Articles Posted in Supreme Court of Virginia

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Contrary to the conclusions of the lower courts in this divorce case, Richard Levick’s marriage to Deborah MacDougall was not voidable or void ab initio, and therefore, the circuit court had authority to distribute the marital assets consistent with the marital agreement and to continue its adjudication of the divorce proceeding. During a divorce proceeding ten years after the marriage of the parties, Levick asserted for the first time that his marriage to MacDougall was void ab initio, and therefore, he could repudiate a marital agreement requiring him to pay spousal support and to distribute the marital assets. The circuit court agreed and ruled that the marriage was void ab initio. The court of appeals reversed in part, concluding that the marriage was merely voidable, not void ab initio. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that Levick failed to rebut the strong presumption favoring the validity of his marriage. View "Levick v. MacDougall" on Justia Law

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Samantha Cucco filed for divorce from Michael Luttrell. The circuit court entered a final decree of divorce that incorporated a Property, Custody, and Support Settlement Agreement (the PSA) executed by the parties. Pursuant to the PSA, the divorce decree provided that Luttrell’s monthly spousal support payments to Cucco would terminate “as a result of action by the Court taken pursuant to [Va. Code 20-109]…relative to cohabitation.” Luttrell later filed a motion for adjustment of spousal support, alleging that Cucco had been cohabiting continuously with her fiancee for at least one year. In response, Cucco argued that because her relationship was with another woman, she was not “cohabiting” within the meaning of section 20-109(A). The circuit court concluded that only opposite-sex couples could cohabit for purposes of section 20-109(A), denied Luttrell’s motion, and awarded Cucco attorney’s fees pursuant to the cost-shifting provision in the PSA. The Court of Appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the Court of Appeals and vacated the award of attorney’s fees, holding that the Court of Appeals erred when it concluded that same-sex couples cannot “cohabit” for purposes of section 20-109(A). Remanded. View "Luttrell v. Cucco" on Justia Law