately assured of the finest positive end legal results which were successfully achieved."
Read the entirety of this and other client reviews on Leslie Weber Hoffman's Avvo.com profile.
Leslie Weber Hoffman is recognized once again as a top divorce lawyer in Virginia in the December 2015 edition of the Washingtonian magazine.
Leslie Weber Hoffman receives a rating of 10.0 on Avvo.com. Access her profile and peer endorsements at Avvo.com.
April 26, 2013
Divorce law is an ever changing field. Leslie Weber Hoffman speaks about representing an array of clients in trying times. Read more at Laws.com.
Family Law & Mediation Center, PLC, is named as one of U.S. News & World Report's Best Law Firms in Washington, D.C. in the areas of family law and family law mediation. See more at U.S. News & World Report.
Leslie Weber Hoffman is recognized in Northern Virginia Magazine as a top lawyer in Virginia. See more at Northern Virginia Magazine.
Leslie Weber Hoffman is recognized for the second time as a top divorce lawyer in Virginia in the December 2013 edition of the Washingtonian magazine. See more at Washingtonian.