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Susan Leslie Fraser
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Susan Fraser’s Answers

653 total


  • No-Contest/absentee Divorce

    I would like to get a no-contest divorce, but I don't really know where my husband is anymore (separated since 2008). Married in Norfolk, VA, no children and no property.

    Susan’s Answer

    You should retain a private investigator who will try to track down your estranged spouse. Once he has been located, then your spouse can be served with a Complaint for divorce. IF you try to proceed by Notice of Publication (which is obtained by a Court Order authorizing such) you must be able to sign an Affidavit to the Court that you have been diligent in trying to locate him. Check online for private investigators who have good online ratings to be sure that you have someone who will push to find your estranged husband. Then, depending on your county of residence, you may be able to obtain a "packet" from the Circuit Court Clerk's office which is designed to help "pro se "(i.e., by yourself- no attorney) divorce seekers. If not then you may wish to consult with an attorney in your area (preferably one here on AVVO) and see what they can do for you, but the first step really is to use due diligence to locate your missing spouse.

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  • Can I leave the state with my children in order for my family to help me recover from surgery in VA w/out a custody order?

    We are military and the state which I will be traveling is our "home state" where my spouse and I are both from born and raised as well as our children. I do not have time to do an Emergency order or anything. I am not being malicious but need t...

    Susan’s Answer

    If there has been no determination of custody by a court of competent jurisdiction, then you can leave the state BUT how is this going to impact your children's education? Your medical status is important, but it is not the focus of the Court, which would be "The Best Interests of the child/ren" per section 20-124.3 of the 1950 Code of Virginia. You really need to speak with a qualified domestic relations attorney who can talk to you about the details of your situation, and give you a more complete analysis than what can be determined from your short note here.

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  • Who is liable if my dogs are injured due to a company coming to my house leaving the gate open to the fence?

    A gas company made a fuel delivery and the driver left the gate open to my fence. When I let my dogs out I didn't realize the gate had been left opened and they got loose. They turned around and got injured while they were loose. Who is liable for...

    Susan’s Answer

    Unfortunately, you as the homeowner and pet owner have a duty of reasonable care, which includes checking your fences after an authorized person has come onto your property. Best practice is to make sure that you know when such deliveries are being made, and put up the dogs on those days.

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  • What repercussions are there if I sign or don't sign a joint return fearing there may be an issue later?

    I was divorced a year ago and in the MSA it states that during the marriage the couple filed joint returns. If for any reason the IRS audits and finds issue with the returns the Husband is to be responsible. He didn't file the 11 and 12 during t...

    Susan’s Answer

    under IRS regulations, you have the legal right to file as 'married filing separately', and if appropriate, amend that later on to be filed as an amended as married filing jointly- you CANNOT do it the other way around. You need to talk with a CPA as soon as possible about the potential of your filing as an 'innocent spouse' for 2011 and 2012. Then talk to an attorney about filing for a Rule to Show Cause against your husband as to why he should not be held in contempt for failing to file the returns. Ex-husband has no legal basis to sue you for 'penalties and interest' for the 2011 and 2012 based on your fact description-

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  • .How does my son who is in a Federal prison revoke his wife's Power of Attorney??

    My son went to federal prison on a pot charge. He gave his wife Power of Attorney when he left. She said she would wait on him .She now is seeing someone else and has sold his expensive motorcycle. Now he found out that she is going to sale the h...

    Susan’s Answer

    In addition to the good advice of my colleague as to how to terminate the Power of Attorney, a copy should also be recorded at the Circuit Court where he and his wife own the property. That way, legally the 'world is on notice' as of the moment that "Termination of Power of Attorney" is recorded.
    He should also file for divorce, and ask for the appointment of a guardian ad litem because he is incarcerated if he cannot afford an attorney, as divorce attorneys are not appointed by the Court. Alternatively, he could appoint you as his PoA and then have you work with an attorney to represent him in his divorce.

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  • If my husband had separation papers drawn up dividing property, and I signed them, can I ask for changes to be made at divorce?

    My husband had separation papers drawn up for our separation with him keeping mostly everything. I signed them because I did not and could not afford an attorney. I would like to know if I can ask for my part at the final divorce hearing. Would...

    Susan’s Answer

    Unfortunately, unless there is something very unusual about the 'separation papers', these kinds of Agreements are upheld by the divorce courts nearly always. It will depend on the terms in that agreement, but just like any other contract, 'buyer's remorse' is the term that is used to describe when someone agrees to something in writing, and then has second thoughts. The law doesn't often permit a 'second shot' at this when there is a full, complete and on-it's-face-not-one-sided agreement. It entirely depends on the document itself- please take it to a qualified domestic relations attorney in your area or send it via email and speak with an AVVO attorney- check how to contact any of them on the AVVO website-

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  • Can I live on my own with parental consent or should i get emancipated?

    I have lots of problems with my mom and even though I've tried to live with it sometimes it gets out of hand and I think it would benefit me a lot more both in school and work that I live on my own without her interfering

    Susan’s Answer

    Presuming that you do not believe that your issues with your mother have risen to the level of Child Abuse, and presuming that you are at least age 16, then what you have to do in order is as follows:
    1) line up a job that will enable you to (2) find a decent place to live- it may be with another family, but then you'll be putting that family under the Court's "microscope" as to suitability of what room they are wiling to rent to you, etc.etc (3) write up the schedule as to how you will balance school and work and transportation (4) determine what transportation you will use which is reliable for getting you to and from school, and to and from work- (e.g., bicycles are great spring and fall, but have a lot of potential problems in summer and winter) (5) get the services of an attorney who will work with you to get this all set up and THEN and only then file with the Court.
    Emancipation is talked a lot about with teens who see it, incorrectly, as a 'simple solution'.
    Have you tried talking to your school counselor about the issues? If not, please do so immediately because s/he may be able to recommend family-counselors for you and your mom to work these problems through. The "simplest solution" is NOT always the best.

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  • Where should we file divorce, PA or VA? We currently reside overseas, were married in PA but own a house in VA?

    We spent our entire marriage in VA and lived their prior to receiving travel orders. Our daughter was born there, that's where we hold drivers licenses and pay state taxes.

    Susan’s Answer

    From your description, Virginia is the proper venue IF you are military or State Department (Embassy staff/personnel assigned to U.S. Consulate)

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  • Divorce while husband is in prison? Is the rumor that you can get it free true? Do I really need a lawyer, or can I file my sel

    My husband has been in prison for 5 years with 5 to go. We first thought to make it work, but the past year , has shown that he is not willing to make it work. I know he will not be happy with this and will probably fight it, so I'm looking for a...

    Susan’s Answer

    There is an issue with the fact that your husband is in prison,which is that, under the law, a guardian ad litem must be appointed for him because he is incarcerated and therefore deemed 'legally incompetent' for the period he is in prison as a convicted felon.
    "Equitable distribution" is the phrase we use to describe how marital assets are divided - there are a number of facts which the Court can consider in making that division. Since your efforts are what have achieved 'everything', it makes it highly unlikely that your husband would be granted any of those, although for those items which you have obtained since separation began if all were exclusively the product of your post-separation efforts, then they're deemed 'separate' and not 'marital' so he would have no valid claim to them. As far as the spousal support issue, since his commission of a felony appears to be what ended your marriage, it is highly unlikely that the Court would award him spousal support from you. This is a fact- driven set of issues, so get a consultation whether in person, by phone or via email, with one of the AVVO attorneys (check the AVVO directions on how to make contact with any of us) and set up a payment plan for the fees. This will require entry into Court in all likelihood, not just paperwork.

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  • Does a judge forgive back child support payments not made or reduce the amount because father keeps having more kids ?

    My ex husband has not been paying child support to my daughter for 3 years now, he owes me more than 20 thousand dollars. He just refuses to pay when I ask, and there is a court order stating the amount. I will file to collect this now and just fo...

    Susan’s Answer

    Your question is actually two questions (1) can back child support be modified by a Court due to a new child's birth and (2) can court-ordered child support be modified SOLELY because there is a new child's birth? The answer to each is "no": as each child support payment is missed (whether in full or in part) it becomes a judgment against the payor by operation of law. Similarly, while a parent may petition a court to have child support modified due to a material change in circumstances, the mere fact of an afterborn child by statute cannot serve as the basis for the alleged "material change" by itself. Unfortunately, some Juvenile & Domestic Relations Court judges get "lost" on the idea that there isn't reason to 'hurt' the newborn child by putting the parent in jail for non-payment: the entire reason why there is the sanction of putting a 'deadbeat-parent' in jail is because they believe they can flaunt the law. Make sure that you have evidence to show the net financial impact against you for his failure to pay. Also, make sure that you emphasize to the court that he is choosing to support his non-biological children OVER your child- while not a statutory consideration, is something that the Court may use to point out to your ex-spouse how twisted his thinking has become.

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