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Separation Agreements

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Help With Separation Agreements From a Virginia Family Law Attorney

If you are contemplating a divorce, consider this: if you and your spouse are able to agree on some or all of the many issues involved in a divorce, you should consider a separation agreement. These also materialize under various names: stipulation and property settlement agreement, marriage settlement agreement, etc. The simplest version of this is simply you and your spouse discussing the various issues, and then with the guidance of an experienced attorney, committing them to writing. If you can agree on all of the issues: one - you are very fortunate, and two - it would simplify your divorce greatly if you can agree on some, if not all. Any elements of the divorce to which you and your spouse can agree will simplify the ultimate procedure because there will not be as many issues to try in a contested hearing; and it will also reduce the cost and the emotional toll of having fewer things to battle over. You and your spouse know more about this case than the judge hearing it will ever know. So, the optimum solution is for the two of you to agree to as many issues as feasible. Then, under the guidance of a skilled divorce lawyer, perhaps the unresolved issues can be negotiated down to where there are fewer contested issues that remain.

A separation agreement would be the product of a negotiated resolution of some or all of the key matters of the divorce such as child custody and visitation, spousal support, property division, and other issues. Like a Prenuptial Agreement, it would lay the groundwork for a smooth resolution, and avoid the bitter court battles that can take months to complete and cost thousands of dollars.

At Messman Law, PLC, the Hampton Roads lawyer has vast experience helping clients create and finalize separation agreements. Whether you are going through a divorce or simply need a trial separation period, or wish to have a post-nuptial agreement, I can help you understand and effectively resolve the issues at hand.

A separation agreement has many benefits:

  • It reduces the matters in contention
  • It helps reduce or avoid lengthy and adversarial court proceedings
  • It gives you and your spouse control over many of the important family decisions
  • It is cheaper than divorce litigation and mediation
  • It is a binding legal document, much less likely to be contested at a later point

For these and other reasons, I encourage all of my clients to consider if a separation agreement will assist their cause. I am determined to ensure that you understand all aspects of the divorce and help craft settlement agreements that best suit your needs and wishes. In any negotiation attempt towards a settlement, the main thing to remember is the operative word in settlement agreement is "AGREEMENT."

Contact an experienced separation agreement lawyer in Virginia Beach

If you are considering a divorce, but want to limit court battles, a separation agreement may be the right option for you. To schedule a confidential consultation with an experienced family law attorney call or contact me online.

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Preparing For Your Family Law Consultation

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Preparing For Your Family Law Consultation

If you have reached the point where you are considering contacting a family law attorney, you are probably undergoing an emotional and stressful time in your life. Though it will be difficult, you will need to sort out your emotions from the facts in order to proceed because even in family law matters, the court will uses a rational, businesslike approach. The advice and involvement of an experienced family law attorney can help.

The job of your attorney is to use your knowledge of the facts to counsel you on the relevant issues of your case and to help you approach your situation with reason rather than emotion. Many people are surprised by what they learn during an initial consultation since they do not anticipate all the factors that may affect the likelihood of achieving a successful outcome. How could they? An experienced attorney is trained to apply the law to your particular situation and to work with you to get the best results possible.

After you decide to make an appointment for your initial consultation, create a list or a timetable of the events that caused you to turn to a lawyer for your family law case. During the discussion, you may have to address several upsetting issues and the lawyer may ask you some disturbing or pointed questions. You do not have to worry about shocking the lawyer - an experienced attorney has probably already heard a similar story. It is important for you to be forthcoming and honest. If your attorney does not have or know all the facts, she will not be as effective as possible.

Give your attorney a head start on the discovery process by preparing for your initial consultation. Gather as much factual information as possible. Remember, your communication with your attorney is privileged and protected by the attorney/client relationship.

This is a lengthy list. Do your best to gather all of the following information:

  1. Copies of your marriage and birth certificates.
  2. Date of marriage and timeline of events in marriage.
  3. A copy of any domestic contracts (e.g., a prenuptial agreement).
  4. Information about any previous legal proceedings between the spouses or involving any of the children.
  5. Dates and particulars about any previous separations, attempts at reconciliation, or marriage counseling.
  6. The name of your employer and your spouse's employer, including dates of employment.
  7. Social security and driver's license numbers.
  8. Copies of your (single or joint) income tax returns for the last three years.
  9. Copies of your last three pay stubs (if you work outside the home).
  10. Note your spouse's income and other household income.
  11. Name of bank, saving and checking accounts numbers, amounts and whose names are on the accounts.
  12. Stocks, bonds and other investment information.
  13. The value of a pension, whose name it is in and when they began to contribute to the pension.
  14. Note other valuable items such as jewelry, artwork and other collections.
  15. Purchase date, purchase price, remaining balances and current value of real estate holdings.
  16. List all debts including amount owed, to whom, account numbers, when they were incurred, when due and whose name they are in.
  17. Education and employment background of both parties.
  18. Names and ages of children.
  19. Note any "skeletons" that may be at issue, such as drug/alcohol abuse, if either party every committed a crime, domestic abuse, or sexual misconduct.

Remember, the information you provide your attorney is protected by the attorney/client privilege. It is imperative that you be fully honest with your attorney so he or she can help you.

The other important thing to keep in mind is to ask questions. Make a list so you do not forget to ask the things that really matter to you. The adage, "There are no dumb questions," is true. Your attorney does not expect you to understand all of the issues or legal terms and will do her best to avoid complicated legal language. But if you do not understand the meaning of a legal term or any legal procedure, ask for clarification. You need to understand everything that is going on so you can make the best decisions possible.

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Military Divorce Rates

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Military Divorce Rates

Skilled family law attorney serving Chesapeake, Norfolk and Virginia Beach

Life in the service of our country can be hard and our service members face challenges both on and off the battlefield. Additionally, the families of active duty service members must bear many hardships and make a number of sacrifices. Frequent reassignment, long deployments, and on-the-job stress--these can place a strain on any marriage. These hardships have led to a rise in divorce rates among military service members. In 2008, the Pentagon reported that FAQs page.

Our military divorce lawyer can help Chesapeake families

Despite the resilience of the members of our service members and the programs instituted by the military, some marriages are ultimately beyond saving. And for service members, coping with the reality of divorce can be a difficult and isolating experience. During this tough time, a military divorce lawyer from the law firm of Joseph W. Hood, Jr. & Associates/Messman Law, PLC who understands not only the law of divorce but also the realities of military life can be both a comfort and a valuable advantage in the divorce process.

For several years, our founder, Chesapeake military divorce lawyer Mykell L. Messman, has used her legal expertise to help members of the Virginia military community. Her lengthy dedication to the military allows her the unique perspective to understand the particular challenges that our service members face. She uses her unique knowledge to guide her and to serve his clients better during and after their military careers.

Contact a knowledgeable Virginia Beach military divorce attorney today

The military divorce lawyer at Messman Law, PLC understands the special issues that confront active and former members of the United States armed services. That is why, for several years, Mykell has provided legal services — including family law and estate planning — to the members of the Virginia military community. If you are in Chesapeake, Norfolk or elsewhere in VA, call my office at or contact me online to schedule a consultation with our experienced military divorce lawyer.

FAQ Military Divorce

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Frequently Asked Questions: Virginia Military Divorce

Going through a divorce can be extremely hard on anyone. But for military personnel it can be especially trying. Because of the nature of a military career, military personnel often face unique challenges during divorce proceedings. That is why having an attorney who not only understands the law of divorce but also what a military life entails is important.

At the law firm of Messman Law, PLC, our military divorce lawyer in Virginia Beach understands the particular challenges of military life. Founded by a retired United States Navy captain, and now grown by a military spouse and parent, Messman Law, PLC focuses a substantial amount of its practice on catering to the unique legal needs of the large military population in the Virginia area. Her knowledge and understanding of the needs of military spouses during divorce proceedings goes well beyond basic military divorce statistics.

Where should a military member file for divorce?

Many military personnel face frequent transfers and rarely remain stationed in the same place for an extended period. This can create confusion as to what court should have jurisdiction over a military divorce, especially when spouses do not live together. These jurisdictional issues determine not only where the parties must file for divorce but also which law governs the proceedings.

Virginia courts have subject matter jurisdiction over divorce actions where at least one party is a resident of the Commonwealth. Under Virginia law, residents include the following:

  • Any person who has maintained residence in the Commonwealth for at least six months prior to filing for divorce
  • Any member of the armed forces stationed within the Commonwealth
  • Any member of the armed forces stationed abroad who resided in the Commonwealth for at least six months prior to being stationed abroad

Subject matter jurisdiction may exist in more than one state and obtaining personal jurisdiction may be difficult in some contentious cases. As such, it is important to consult a military divorce lawyer in Virginia Beach in order to determine the best jurisdiction in which to file.

What rights does a service member have regarding minor children?

One of the many contentious issues in divorce proceedings is the custody and visitation of minor children. As in most states, Virginia courts examine the relative positions of the parties to determine what division of custody and visitation is in the best interests of the children involved. This can be difficult for service members who may lack the stability of a non-military spouse.

Fortunately, the Virginia Military Parents Equal Protection Act (MPEPA) provides service member parents with some protection against losing visitation and custody rights due to their deployment status. The MPEPA allows military parents to modify custody and visitation orders more easily upon returning from deployment and to delegate their custody and visitation rights to a family member or stepparent during periods of deployment.

Contact a Virginia Beach military divorce lawyer

The Virginia Beach military divorce lawyers at the law firm of Messman Law, PLC understand the special issues that confront active and former members of the United States armed services. That is why, for several years, I (we) have provided legal services--including family law and estate planning--to the members of the Virginia military community. Call my offices at or contact me online to schedule a consultation with an experienced military divorce attorney in Virginia Beach.

Military Divorce

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Virginia Beach Military Divorce Lawyers

Also serving Norfolk and the Chesapeake region of Virginia

The Virginia Beach military divorce lawyers at Messman Law, PLC has extensive experience representing military personnel and their non-military spouses in divorce and other family law matters. I also assist active and retired military personnel with Estate planning issues.

The firm was formerly led by attorney Joe Hood, a retired Navy Captain, who held command at sea, and has served as Comptroller for Naval Base Norfolk.

Now, the firm is led by Mykell L. Messman, an Army spouse of twenty years and a parent of an Active Duty Soldier. Because of this combined influence, I speak your language and am intimately familiar with the unique family law issues facing military personnel, reflected in the high rates of divorce among service men and women.

Virginia has the largest military presence on the East Coast and houses numerous military installations, including the Pentagon. Our Virginia Beach attorney can help you with your family law, divorce, and real estate issues if you are in the military, or a non-military spouse, and one of the parties resides in Virginia or has a connection to Virginia.

Our military divorce attorney has extensive experience in handling family law issues for men and women stationed in the military and their non-military spouses, including:

Contact our reliable military divorce attorneys

To discuss your family law issue with an experienced Virginia military divorce lawyer, please schedule a confidential consultation by calling us at or filling out our intake form. With several years of legal experience, you can rely on our advice and aggressive representation. We accept all major credit cards and have a convenient Beach Tower location. 

Divorce Mediation

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Virginia Beach Divorce Mediation

Legal services in Virginia Beach, Chesapeake and Norfolk

Mediation is an alternate dispute resolution process that can be used to resolve family law disputes and dissolve marriages effectively and peacefully. Because of its nature, divorce mediation is usually less stressful, less costly, and far less damaging to relationships than traditional divorce.

In mediation, the spouses work to resolve issues by consulting a neutral party, called the mediator. The mediator acts as a facilitator to the divorce. While the mediator cannot give legal advice to either party and cannot be the personal attorney for either party, the mediator serves a valuable role in providing information to both spouse and in making sure that the spouses understand what their decisions do.

How a divorce mediator in VA Beach, Chesapeake or Norfolk can help

Parties who choose to work with a divorce mediator do so voluntarily, and they can decide to leave the mediation process at any time. During mediation, either or both spouses can choose to seek legal advice from their own divorce lawyers. You can even request that your attorney In Virginia Beach be present during mediation.

The divorce mediator at my firm has years of experience handling what are often sensitive and potentially hostile issues that crop up during divorce. I am skilled at handling disputes that include the following issues:

A goal of mediation in divorce is to memorialize the terms on which the parties agree in a document. Both parties then have the document reviewed by their own attorney. The Virginia Beach divorce lawyer at Messman Law, PLC prides herself in staying current with divorce law changes, and I enjoy helping spouses come to a positive resolution of their issues. I realize the importance of keeping a mediation moving forward and know how to keep communication open. As an experienced, skilled family law litigator, I remain current on matrimonial law.

Ask us about Chesapeake, Norfolk and Virginia Beach divorce mediation today

Are you seeking a Chesapeake, Norfolk or Virginia Beach divorce mediator? Do you have questions about divorce mediation? Please schedule a confidential consultation by calling me at 757-340-5800 or contacting me online.

Understanding Divorce in Norfolk

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Understanding Divorce in Norfolk, Virginia

Knowledgeable attorney serving Norfolk, Virginia Beach, and Chesapeake

Divorce is the process by which a court of law dissolves the legal marriage between two individuals. This by itself is relatively straightforward. What tends to complicate divorce is the need for the court to resolve other issues implicit in the marriage--spousal and child support, distribution of marital property, and custody of minor children. How the court resolves these issues can have a huge impact on the parties involved. For that reason, it is essential that Norfolk individuals going through divorce--even seemingly simple divorces--secure the representation of a divorce attorney.

At the law firm of Messman Law, PLC, the divorce lawyer has represented clients during divorce proceedings for several years. I understand the emotional and financial difficulties inherent in divorce and am sensitive to the needs of my clients in Norfolk and throughout VA. I use the extensive knowledge and experience at my disposal to safeguard clients' interests.

Talk to our divorce attorneys

Property division is perhaps the most complex aspect of a divorce. In constructing an equitable division scheme, the court must determine:

  • What assets of the parties are marital property
  • How much those assets are worth
  • How the court should divide those assets

Virginia courts generally presume an equal distribution is equitable. This, however, may change upon consideration of a number of factors, such as the duration of the marriage, the ages and abilities of each party, their relative contributions to the marriage, and more.

However, even before the court can equitably divide marital property, it must identify and appraise what is deemed marital property. Marital property generally includes all property either party acquired during the marriage, unless obtained by gift or inheritance. Marital property also includes most jointly held property, as well as pensions, retirement plans, and other deferred compensation. The source of such property, and therefore whether it is marital or separate property, can become a point of contention during divorce litigation. If the source of such property is in dispute, a divorce lawyer must provide the court with evidence of the status of that property.

Once the court has identified marital and separate property, the value of particular property may become an issue. In order for the court to distribute property equitably, it must ascertain its value. This can be difficult, especially in cases of assets of fluctuating value or whose value is open to interpretation. A Norfolk divorce lawyer must often offer expert testimony by appraisers and other evidence of value, as well as argue for a favorable valuation date.

Consult an experienced divorce attorney today

Messman Law, PLC has provided legal counsel in family law matters--including divorce, annulment, support, and custody matters--to clients throughout the Norfolk and Chesapeake areas. I also provide services in estate planning, business formation and real estate transactions. Call the offices at 757-340-5800 or contact me online to schedule a consultation with the experienced divorce attorney.

Types of Divorce

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Types of Divorce in Virginia: Absolute and Qualified

Divorce and Separation in Chesapeake and Norfolk

The Commonwealth of Virginia recognizes both absolute and qualified types of divorce. An absolute divorce (a vinculo matrimonii) is the more typical form of divorce. It provides for a permanent dissolution of the marriage, allows for remarriage of the parties, and puts an end to property claims. It can be achieved through litigation, as in a contested divorce, or negotiation of a divorce settlement in an uncontested divorce. Divorce settlements can also be reached through a cooperative process known as collaborative divorce.

In contrast, a qualified divorce (a mensa et thoro) only legalizes the separation of the parties and provides for support. This type of divorce is not permanent, does not allow remarriage, and does not necessarily terminate property claims. However, there are valid reasons in certain situations to seek a qualified divorce. The skilled matrimonial lawyers in Virginia Beach can discuss contested and uncontested divorce with you and help you decide the best path to take for your divorce.

Grounds for divorce in Virginia

While the most common grounds for an absolute divorce are voluntarily living separate and apart for the appropriate amount of time, alternative grounds that allow a party to obtain an absolute divorce include the following:

  • Adultery within the past five years
  • Conviction of a felony and imprisonment for over one year after the marriage
  • Physical, emotional, or mental cruelty with one year of separation
  • Willful desertion or abandonment for one year

In the case of a qualified divorce, grounds include:

  • Cruelty
  • Reasonable apprehension of bodily hurt
  • Desertion
  • Willful abandonment

Norfolk and Chesapeake Separation

While there is no such thing as a formal legal separation in Virginia, it may be advisable at various times to live apart pursuant to a Separation Agreement that delineates terms and issues of your divorce. The most common ground for obtaining a divorce in Virginia is living separately and apart without cohabitation for a period of one year. A qualified divorce is similar to what is called a legal separation in many states. For additional divorce information, see our divorce FAQs page.

Contact us for compassionate advice on Virginia separation or divorce

Are you seeking a divorce or separation in Norfolk? Do you have questions about separation or divorce in Chesapeake? Please schedule a confidential consultation by calling me at 757-340-5800 or contacting me online. Located in Virginia Beach, I am experienced at all aspects of divorce and separation in Norfolk and Chesapeake and can advise you on the options available for your unique situation.

Steps to Filing a Divorce

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Steps to Filing a Divorce in Hampton Roads, Virginia

How a divorce lawyer in Virginia Beach can help

Most divorces follow substantially the same steps. The complexity of these steps, however, can vary greatly, depending on the dispositions of the parties involved. Uncontested divorces between amicable parties are usually simpler and require less court intervention. Conversely, divorces that are more contentious may require a greater degree of court supervision, and may consequently take longer to complete.

In either case, a party seeking a divorce or one who has received divorce papers should consult a Virginia Beach divorce attorney. The divorce lawyer at Messman Law, PLC represents clients in both contested and uncontested divorces. Your Virginia Beach divorce lawyer works to resolve your divorce as painlessly as possible.

Negotiations

Negotiation and mediation are important tools that divorce attorneys in Virginia Beach use to simplify the divorce process. By settling issues such as property distribution, custody and visitation, and support among themselves, parties to a divorce can remove the need for court supervision. These negotiations can take place before or after the parties file a divorce petition. The court may incorporate any such agreement into the divorce decree, making it enforceable by the court.

Divorce complaint

A divorce formally begins when the party seeking divorce files a complaint with the appropriate Virginia Circuit Court. This is usually a simple document stating the identity of the parties, when the marriage began, the identities of minor children, and alleges the facts necessary for establishing grounds for a divorce. In most uncontested divorces, the parties must allege that they have lived separate and apart for at least six months (one year if there are minor children).

Submission of evidence of the grounds for divorce

Even in uncontested divorces, Virginia law requires that more than the testimony of the parties involved substantiate the grounds for a divorce. This usually requires a divorce attorney to obtain testimony by deposition or affidavit from someone outside the marriage substantiating the allegations of the divorce complaint. In more contentious divorces in which the parties dispute the grounds, live testimony at trial may become necessary.

Settling property, support, and custody issues

If the parties have previously reached an agreement on property distribution, support, and custody, the court will review that agreement for fairness and then incorporate it into the final divorce decree. Otherwise, the parties must provide additional evidence on issues such as their relative financial positions and the best interests of any minor children. The court then reviews this evidence and attempts to construct a resolution that is equitable to both parties.

Final divorce decree

Once the parties establish the grounds for divorce and settle all other related issues, the court issues a divorce decree that legally divorces the parties. This decree may also contain provisions regarding property distribution, support, and child custody.

Consult an experienced divorce attorney today

The law firm of Messman Law, PLC has provided legal counsel in family law matters--including divorce, annulment, support, and custody matters--for clients throughout the Norfolk and Chesapeake areas. I also provide services in estate planning, business formation and real estate transactions . Call the offices at 757-340-5800or contact me online to schedule a consultation with the experienced divorce lawyer in Virginia Beach.

Family Divorce Information

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Divorce Information from a Seasoned Virginia Lawyer

Virginia Beach family law and divorce attorney

Family law is the term applied to the laws and rules developed regarding family relationships. Family law rules define not only the relationships between members of a family but also between a family and society as a whole. More than any other area of the law, family law reflects the values a society shares regarding how people who are related should treat each other. When you are faced with an important life decision regarding a key family relationship, the advice and assistance of a family law attorney often proves crucial to your understanding of the issues involved and your satisfaction with the ultimate outcome of your family law matter.

Typically, family law attorneys assist people in creating the boundaries used to define family relationships. Specific areas of representation include marriage and relationship planning, divorce, paternity, child custody, and child support. Some family law attorneys also provide assistance in the area of adoption.

Marriage

Marriage is a legal and business union as much as it is a romantic one. Because marriage is a legal and business arrangement, it may be wise to consult with a lawyer about the advantages of premarital or prenuptial agreements. Many couples find it helpful to work through financial issues and the potential disagreements such issues can create before entering into a marriage.

Divorce

Divorce is a method of terminating a marriage contract between two individuals. From a legal standpoint, divorce restores an individual's right to marry someone else. The process also legally divides marital assets and debts and determines the care and custody of the children. Each state addresses these issues differently. However, most states follow the same basic principles and use relatively uniform standards.

In some states, such as Virginia, you need to prove fault, commonly referred to as grounds, to obtain a divorce. However, the majority of states allow at least one form of no-fault divorce in which the spouses are not required to prove that the other caused the breakdown of the marriage. If no-fault grounds for divorce are available in your state, either you or your spouse may obtain a divorce, even if one of you does not consent to the divorce. In some states, both fault and no-fault divorce are available.

In most divorces, the primary issues to be decided are alimony or spousal support, property division, and, if there are children, child custody, visitation, and child support. When spouses agree on how to resolve these issues, they can usually obtain a divorce quickly. However, in many cases, divorcing spouses have disputes regarding their post-marriage financial arrangements and the care and custody of their children. Property division and alimony/spousal support are often hotly contested issues in divorce proceedings; yet, the early advice of a family law attorney may be able to impact the ultimate result favorably.

Child Custody and Visitation

The care and upbringing of children following divorce is often an ongoing source of conflict for divorcing parents. Custody must address both physical custody and legal custody. Physical custody typically involves allocating parental rights and responsibilities regarding the day-to-day care and activities of the children. Legal custody typically involves allocating the legal rights and responsibilities associated with the child's upbringing.

Sometimes the parents agree to an arrangement; or as in most case, the court determines one for them. In the past, courts routinely gave mothers physical custody and gave fathers visitation rights. Today, the courts have begun to realize that in some cases it is in the best interests of the children to reside with the father and reverse the roles of the parents. In general, the courts favor joint ongoing child rearing responsibilities with the children residing where it is the child’s best interest and where they will flourish. The advice and assistance of a VA Beach lawyer can help parents to establish child custody and visitation agreements that focus on the interests of the children.

Child Support

Parents must financially support their children. That obligation usually lasts until the child reaches the age of majority (usually 18 or 21 years old depending on state law) or becomes self-supporting. An order for child support may be entered during or after a divorce; and either parent may be ordered to pay support depending upon how custody is arranged. In most states, an unmarried mother may also file a petition for child support in family court, and an order for support will be entered once paternity has been established.

A parent who fails to remain current on his or her child support obligations faces significant penalties. Every state has a child support enforcement office that works with the family court to suspend professional or business licenses; restrict driver and recreational licenses, require payment of future owed sums in advance, or place non-paying parents in jail when child support obligations are overdue. Because of the state specific requirements involved in child support, parents can benefit from the advice and involvement of the family law attorney at my firm when child support issues arise.

Adoption

Every adoption, whether foreign or domestic, requires the action and approval of a court to become final, and each state has its own adoption policies and procedures. Most states have measures in place to assess the fitness of the adopting parents. Adopted children generally receive all the benefits afforded to natural children, and parents owe adopted children the same legal duties of care and support owed to a natural or birth child of the marriage. Stepparent adoption, where a new spouse adopts a child of the other spouse, can be an extremely simple process especially with the consent of the other birth parent.

Each state has its own policies and procedures controlling child adoption. Most states have measures in place to assess the fitness of the adopting parents. Upon adoption, adopted children generally receive all the benefits afforded to natural children and parents owe adopted children all the legal duties of care and support owed to a natural or birth child of the marriage. The Virginia Beach family law attorney at my firm offers adoption-related services, which can help both adoptive and birth parents throughout all phases of the adoption process.

Conclusion

Family relations create a host of legal consequences. Whether you are contemplating marriage or divorce; or are considering adoption, the family law attorney at my firm can explain the laws that apply to your particular situation and help you to make the best choices for you and your family. For further information, please schedule a confidential consultation by calling me at or contacting me online.

Divorce Process

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Filing for Divorce in VA Beach, Chesapeake or Norfolk

The Basics of Divorce in Virginia

Legally divorcing in Norfolk, Chesapeake, Virginia Beach or anywhere in Virginia requires that either you or your spouse be a resident of Virginia or a member of the armed forces stationed in Virginia for six months.

To obtain an uncontested divorce, either spouse can file for divorce provided the two parties have lived separate and apart for at least one year, and the divorce papers claim that irreconcilable differences have caused a breakdown in the marriage. If the couple does not have children, the spouses can enter into a separation agreement and receive their divorce after being separated for only six months.

For a contested divorce, if the spouses are separated less than one year and are not in agreement that a divorce should occur, the spouse seeking a divorce must prove specific grounds for divorce.

The Divorce Process

While it is not legally required that you consult or retain a divorce lawyer before you initiate proceedings, it is highly recommended. This is a major step in your life and you want to be sure you have the benefit of legal knowledge and experience.

To begin the divorce process in Virginia, a party files a Complaint for Divorce with the Circuit Court. After the other spouse is served with the papers, there is a set time to respond. Provided the parties agree on issues such as property and debt division, child custody, and child support matters, the divorce can be obtained without going through a trial. However, when the parties cannot agree, the court sets a future date for a hearing.

Marital Property, Child Custody, and Support in Virginia

In Virginia, assets and debts acquired after your marriage generally are considered to be marital property that is subject to equitable and fair distribution. The court looks at a number of factors in determining how to distribute marital property. Alimony is called maintenance in Virginia. The court has the authority to order alimony at its discretion. Unless the spouses come to an agreement, a court in Virginia makes child custody decisions based on what is in the best interest of the child. Child support in Virginia is based on the combined gross income of the parents and the number of children that must be supported.

An attorney in Virginia Beach can provide the additional information you need about any element of a Virginia divorce.

Speak to my firm for knowledgeable and compassionate divorce advice

Are you seeking divorce help in Norfolk? Do you have questions about how to file divorce in Virginia Beach or Chesapeake? Please schedule a confidential consultation by calling me at or contacting me online.

Divorce FAQs

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Frequently Asked Questions About VA Divorce

Chesapeake and Norfolk divorce help

The Virginia Beach divorce lawyers of Joseph W. Hood, Jr. & Associates (retired)/Messman Law, PLC offer the following answers to some frequently asked questions about divorce:

Speak to an attorney for divorce help in Chesapeake and Norfolk, VA

Are you seeking a Chesapeake or Norfolk divorce advice? Please schedule a confidential consultation by calling me at or contacting me online. I have years of experience in offering Norfolk and Chesapeake divorce help and can advise you on the options available for your unique situation.


What is the standard for determining custody of a child?

In Virginia, the court will make child custody decisions based on what is in the best interest of the child if the parents cannot come to an agreement.

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Can I get a divorce in Virginia if my spouse does not agree to it?

Yes, it is possible to obtain a divorce, regardless of how your spouse feels about it.

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Can I get a divorce if I do not know where my spouse lives or if my spouse lives out of state?

Yes, there are methods available to get a divorce in these situations.

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How is property divided in a divorce?

Virginia is an equitable distribution state. This means that the court divides marital property in a way that it believes is fair. Assets and debts are divided equitably. Not all property is considered marital property. The separate property of each spouse is not included in the property division. You are allowed to keep any separate property you own. The court looks at a number of factors in determining how to distribute marital property.

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What are examples of separate property?

Separate property includes:

  • Property acquired before the marriage
  • Gifts and inheritances acquired during the marriage
  • Property acquired in exchange for separate property, and
  • Any increase in the value of separate property

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What can I do to get a divorce without going to court?

There are options that include mediation and collaborative law that provide alternative methods to obtaining a divorce without going to court. Your Virginia matrimonial attorney can offer divorce advice in this area and can explain these excellent non-adversarial options to dissolve a marriage to you.

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Get Divorce Advice from Experts

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Reliable Divorce Advice from Virginia Beach Family Attorney

Skilled legal guidance in the Chesapeake region

While many divorces can be very straightforward, contentious divorces or those involving large amounts of marital property can quickly become complicated. Parties to such divorces need seasoned legal representation to help protect their interests. This is especially true for the financially disadvantaged party in a divorce action.

At Joseph W. Hood, Jr. & Associates (retired)/Messman Law, PLC, our experienced divorce lawyers know the divorce process and ways to protect the interests of my Chesapeake area clients from start to finish.

The divorce attorneys can help

If you are going through a divorce where your spouse was the primary income generator, you may feel that you are at a distinct disadvantage. However, this is not necessarily the case. Virginia law takes steps to prevent one spouse from using financial advantage for leverage over the other in a divorce action. The law allows spouses to seek attorney fees, spousal and child support, and visitation and custody orders pendente lite (i.e., while the litigation is pending) during divorce proceedings. Divorce attorneys know obtaining such temporary relief during divorce litigation can be invaluable to the financially disadvantaged spouse. That is why I, the Virginia Beach divorce lawyer, aggressively pursue such relief when appropriate, to ensure my Chesapeake clients have the resources to support themselves during litigation.

Divorce lawyer serving Chesapeake, Norfolk, and Virginia Beach

While it may seem like a difficult thing to consider at the start of a marriage, separation agreements negotiated prior to marriage--often called prenuptial agreements--can be a wise decision. This is especially true in marriages where one or both of the spouses have substantial premarital assets. While spouses can also negotiate a separation prior to or during divorce proceedings, the emotional effects of divorce can make reaching an equitable settlement more difficult. Prenuptial agreements allow spouses to avoid these difficulties by planning for potential separation during calmer, less emotional times. A divorce attorney can negotiate and draft a comprehensive prenuptial agreement that can help couples avoid the possibility of a contentious divorce.

Consult an experienced divorce attorney today

Joseph W. Hood, Jr. & Associates (retired)/ Messman Law, PLC provides legal counsel in family law matters--including divorce, annulment, support, and custody matters--to clients throughout the Norfolk and Chesapeake areas. I also provide services in estate planning, business formation and real estate transactions. Call my office at 757-340-5800 or contact me online to schedule a consultation with the experienced divorce lawyers.

Joseph W. Hood, Jr. & Associates/Messman Law, PLC

Convenient Beach Tower Location

Major Credit Cards Accepted

Contested vs. Uncontested Divorces

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Contested vs. Uncontested Divorces

Virginia Beach Marriage Dissolution Attorneys

Many people who are in difficult marital situations delay getting a divorce because they fear the unknown and are worried about the time and cost. They frequently prefer to live unhappily in their current marital situation than to face the unknown and uncertain future decided by a judge. When faced with these difficult circumstances, it is important to know that you have options.

Contested Divorce in Virginia Beach, Chesapeake and Norfolk

Unfortunately, many times spouses cannot agree on the issues surrounding the dissolution of their marriage. In those cases, you should file for a contested divorce. In a contested divorce, both parties bring their issues to court.

Issues that are commonly the subject of disagreement in a contested divorce include the following:

Attorney Messman knows how to fight for you and protect your rights in a contested divorce. In a contested divorce, when the spouses have been separated less than one year and do not agree that a divorce should occur, the spouse seeking a divorce must prove specific grounds for divorce.

Uncontested Divorce in Virginia Beach, Chesapeake, and Norfolk

An uncontested divorce is appropriate in those situations where the parties can agree on all major issues regarding the dissolution of their marriage. I recommend that my clients consider the feasibility of an uncontested divorce since it has many benefits. If the parties were able to reach agreement over the various aspects of their marital situation, they would have more control over the outcome of their divorce. It would allow the clients to make the important decisions regarding child custody, visitation and property division, rather than a Judge. In an uncontested divorce, the clients usually enjoy a less hostile relationship with their ex-spouse. Children often adjust easier to divorce if the parents have been less adversarial during the proceedings. Uncontested divorces are usually less costly, and take less time than a litigated divorce.

Our Virginia Beach divorce lawyer will meet with you to discuss all the relevant divorce issues and prepare a comprehensive settlement agreement that carefully outlines all of the agreed upon terms. The Separation Agreement will then need to be finalized in a brief divorce hearing before a Judge.

Choosing the Best Manner in Which to Move Forward

The knowledgeable family law attorney of Messman Law, PLC has extensive experience in both contested and uncontested divorces. When you sit down with me for a consultation, I will listen to you needs and concerns to help you decide the best way to move forward. I will discuss the feasibility of reaching agreement on some or all of the issues with your spouse, and the best manner in which to bring these issues up for resolution. I will then take the time to explain your options so you will know exactly what to expect. At all times, I fight to protect your rights and preserve your relationship with your children.

A large percentage of the divorces I handle start out as uncontested divorces. However, it is not uncommon for a spouse to alter their position on important issues such as custody and property settlement during the pendency of the case. This is frequently caused by the parties initially believing that they can work out all of the details; however, when the questions are presented, they discover that they actually have disagreements on many of them. This can create hostility among the parties, and necessitate a contested divorce.

In the event that this should occur, I am ready and able to aggressively protect your rights throughout the litigation process. However, I am always open to attempting to resolve the issues. Working with the framework of the items on which you can reach agreement: I will plan an approach to reach the maximum benefit for you. I realize know that this is your case and your decision whether to settle issues or fight. My job is to provide give you the tools to decide what strategy is best for you, and then I aggressively pursue the strategy that you and I develop together.

A Divorce Attorney that Can Help

Do you have questions about Norfolk, Chesapeake, or Virginia Beach contested divorce? Would you like to speak to an attorney about a Norfolk, Chesapeake, or Virginia Beach uncontested divorce? Please schedule a confidential consultation by calling me at   or contacting me online. If you choose to retain my services, your initial consultation fee will be waived.

Contested Divorce

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Contested Divorce in Norfolk, Chesapeake and Virginia Beach

While divorce is always emotionally draining for the parties involved, the legal complexity of divorce varies greatly. In situations where the parties are still amicable, divorce can be quite simple. The parties can negotiate custody and property division outside of court and complete the divorce simply by living apart for the requisite amount of time and filing an uncontested petition in the appropriate Virginia Circuit Court.

What constitutes a contested divorce?

A contested divorce, whether in Chesapeake, Norfolk or elsewhere in Virginia, can be much more complicated. In such cases, the court must usually determine whether there are grounds for divorce. The party seeking the divorce must prove by a preponderance of evidence that at least one of several statutory conditions exist:

  • Adultery
  • A felony conviction and prison sentence of one year or more
  • Cruelty or reasonable apprehension of bodily harm
  • Willful abandonment for a period of one year or more
  • Continuous separation for one year or more (six months if no minor children)

In an uncontested divorce, the parties can establish the grounds easily through affidavits or depositions. In a contested divorce, however, the other party may dispute those grounds, making a trial necessary. When a divorce turns contentious, a seasoned Chesapeake divorce lawyer from the firm of Messman Law, PLC can be a valuable ally. Our attorneys have the litigation, negotiation and mediation experience to provide comprehensive representation during both contentious and amicable divorce proceedings.

Even in cases where both parties want to divorce and do not dispute the grounds, a contested divorce can still occur. If the parties cannot settle issues of property division and child custody prior to filing their divorce petition, the court must decide these issues. This usually involves both sides providing evidence to show why each is entitled to a favorable decision. If relevant facts are in dispute, a trial may become necessary to settle these discrepancies.

Consult an experienced divorce attorney today

Messman Law, PLC has provided legal counsel in family law matters--including divorce, annulment, support, and custody matters--to clients throughout the Norfolk, Chesapeake, and Virginia Beach areas for several years. Our offices are conveniently located and accept all major credit cards. Call us at or contact me online to schedule a consultation with an experienced divorce lawyer.

Divorce

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Virginia Beach Divorce Lawyers

Experienced and effective counsel guides you through the process

When you are in need of a family law and divorce attorney, hire one with the experience and reputation you can trust.

At Messman Law Firm, PLC; we are conveniently located in the Beach Tower (near the Oceanfront). Currently led by Mykell L. Messman, a family law lawyer with several years of experience and a military background, our office incorporates commitment and hard work into our practice of law.

As a knowledgeable family law and divorce lawyer with extensive experience assisting clients with every aspect of a divorce, from the initial steps to filing to post-divorce modifications. I can assist you with litigating a contested divorce or negotiating an uncontested divorce. I am capable of providing informed counsel for military personnel obtaining a divorce in Norfolk and throughout Eastern Virginia.

Alternatives to litigating in open court

As a family attorney, I encourage an alternative to contested divorce whenever feasible, because I believe you should determine child custody, visitation and property settlement issues rather than a judge who barely knows you or your family. This approach has proved extremely effective in saving my clients money and helping them get on with the next phase of their life.

Whenever feasible, I advocate the use of alternative dispute resolution methods such as mediation, arbitration and negotiation because those methods are generally less expensive, less time-consuming and less stressful than contested divorce litigation. If, for whatever reason, a non-confrontational approach is not feasible, I will aggressively fight to protect your rights throughout the litigation and trial process.

Contact Messman Law, PLC

Call or contact us online to schedule a confidential consultation with an experienced divorce lawyer. Our office is conveniently located and accepts all major credit cards. Get experienced legal advice before you act.

Division of Property

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Property Division After a Divorce in Virginia

Virginia Beach equitable distribution lawyers

Virginia is a marital property state, not a community property one. This means that the court will divide the marital assets and debts between the parties, but not necessarily 50/50. The equitable division of property allows the courts to punish one party for unbecoming conduct, such as destroying or hiding assets to prevent the other party from receiving it.

The experienced property division attorney at Messman Law, PLC utilizes years of experience in handling division of property issues for clients to ensure that you get the fairest property settlement possible. I take the time to understand your situation and to educate you about any of the issues you may face concerning your property division.

Issues surrounding division of property in divorce typically fall into two distinct areas: classification and valuation.

Property classification issues

Is the property marital property, separate property, or a combination of both? I help you properly classify your property, and also determine any consequences the classification has on your property settlement.

Property valuation issues

Typically property valuation issues either deal with timing (such as when does the property get valued, i.e., at the time of separation, at the time of distribution, or at the time an order is issued or agreement is made?) and or with worth (how much is a professional business or closed corporation worth? How about stock options, insurance policies, that military pension plan or corporate retirement plan? How much is the antique gun or art collection worth?).

For complex asset division, I regularly use experts and specialists, such as appraisers, actuaries, real estate experts, and business valuation experts to assist us in ensuring you are receiving your fair share of the marital assets. The attorney in Virginia Beach, VA also uses tax advisors, because I know all assets are not created equally. Although two assets may have the same face value, I realize that they may have different tax consequences for you in the end.

Contact our thorough property division attorneys in Virginia Beach

To discuss your property division issues with an experienced lawyer, please schedule a confidential consultation by calling me or filling out the intake form. I may prove to be your biggest asset. We accept all major credit cards and have a convenient Beach Tower location. 

Collaborative Divorce

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Collaborative Divorce in Virginia Beach, Norfolk & Chesapeake

Cooperative strategies for resolving complex divorce issues

A collaborative divorce is a form of alternative dispute resolution. It differs significantly from mediation, another form of alternative dispute resolution, and also differs from a traditional divorce. In a collaborative divorce, both spouses retain separate counsel to assist them in settling their disputes and issues. Neither party may go to court, nor can either party threaten to do so.

During the process, the spouses attempt to work together amicably to try to come to an agreement that resolves their problems. If the parties are not able to agree, the collaborative process comes to an end and the parties can then go to court. The parties must then find new attorneys to represent them. To learn more about the collaborative divorce process, speak with an attorney in Virginia Beach from Messman Law, PLC.

Benefits of Chesapeake, Norfolk and Virginia Beach collaborative divorce

A collaborative divorce is a non-adversarial approach to the dissolution of a marriage. With the help of trained collaborative lawyers, the divorcing parties work to come to an agreement that embodies the issues at the heart of their divorce, and that agreement operates in the best interests of all involved members of the family.

Our collaborative family law attorney has the type of experience and training that can smooth your way through a collaborative divorce. Some benefits of seeking a collaborative divorce under the guidance of our skilled collaborative attorneys include the fact that there is often less hostility because of the non-adversarial approach. In addition, a collaborative divorce is usually quicker than a drawn out divorce proceeding, is more cost-effective, and reduces stress, because it is conducted in a friendlier atmosphere.

Do not hesitate to discuss whether your divorce is suited to the collaborative law process with the collaborative attorney at the firm. The trained divorce attorney in Virginia can guide you through the process and can explain all the details of the proceeding to you.

Speak to our knowledgeable and compassionate collaborative lawyers in Virginia Beach

Are you seeing a collaborative divorce in Virginia Beach, Chesapeake or Norfolk? Do you have questions about collaborative family law? Please schedule a confidential consultation by calling me at 757-340-5800 or contacting me online.

Child Support

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Virginia Beach Child Support Lawyers

Compassionate advice from knowledgeable attorneys

In Virginia, both parents have a legal duty to provide support for their children. The Virginia child support laws provide guidelines and a formula for calculating the child support obligations of each parent. Although these guidelines and calculations can be very confusing, the attorneys of Messman Law, PLC, have extensive experience helping clients understand the Virginia child support laws. I put our years of experience to work for you.

For additional information about my qualifications and the high level of personal service we provide our clients, please click here.

Our Virginia Beach family law attorney makes sure you are aware of factors that can have a profound effect on child support. For example, shared custody of more than 90 nights per year can affect child support payment obligations. However, a parent should not attempt to take on custodial duties simply to reduce child support payments. I also assist clients in addressing issues such as determining income in the context of self-employment.

Assistance with modification and enforcement of VA child custody

In addition, I address issues relating to child support modification requests due to a significant change of circumstances, such as a drastic change in either parent’s earnings. Custodial parents often face hardship when the non-custodial spouse is delinquent in support payments. The Virginia Department of Social Services is quite aggressive in tracking down deadbeat parents and extracting payment by garnishing wages, withholding state and federal tax refunds and other means of enforcement. You may contact DSS on your own, but an experienced Virginia Beach lawyer who is familiar with the agency and their processes can be a valuable asset getting you started.

As with child custody and other issues surrounding your divorce, I can help you attempt to facilitate an agreement regarding child support, or I can aggressively advocate for you in court.

Contact the compassionate child support attorney in Virginia Beach

To discuss your child support matter with an experienced child support lawyer, please schedule a confidential consultation by calling us or filling out the intake form. We have a convenient Beach Tower location nd accept all major credit cards. Let us explain all of your options.

Child Custody

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Virginia Beach Child Custody Lawyers

Reliable counsel on parenting time issues

Child custody and visitation issues are often the most hotly contested aspects of a divorce. At Messman Law, PLC, we have years of experience successfully helping clients involved in child custody and visitation disputes.

Most people are unaware that there are two types of child custody in Virginia: legal custody and physical custody. Legal custody involves the decision-making process regarding the children, including such topics as religious upbringing, medical decisions, and education.

Physical custody is where the children will have their primary residence. Physical custody can be sole, and the child will live with just one parent, or joint, where both parents provide a residence for the child. Physical custody impacts child support, since the parent who has primary custody receives payments from the non-custodial parent.

The child custody and visitation attorney at Messman Law, PLC, employs a unique approach to her family law practice. That team approach takes advantage of the combined experience and diverse backgrounds of all our attorneys, drawing on more than 25 years of legal experience handling child custody and child visitation matters. For additional information our team of attorneys, please click here.

Southern Virginia visitation and parenting time attorneys

I have extensive experience assisting parents in working out a feasible visitation schedule that works best for everyone's schedule and is in the best interests of the children. I work hard to facilitate an agreement between the parties, because I realize that no one knows your children and what is in their best interests better than you do.

I also assist parents in child custody and visitation modifications usually brought about by a significant change in circumstances, including the children being in a threatening environment, a new boyfriend or girlfriend in the picture who is not an ideal role model, and relocation issues.

To discuss your child custody or visitation issue with a Virginia Beach child custody lawyer, please schedule a confidential consultation by calling me 757-340-5800 or filling out the intake form. We have a convenient Beach Tower location and accept all major credit cards. Our firm understands how important your children are to you; let me help you make the right decisions regarding custody and visitation.

Alimony / Spousal Support

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Alimony & Spousal Support

Southern Virginia Alimony and Spousal Support Attorneys

There are many factors to be considered when discussing alimony or spousal support. For example, you must determine whether or not a party is entitled to any support, the type of support, the amount of support, and the duration of any support payments. At Messman Law, PLC, we truly understand the laws governing alimony and spousal support, and take the time to thoroughly explain your options and any obligations you might have.

Our Southern Virginia firm, led by Mykell L. Messman, is methodical, well-disciplined, and will provide you with straight answers to your questions regarding all aspects of divorce, including child custody and child support. In addition to a thorough understanding of the Virginia alimony and spousal support laws, we also use an extensive network of professionals to assist with issues of affordability and asset valuation, such as retirement plans. The opinions of those experts can be critical in determining your alimony and spousal support obligations.

The network of professionals available to the firm includes career counselors to assist stay-at-home parents in their transition back to the workplace. For additional information about the firm's experience, and the benefits of retaining our services, please click here.

At Messman Law, PLC, our commitment to personal service and years of experience set us apart from other law firms handling alimony and spousal support issues. Here are just some of the issues we can assist you with:

  • Permanent Spousal Support: This type of alimony is awarded by the court without a termination date; in order to terminate an obligation to pay permanent alimony you must get a modification order from the court.
  • Temporary Spousal Support: This type of alimony or spousal support is for finite length of time, and will terminate on a certain date.
  • Rehabilitative Spousal Support: Rehabilitative spousal support is available for non-working and working spouses who have been married for more than 10 years, and need financial support while training or re-training to re-enter the job market.

Contact our knowledgeable Virginia alimony and spousal support attorneys

To discuss your spousal support issues with the caring and experienced attorneys at Messman Law, PLC, please schedule a confidential consultation by calling us or filling out our intake form. We have a convenient Beach Tower location and accept all major credit cards. 

Traffic Violations

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Virginia Beach Traffic Attorney

Spirited defense to protect your driving privileges and insurance status

A moving violation has consequences beyond a stiff fine. Points on your license mean higher insurance rates and higher fines or even a suspension of your license for subsequent infractions. The court is not obligated to allow you to attend traffic school to clear your driving record, and in some cases, it is expressly prohibited. Fortunately, Messman Law, PLC can help with an assertive legal defense that rebuts the prosecution's case where it is weakest.

Legal knowledge and courtroom experience make all the difference

Everyone knows someone who has beaten a traffic ticket. They went into court hoping the citing officer would not show up and got lucky. Maybe the judge took an extra moment to look at the citation and saw that material information was missing that rendered it null and void. These things do occasionally happen. However, by going into court without thorough preparation and a strategy for defending the charges, you are treating your court appearance like a trip to the casino. An experienced criminal defense attorney with knowledge of traffic law and the court is a significant asset as you try to limit the damage done to our driving record and insurance coverage.

Generally, traffic violation cases are won on technicalities, which take knowledge of the law to understand and courtroom experience to communicate clearly and persuasively. For instance, red light cameras require posted warnings and regularly scheduled maintenance to be constitutionally valid. Yellow light intervals must adhere strictly to roadway standards. Radar instruments used to gauge speed must be recalibrated frequently. If you do not have a working knowledge of the technical aspects of traffic law, you are unprepared to defend yourself in court.

Have an experienced attorney with you for all court appearances

Having experienced VA Beach lawyers appear with you in court delivers substantive and strategic advantages, but also helps you make a more favorable impression. Citizens who defend themselves in court risk appearing impulsive and arrogant. Even those who are trained in public speaking do not know the protocols and practices of the courtroom. A skilled Virginia Beach traffic attorney knows how to assert your rights and challenge witnesses, while still maintaining the proper deference to the court. This combination of skills greatly enhances your prospects for a favorable outcome.

Contact our reliable traffic violation defense attorney in Virginia Beach

Messman Law, PLC defends clients from Norfolk to Virginia Beach and throughout the Chesapeake region in traffic violation cases. To schedule a confidential consultation, call me at or contact the office online.

 

Convenient Beach Tower Location

Major Credit Cards Accepted

Sex Crimes

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Sex Crimes Lawyer in Virginia Beach

Discreet, sympathetic and staunch defense to sexual charges

Allegations of criminal sexual misconduct can destroy your reputation. A conviction can mean a lengthy jail term and a lifetime of registering as a sex offender. To limit the damage done by your arrest, clear your good name and preserve your liberty, you need a capable criminal defense attorney. Messman Law, PLC delivers positive results to clients facing a variety of sex crime charges, including:

  • Indecent exposure
  • Infected sexual battery
  • Lewd and lascivious behavior
  • Sexual assault
  • Sexual assault of a minor
  • Solicitation
  • Molestation
  • Prostitution
  • Rape

Concerned counsel makes your legal defense a high priority

Our VA Beach lawyer understands how distressing the charges against you are. From the moment you call, I make your case a high priority. I meet with you as quickly as possible to offer the reassurance that you have someone in your corner, fighting for you. Throughout the legal process, I stay in close contact so that you are aware of all progress in your case and can take an active role in helping us help you. Everything you say is held in the strictest confidence, so there is no need to feel any shame or discomfort.

Aggressive defense strategies raise reasonable doubt

Your Virginia Beach criminal attorney assertively challenges all aspects of the prosecution's case. I am familiar with forensic evidence, including DNA, as well as the most effective ways to raise doubt about its validity by questioning police procedures for collecting, processing and preserving such evidence.

Often, sex crime charges come down to the credibility of the complaining witness versus the defendant. As your staunch advocate, I cross-examine all witnesses thoroughly and offer rebuttals to their testimony, presenting the events in the best light for you.

Fair and reasonable plea negotiations

There are certain circumstances in which a "not guilty" verdict is so unlikely that it is best to seek a plea settlement. In such cases, I negotiate firmly and decisively to secure the best possible terms. Often, I am successful in arranging for a plea to a lesser offense that minimizes or eliminates jail time. Though such arrangements can be difficult to achieve, I make every effort to arrive at a settlement that is in your interest. However, the final decision is always yours and I never make a move without getting your prior approval.

Contact a trustworthy sex crime defense attorney in Virginia Beach

Messman Law, PLC defends clients from Norfolk to Virginia Beach and throughout the Chesapeake region in sex crime cases. To schedule a confidential consultation, call me at or contact the office online.

Messman Law, PLC

Convenient Beach Tower Location

Major Credit Cards Accepted

Robbery

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Providing Skilled Legal Assistance After a Robbery in Virginia

Fighting for the rights of the accused through 200 jury trials

A robbery conviction can change your life in ways you may not expect. Unlike theft or burglary, robbery involves the use of force to take someone’s property, making it a far more serious charge with much harsher penalties.  At Messman Law, PLC, we help clients accused of robbery in Virginia Beach by aggressively defending them in court.

Learn more about what constitutes a Virginia robbery charge

There are varying degrees of robbery, and the monetary value of the property stolen affects how the charges are levied.  If you’re convicted of petty larceny, a misdemeanor, you may end up doing time in a county jail. Those accused of grand larceny, however, face felony charges.  A felony conviction may include prison time as well as hundreds or thousands of dollars in fines.  People convicted of felonies also lose certain rights as citizens.

Because robbery is a “face-to-face” crime, the penalties are more severe. Its use of force and intimidation make it a felony charge. Armed robbery involves the use of a weapon during the course of the theft, which automatically raises the stakes for the accused.

Let our experience help you beat a robbery charge

We have the years of experience needed to successfully defend clients accused of robbery.

  • Arrests made after the fact. If you were arrested or detained somewhere other than the crime scene, we investigate how that identification was made.  We scrutinize police records and depositions.
  • Unreliable witness testimony. You may have been a part of an unfair lineup or face prejudice because you were seen in the back of a police car. We examine the circumstances surrounding your case to uncover weaknesses in the prosecution’s case.
  • Court martial cases. Mykell Messman is a military wife and mother who understands what it takes to fight the UCMJ. Our firm routinely helps enlisted soldiers who face criminal accusations.

At Messman Law, we handle even the most complex cases involving robbery charges.  Our criminal law firm offers superior legal service for anyone accused of a Virginia Beach robbery, including military members on active or reserve duty.

Speak with a dedicated Virginia Beach robbery defense lawyer today

We believe that you’re innocent until proven guilty. At Messman Law, we offer comprehensive legal services to help defend you against charges of robbery or theft.  To speak with a criminal defense lawyer who stands by you, contact our firm online or call us at 757-340-5800 to schedule an appointment.

Repeat Offenders

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DUI Repeat Offenders in Virginia

Limiting damage from prior DWI convictions

Additional convictions for DUI/DWI carry greater and greater consequences. The Code of Virginia provides escalating penalties for repeat offenders:

  • a second offense within less than five years carries a mandatory minimum fine of $500 and jail for 20 days to one year
  • a second offense within five to 10 years carries a mandatory minimum fine of $500 and jail for 10 days to one month
  • a second offense within 10 years with a BAC of 0.15 to 0.20 percent results in jail for an additional mandatory minimum of 10 days
  • a second offense within 10 years with a BAC of more than 0.20 percent gets an additional mandatory minimum 20 days in jail with a mandatory minimum fine of $500
  • three offenses within 10 years is a Class 6 felony and includes a mandatory minimum sentence of 90 days
  • three offenses within five years is a Class 6 felony and includes a mandatory minimum six months in jail with a mandatory minimum fine of $1,000
  • a fourth offense within a 10 years is a Class 6 felony and includes a mandatory minimum imprisonment of one year, a mandatory minimum fine of $1,000, and probation up to three years

If you are facing a second or third DUI charge, you’ll rely even more on your Virginia Beach DUI lawyers. Besides jail time, fines and the loss of your license, an additional DUI conviction has disastrous consequences for your auto insurance. One conviction drives up the cost of your policy, but a second or third can make you uninsurable. At that point, getting your license back is a moot point. Messman Law, PLC stands by you, from your first call to us to the conclusion of your case, working hard to minimize the consequences of your arrest to your job, family, savings and reputation.

Additional civil penalties for repeat DUI in Virginia

If your DUI offense is a Class 6 felony as described above and you were driving your own car, that vehicle is technically an instrument used in the commission of a felony and is subject to seizure and forfeiture. The laws governing civil forfeiture make it very difficult to get your car back even if you are not convicted of the DUI.

Driving drunk with a child in the car

Though unrelated to repeat DUI, driving with a minor 17 years of age or younger also carries increased penalties, including an additional fine of $500 to $1,000 and a mandatory minimum of five days in jail.

Contact a repeat DUI defense attorney in Virginia Beach

Messman Law, PLC defends motorists from Norfolk to Virginia Beach and throughout the Chesapeake region on repeat DUI charges. To schedule a confidential consultation, call us at 757-340-5800 or contact our office online.

Messman Law, PLC

Convenient Beach Tower Location

Major Credit Cards Accepted

Reckless Driving

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Virginia Beach Reckless Driving Defense Attorney

Reliable assistance for drivers throughout the Chesapeake region

If you’ve been arrested for reckless driving, you’re facing more than a traffic violation. Reckless driving is a Class 1 misdemeanor offense, punishable by up to one year in county jail, as well as stiff fines and driver license suspension. While it’s rare for a reckless driver to serve jail time, a conviction does stay on your record for up to 11 years, driving up your insurance premiums.

Sorting out the variety of reckless driving charges

Reckless driving is something of a catch-all phrase, covering a number of circumstances, such as:

  • Speeding in excess of 80 mph
  • Speeding 20 mph or more above the posted speed limit
  • Racing
  • Passing or overtaking an emergency vehicle
  • Passing a school bus
  • Passing on the crest of a hill
  • Passing at a railroad crossing
  • Passing two or more vehicles consecutively
  • Driving two vehicles abreast
  • Driving too fast for conditions
  • Failing to give a proper signal
  • Faulty brakes/improper control
  • Reckless driving on parking lots
  • Reckless driving with an obstructed view

A reckless driving conviction is a conclusion based on the totality of the circumstances. Many of these circumstances require factual evidence, and others are open to interpretation. Though judges defer to the judgment of law enforcement officers, they don’t hold the officers’ conclusions to be infallible. A skilled and experienced attorney can have a positive impact on your case.

Challenging the prosecutor’s case to raise reasonable doubt

Your circumstances may support a plea bargain down to a traffic offense that carries only a fine and lets you keep your license. As a defense attorney, I work diligently to present prosecutors with exculpatory evidence that casts doubt on their cases. Often, in light of the defendant’s prior record and good character, a prosecutor may reduce charges when the facts do not support a reckless driving conviction. Though no attorney can guarantee results, I can promise to explore every reasonable path toward a reduction in charges, a dismissal or an acquittal.

Contact Messman Law, PLC for reliable defense to reckless driving charges in Virginia Beach

Messman Law, PLC defends drivers from Norfolk to Virginia Beach and throughout the Chesapeake region. I will fight to protect your liberty, preserve your driver license and save you money. To schedule a confidential consultation, call 757-340-5800 or contact the office online.

Messman Law, PLC

Convenient Beach Tower Location

Major Credit Cards Accepted

Property Crimes

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Property Crimes Lawyer in Virginia Beach

Skilled legal representation in cases from arson to vandalism

In the Commonwealth of Virginia, crimes against property include unlawful acts that deny the rightful owner possession of property or diminish its value. These offenses can be misdemeanors, such as defacing a library book, or serious felonies like arson. Messman Law, PLC proactively defends accused parties to limit the damage done by an arrest. I handle a wide variety of property crime cases, including:

  • Arson
  • Buying or receiving stolen goods
  • Computer trespass
  • Destruction of property
  • Defacing property
  • Juvenile property crime
  • Larceny
  • Trespassing
  • Shoplifting
  • Vandalism

Serious defense to serious charges

Depending upon the cost of the damage or the price tag of a stolen item, a property crime can be a misdemeanor or a serious felony.  If the victim is insistent, as merchants often are when a shoplifter is apprehended, the accused can face aggressive prosecution for even a minor offense. Messman Law, PLC defends your case as zealously as the Commonwealth Attorney prosecutes. From the moment you call, I respond with a vigorous defense of your right to due process. I work closely with you to fashion your best defense under the facts of the case. If a plea negotiation is appropriate, I explore the possibility while remaining steadfast in our determination to achieve the best possible results for your circumstances.

Close personal counsel for juvenile offenders

A high percentage of Virginia Beach property crimes are committed by youthful offenders. Whether they "tag" buildings, buses and street signs or act out in other destructive ways, juveniles who blight our neighborhoods must be held to account for their actions. However, in adjudicating juvenile offenses, the Commonwealth has an interest beyond punishing crime, which is the rehabilitation of youthful offenders. Our Virginia Beach criminal attorney fervently believes in the role of juvenile court to give firm guidance to young people to prevent future delinquency. We advocate strongly for our minor clients to ensure that the juvenile court tempers justice with mercy and always keeps in mind the best interests of Virginia's youth.

Contact a dependable property crime defense attorney in Virginia Beach

Messman Law, PLC defends clients from Norfolk to Virginia Beach and throughout the Chesapeake region in property crime cases. To schedule a confidential consultation, call me at or contact the office online.

Messman Law, PLC

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Murder and Manslaughter

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Virginia Murder & Manslaughter Lawyer Serving VA Beach, Norfolk & Chesapeake

Defending charges from premeditated murder to DUI manslaughter

There is no more serious crime than the killing of another human being. No other crime is as shocking to the conscience, so naturally, it carries the harshest penalties under the law. If you are accused of homicide in Virginia, you must choose your legal representation carefully. You may literally have to entrust your attorney with your life. Messman Law, PLC delivers aggressive representation for defendants in homicide cases. I am ready to fight for you on all matters related to:

  • Capital murder
  • Murder of the first degree
  • Murder of the second degree
  • Voluntary manslaughter
  • Involuntary manslaughter
  • DUI manslaughter
  • Murder of a pregnant woman and/or her fetus

Close counsel and aggressive advocacy

One of the key elements to prove in a homicide case is intent. What was in the mind of the alleged killer? The prosecution can never read your mind, so as long as you exercise your right to remain silent from the moment of your arrest, the prosecutor must construct a case based on circumstantial evidence. On the other hand, your Virginia Beach criminal law attorney does get to know you. Everything you tell me is confidential, so I can work closely with you to know what was in your mind, and argue against the mental elements, such as premeditation, malice or heat of passion. Our close counsel gives you peace of mind that someone is in your corner, fighting hard for your liberty.

Reliable, responsible and realistic plea negotiations

Despite an attorney's best efforts, some cases simply cannot be won. However, even when the facts make innocence impossible to prove, there is often opportunity to negotiate a plea to a lesser offense, which could cut decades off a sentence and salvage that portion of your life. Messman Law, PLC can give you a reliable assessment of your chances at trial and negotiate firmly for your best terms. Though I offer sound advice on whether to accept a plea bargain, the decision is always yours; I never make a move without your consent. I can promise that you will have all the information you need to make the best decision for your circumstances.

Contact a determined murder and manslaughter lawyer in Virginia Beach

Messman Law, PLC defends clients from Norfolk to Virginia Beach and throughout the Chesapeake region against charges of murder, manslaughter and DUI manslaughter. To schedule a confidential consultation, call me at or contact the office online.

Messman Law, PLC

Convenient Beach Tower Location

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License Reinstatement

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License Reinstatement in Virginia

Thorough legal assistance in restoring driving privileges

There are numerous reasons why a Virginia driver might have his or her license suspended or revoked, or is disqualified from operating a commercial vehicle. Each of these reasons comes with different requirements for reinstatement. Messman Law, PLC advocates at hearings, trials and appeals to convince the court that the alleged violations leading to the loss of license did not occur, or that conditions have been met for reinstatement.

Reasons for losing a driver’s license in Virginia

The Virginia DMV lists the following reasons for suspension of a Virginia driver’s license:

  • Failing to pay court fines and costs for convictions for motor vehicle related or non-motor vehicle related violations
  • Failing to either:
    • Properly insure and maintain insurance coverage, as required by law, on a motor vehicle that was issued valid license plates

OR

  • Pay the required uninsured motor vehicle fee
  • Failing to complete a driver improvement clinic
  • Failing to pay child support
  • Failure to pay jail fees
  • A court order based on a reckless driving conviction
  • Providing alcohol to a minor or intoxicated person
  • Excessive accumulation of demerit points related to convictions for traffic violations
  • The presence of a physical and/or mental condition that impairs your ability to safely operate a motor vehicle
  • Failing to satisfy an outstanding judgment related to a motor vehicle crash

The Virginia DMV lists the following reasons for revocation of a Virginia driver’s license:

  • Driving while intoxicated
  • Driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • Driving while suspended or revoked for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • Voluntary or involuntary manslaughter resulting from driving a motor vehicle
  • Taking a driver's license test for another person, or appearing as another person to renew his or her license
  • Providing false information in order to obtain a driver's license
  • Non-motor vehicle related drug violations
  • Making a bomb threat
  • Felony violations in which a motor vehicle was used
  • Failure to stop and disclose your identity at the scene of a crash
  • Three demerit-point convictions for violations (including safety belt and child restraint violations) committed while under age 18

Messman Law, PLC is experienced in all matters related to traffic violations, family law and criminal offenses that contribute to loss of licenses. Our Virginia Beach DUI lawyer regularly handles cases involving DWI and repeat DUI revocations and suspensions for refusal of breathalyzer tests.

Loss of Virginia license for out-of-state driving violations and vice versa

The Commonwealth of Virginia is a member of the Interstate Driver’s License Compact and the Non-Resident Violator Compact. These are reciprocal agreements, which give full faith and credit to license restrictions imposed by courts in member states. If you are a Virginia driver and violate the law in another member state, Virginia will enforce that state’s driving penalties. You may lose your Virginia license until you clear your driving record in the member state. Likewise, if you are a driver from outside the Commonwealth, and you violate Virginia’s driving laws, you may lose your own state driver’s license until you square things with Virginia. Our Virginia Beach DUI attorney assists drivers facing the confusion of dealing with another state’s courts.

Contact a license reinstatement attorney in Virginia Beach

Messman Law, PLC assists motorists from Norfolk to Virginia Beach and throughout the Chesapeake region with having their driver’s license reinstated. We also help out-of-state drivers who must satisfy Virginia requirements in order to have their home state license restored. To schedule a confidential consultation, call us at or contact our office online.

Messman Law, PLC

Convenient Beach Tower Location

Major Credit Cards Accepted

High BAC DWI

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Virginia Beach DWI Lawyers

Vigorous defense from high BAC DWI charges

The threshold blood alcohol content (BAC) for an adult driving while intoxicated (DWI) in Virginia is 0.08 percent. However, just as fines for speeding can increase depending on how fast you were going, penalties for DWI get harsher as BAC rises. If your BAC surpasses 0.14 percent, you’re facing mandatory jail time. Messman Law, PLC skillfully manages DWI cases with aggravating circumstances, such as high BAC or DWI with an underage person in the car. Our established Virginia Beach law firm has the resources to fight your charges and deliver the best possible result.

Penalties for different BAC counts in Virginia DWI cases

Different BAC levels have different consequences for a driver arrested for DUI/DWI in Virginia.

  • BAC below 0.05 carries the presumption that the driver was not impaired by alcohol.
  • BAC between 0.05 and 0.08 indicates the driver may or may not have been impaired by alcohol. Conviction depends on the prosecution demonstrating that a person with a lower BAC could not drive competently because he or she was “under the influence,” though not necessarily legally intoxicated.
  • BAC between 0.08 and 0.14 indicates a driver is impaired. The penalty for a first time DWI includes no mandatory minimum jail time but up to 12 months optional, license revocation for 12 months, a fine from $250 to $2,500 and Virginia Alcohol Safety Action Program (VASAP) classes.
  • BAC between 0.15 and 0.20 indicates a driver is impaired. The penalty for a first time DWI is a mandatory minimum of five days jail time up to 12 months, license revocation for 12 months, a fine from $250 to $2,500, mandatory installation of an interlock ignition device and Virginia Alcohol Safety Action Program (VASAP) classes.
  • BAC above 0.20 indicates a driver is impaired. The penalty for a first time DWI is a mandatory minimum of 10 days jail time up to 12 months, license revocation for 12 months, a fine from $250 to $2,500, mandatory installation of an interlock ignition device and Virginia Alcohol Safety Action Program (VASAP) classes.

Effective challenges to BAC test results

There are many effective ways to challenge forensic tests. At Messman Law, PLC, we use every legal means to raise doubt about the prosecution’s evidence. We firmly negotiate plea settlements whenever appropriate and fight hard at trial when necessary to obtain justice. When you retain Messman Law, PLC, a dedicated DUI lawyer in Virginia stays by your side doing everything possible to minimize the impact of your arrest on your future.

Contact a high BAC DWI attorney in Virginia Beach

Messman Law, PLC defends motorists from Norfolk to Virginia Beach and throughout the Chesapeake region on DWI charges that involve high blood alcohol content. To schedule a confidential consultation, call us at or contact our office online.

Messman Law, PLC

Convenient Beach Tower Location

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Expungement FAQ

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Frequently Asked Questions About Expungements in Virginia

At Messman Law, PLC, our Virginia Beach expungement attorney assists clients with previous arrests to have those records sealed.

Contact a knowledgeable expungement attorney in Virginia Beach

Messman Law, PLC, assists clients from Norfolk to Virginia Beach and throughout the Chesapeake region in obtaining expungements of arrest and court records. To schedule a confidential consultation, call me at or contact the office online.


What is an expungement?

An expungement is an order vacating records of an arrest and the court proceedings related to it. The records are not destroyed, but are sealed and removed from public access. These records may be unsealed later for limited purposes, such as the named party applying for employment in law enforcement or a subsequent arrest for a similar act, like a DWI.

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Who qualifies for an expungement in the Commonwealth of Virginia?

Expungements may be granted to anyone who is acquitted of a crime, whom authorities have declined to prosecute or against whom charges have been dismissed. A party who receives an absolute pardon for a crime he or she did not commit can also have records expunged.

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What is the standard the court uses to decide whether to grant an expungement?

According to the Code of Virginia, the petitioner must demonstrate that the information in the records has the potential to create "circumstances which constitute a manifest injustice." However, a petitioner with no prior criminal record, who was arrested for a misdemeanor, is "entitled" to expungement unless the Commonwealth can show good cause for denying it.

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I was the victim of identity theft. Should I be worried that there is an arrest record out there with my name on it?

If a crime was committed by someone using your name, it is likely that an arrest warrant was issued in your name. The perpetrator may well have been arrested and processed under your name before his or her true identity came to light. The Code of Virginia allows "any person whose name or other identification has been used without his consent or authorization by another person who has been charged or arrested using such name or identification" to seek relief through an expungement. A Virginia criminal attorney can verify whether an arrest record in your name exists, and move to have the record expunged.

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I was arrested in a case of mistaken identity. Do I need an expungement?

When the charge is dismissed because the court finds that the person arrested or charged is not the person named in the summons, warrant, indictment or presentment, the court dismissing the charge shall, upon motion of the person improperly arrested or charged, enter an order requiring expungement of the police and court records relating to the charge.

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DUI/DWI Overview

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Virginia Beach DUI Lawyer

Aggressive defense of your driving privileges

Some resort towns may be lenient with drunken drivers, but Virginia Beach is not one of them. Throughout the commonwealth, law enforcement has gotten much stricter with motorists who choose to drink and drive.  Messman Law, PLC vigorously defends drivers accused of DWI/DUI offenses, challenging the commonwealth to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt. Our steadfast lawyers are with you every step of the way from your first call to us to the final resolution of the charges against you.

Virginia DWI/DUI laws explained

The distinction between DWI and DUI has been blurred over the years. Essentially, a DWI (driving while intoxicated) is proven by forensic evidence collected through chemical testing that demonstrates the excessive presence of an intoxicant, such as blood alcohol content (BAC) over 0.08 percent. On the other hand, DUI (driving under the influence) is proven by reliable observation of impaired driving and associated behavior, such as the inability to perform a field sobriety test. An officer’s observations are routinely supported by video evidence from patrol car’s dashboard cameras.

DWI/DUI is not a traffic violation. It is a misdemeanor crime and even a first conviction means the loss of your license and can result in stiff fines and up to 12 months in jail. DUI repeat offenders face longer license revocations, harsher fines and longer jail sentences. In the Commonwealth of Virginia, it is possible under certain circumstances to plead to a lesser offense of reckless driving involving alcohol, or “wet reckless.” An experienced Virginia Beach DUI attorney can assess whether your circumstances merit a plea bargain.

Implied consent to chemical testing on Virginia’s public highways

Drivers hoping to beat a DWI charge by opting out of chemical testing should know that Virginia has an implied consent statute, which makes it a crime to unreasonably refuse a blood or breath test. A first refusal results in an automatic 12-month license revocation. That’s in addition to any revocation you receive if convicted of the DUI. Second and third refusals are misdemeanors punishable by longer license revocations, fines and jail time. If you are pulled over and refuse a chemical test, you face an uphill battle for license reinstatement. Your Virginia Beach DUI lawyer must somehow demonstrate that your refusal was reasonable under your particular circumstances.

Baby DUI laws target underage drivers

Virginia has a zero tolerance policy towards drivers under 21 who drink and drive. For youths, the threshold BAC for a DWI is 0.02 percent and can result in a one-year revocation of their license. A BAC over .08 percent subjects them to the same penalties as an adult.

Sailors beware: DWI/DUI covers boats as well

In a beachfront community, it’s important to emphasize that the same DWI/DUI laws are in effect on the waterways. It is illegal to operate a motorized watercraft in Virginia waters with a BAC over 0.08 percent. It’s also prudent to note that intoxication is the number one cause of accidental drowning.

Contact a determined DWI/DUI defense attorney in Virginia Beach

Messman Law, PLC offers spirited DUI defense for motorists from Norfolk to Virginia Beach and throughout the Chesapeake region. To schedule a confidential consultation, call us at or contact our office online.

Messman Law, PLC

Convenient Beach Tower Location

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Drugs

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Virginia Drug Crime Attorney

Thorough defense to charges of use, possession and sale of illicit drugs

Virginia Beach, composed as it is of a metropolitan center, busy marina and resort community, is susceptible to drug trafficking, use and abuse. Local law enforcement agencies are necessarily vigilant. If you are arrested here on suspicion of a drug crime, you can expect to face vigorous prosecution to the extent the law allows. Messman Law, PLC provides an equally vigorous defense, safeguarding your Constitutional rights as we work hard to minimize the damage done by your arrest.

Personalized attention from the minute you call

Messman Law, PLC is determined to provide close, personal counsel for all clients. From the earliest possible moment, I respond to your call as quickly as physically possible. I will accompany you at every police interview and court appearance, giving sound guidance and firm support. I make myself easily accessible throughout your legal process, so you can rest assured that your Virginia Beach criminal attorney is making your case a high priority.

Prepared for trial with proactive strategies

Most successful drug crime defenses come on procedural grounds; challenging law enforcement regarding stop and frisk, traffic stop, search and seizure or chain of custody. To prevail in this manner, you need an aggressive attorney who takes a proactive approach and does not simply react to whatever the prosecution presents. Our lawyer in Hampton Roads strongly asserts your Constitutional rights to due process and freedom from unlawful search and seizure. I am not shy or intimidated about challenging law enforcement on their procedures for determining probable cause or gathering, processing and preserving evidence.

Securing your best negotiated solution

Most drug charge cases do not go to trial; rather, they are settled through a sentence negotiation process, or plea bargain. Our Virginia Beach criminal lawyer carefully weighs the prosecution's case to give you the most reliable advice regarding your chances of prevailing at trial versus accepting a reduced sentence on a lesser charged offense. I will carefully explain your legal options so you can make a fully informed choice.

Contact a trustworthy drug crime defense attorney in Virginia Beach

Messman Law, PLC defends clients from Norfolk to Virginia Beach and throughout the Chesapeake region on drug charges. To schedule a confidential consultation, call me at or contact the office online.

Messman Law, PLC

Convenient Beach Tower Location

Major Credit Cards Accepted

Domestic Violence

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Virginia Beach Domestic Violence Attorney

Discreet defense from charges that damage your reputation

An arrest for domestic violence is not only humiliating; it carries serious consequences, including jail time and community service. If you have been accused of domestic violence, you may feel that the law is stacked against you, that your reputation is irreparably tarnished and a wall has now been erected between you and your children. Messman Law, PLC can help with a proactive legal defense that upholds your rights to due process and a fair adjudication.

Mandatory arrests for domestic violence in Virginia

Like many jurisdictions, Virginia has enacted legislation it hopes will reduce domestic violence. These laws give a police officer the power to arrest without warrant a person who has allegedly committed an act of domestic violence, which the officer did not witness. While well intentioned, such laws raise serious questions regarding your constitutional right to due process.  Given the negative impact a domestic violence arrest can have on your reputation, you need an aggressive Virginia Beach domestic violence attorney who will do everything possible to defend against the charges

Securing your parental rights in divorce negotiations

Experienced legal representation for a domestic violence dispute is even more important if you are going through a divorce. A domestic violence conviction could negatively affect your standing in child custody negotiations. Our Virginia Beach criminal attorney is also an experienced divorce attorney; so I  understand how domestic violence charges are sometimes used to discredit one spouse to gain an advantage in divorce proceedings. I provide a determined defense to expose this manipulation and prevent your spouse from hurting your standing in child custody disputes and related issues.

Protections for same-sex couples in domestic disputes

The Code of Virginia governing domestic violence is silent on same-sex couples; however, the Code does refer to "assault and battery against a family or household member." A household member is defined as "any individual who cohabits or who, within the previous 12 months, cohabited with the person."  The trend has been to treat same-sex partners as cohabiting individuals for the purpose of the domestic violence statute. Our Virginia Beach domestic violence attorneys offer the same staunch defense to domestic violence charges to same-sex partners as we do to traditional family members.

Contact an assertive domestic violence defense attorney in Virginia Beach

Messman Law, PLC defends clients from Norfolk to Virginia Beach and throughout the Chesapeake region against charges of domestic violence. To schedule a confidential consultation, call me at or contact the office online.

Messman Law, PLC

Convenient Beach Tower Location

Major Credit Cards Accepted

Criminal Misdemeanor

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Virginia Beach Misdemeanor Defense Attorney

Dedicated advocate for serious criminal offenses

Misdemeanors are less serious offenses than felonies, but still allow for incarceration in county jail for up to a year, along with heavy fines. If you are charged with a misdemeanor in Norfolk or Virginia Beach, you’re in for a serious disruption to your life and possible jail time. Messman Law, PLC works with you from the moment you call to minimize the consequences of your arrest. I have helped hundreds of defendants in bench and jury trials, and I am determined to give you the best legal defense possible.

Code of Virginia classifications for misdemeanor offenses

The Code of Virginia authorizes the following punishments for convictions of misdemeanor offenses:

  • Class 1 — Confinement in county jail for up to 12 months and a fine of up to $2,500, either or both
  • Class 2 — Confinement in county jail for up to six months and a fine of up to $1,000, either or both
  • Class 3 — Maximum fine of $500
  • Class 4 — Maximum fine of $250

A misdemeanor conviction remains on your record and can be used as an enhancement if you are arrested in the future. For example, simple possession of marijuana, first offense, is an uncategorized offense punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a fine of up to $500. A second offense is a Class 1 misdemeanor.

Common misdemeanor offenses in Virginia Beach and Norfolk

Under the Code of Virginia, Class 1 misdemeanors are the most serious of these offenses. Common violations include:

  • Assault and battery 
  • Credit card fraud of less than $200 in value
  • Disorderly conduct
  • Parental kidnapping
  • Recklessly handling a firearm so as to endanger a person or property
  • School hazing that causes bodily injury
  • Sexual battery 
  • Receiving fraudulently obtained goods
  • Reckless driving 
  • Recruiting someone to join a street gang

Youth visiting Virginia Beach should be aware that using a fake ID to purchase alcohol is a Class 1 misdemeanor for which the minimum sentence is a $500 fine or up to 50 hours of community service and the loss of your driver license for up to one year.

For your misdemeanor charge, contact a reliable criminal defense attorney in Virginia Beach

Messman Law, PLC defends clients from Norfolk to Virginia Beach and throughout the Chesapeake region. Attorney Messman is experienced in bench and jury trials on a wide range of misdemeanor and felony charges. To schedule a confidential consultation, call 757-340-5800 or contact the office online.

Messman Law, PLC

Convenient Beach Tower Location

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Criminal Felony

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Virginia Beach Felony Defense Attorney

Dedicated advocate fights serious criminal charges

Felonies are serious crimes that call for state prison sentences of one year or more and the loss of several of your rights as a citizen, including your right to vote, to run for public office, and to own or possess firearms. If you are charged with a felony in Norfolk or Virginia Beach, you face an extremely tough fight to get your life back. Messman Law, PLC has represented hundreds of defendants in bench and jury trials. I am committed to providing a staunch defense for you from the moment you call to the final adjudication of your case.

Code of Virginia classifications for felony offenses

In Virginia, the classes of felonies are based on the severity of the crime and the magnitude of the punishment, with Class 1 being the most serious:

  • Class 1 — Punishable by death or life imprisonment and a fine of up to $100,000
  • Class 2 — Imprisonment for 20 years to life and a fine of up to $100,000
  • Class 3 — Imprisonment for five to 20 years and a fine of not more than $100,000
  • Class 4 — Imprisonment for two to 10 years and a fine of not more than $100,000
  • Class 5 — Imprisonment for one to 10 years or a jail term of 12 months or less, and a fine of not more than $2,500
  • Class 6 — Imprisonment for one to five years or a jail term of 12 months or less, and a fine of not more than $2,500

Types of felony offenses in Virginia

The Code of Virginia recognizes several different types of crimes, including:

  • Inchoate offense — Crimes planned or attempted. Attempted capital murder is a Class 2 felony.
  • Crimes against the person — Violent crimes, including murder, assault with a deadly weapon, armed robbery and kidnapping, are felonies.
  • Crimes against property — Causing the destruction of private or public property. Arson is an example of a felony.
  • Crimes involving fraud — Theft accomplished through deception. If the value of the item sold is sufficient, fraud can be a felony.
  • Crimes involving health and safety — Many drug crimes, including manufacturing controlled substances and possession with intent to sell, are felonies.
  • Crimes against morals and decency — These vice offenses relate primarily to gambling and sex crimes. Conducting an illegal gambling operation is a Class 6 felony. Soliciting prostitution from a minor is either a Class 6 or Class 5 felony. Procuring a person for a house of prostitution is a Class 4 felony.
  • Crimes against peace and order — Offenses related to unlawful assemblies and violent protests, such as rioting. A person armed with a deadly weapon who participates in a riot has committed a Class 5 felony.
  • Crimes against the administration of justice — Interfering with a trial or the honest administration of government. Perjury or inducing someone else to lie under oath is a Class 5 felony. Bribing a public official or a juror is a Class 4 felony, as is accepting a bribe.
  • Racketeering — Virginia has special statutes related to the operation of a criminal enterprise. Ownership or investment in such an enterprise is a Class 2 felony. Money laundering is a Class 6 felony.

For your felony charge, contact a trustworthy criminal defense attorney in Virginia Beach

Messman Law, PLC defends clients from Norfolk to Virginia Beach and throughout the Chesapeake region. Attorney Messman is experienced in bench and jury trials on a range of felony charges. To schedule a confidential consultation, call 757-340-5800 or contact the office online.

Messman Law, PLC

Convenient Beach Tower Location

Major Credit Cards Accepted

Criminal Defense Strategy

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About Our Criminal Defense Strategy at Messman Law

Discover how a Virginia Beach criminal defense attorney can help you

There are lawyers who take criminal defense cases, and then there are criminal defense lawyers. At Messman Law, PLC, we belong to the second group. As your attorney, I focus on criminal defense, standing shoulder to shoulder with my clients. When you’re seeking legal advice from an attorney who sees you as a person, not a charge, Messman Law should be your choice.

Information is power

At Messman Law, I believe that an informed client is the best client. I know that you might be frightened or angry and empathize with you when you’re facing overwhelming choices. I consider it my duty to help you sift through those choices to discover which options work best for you. By eliminating bad choices or unnecessary information, I can help you feel less stressed and more prepared to stand up to the challenges you face.

You can reach us when you need us the most

When you’re facing charges of a serious crime, it’s important that you have access to your lawyer. I make myself accessible to my clients in any way I can:

  • I’ll visit you at home or in jail. Sometimes you can’t come to me — so I’ll always come to you if you’re unable to come to my office.  I make it a point to be where you are, by your side from the bond hearing through the trial.
  • I’m always ready to fight for you. I don’t send associates to do my job in the courtroom. If we go to trial, I’m the one fighting tooth and nail to reduce or eliminate your charges.
  • I keep my costs lower so you can afford the best possible defense. I want every one of my clients to have access to the best possible Virginia Beach criminal defense lawyer.  I don’t charge exorbitant fees or bill you for unnecessary work. You never have to worry about not being able to see me because you can’t afford it.

Everyone is entitled to a fair trial. You deserve a lawyer who defends your rights. When you want the help of a criminal defense attorney who has more than 200 jury trials to her credit, it’s time to call Messman Law.

Contact Messman Law, PLC today to discuss your criminal defense needs

You’re more than the charges against you. At Messman Law, we stand by our clients from start to finish, providing superior legal services at a price you can afford.  Contact our firm online or call us at 757-340-5800 to schedule an appointment to discuss your case.

Breathalyzer Test FAQ

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Frequently Asked Questions About Breathalyzer Tests in Virginia

Contact a reliable DUI/DWI attorney in Virginia Beach

Messman Law, PLC defends motorists from Norfolk to Virginia Beach and throughout the Chesapeake region on DUI/DWI charges including breathalyzer refusal cases. To schedule a confidential consultation, call me at 757-340-5800 or contact the office online.


If I’m pulled over in Virginia, am I required to take a breathalyzer test?

No, and yes. When an officer pulls you over, he or she may ask you to take a preliminary breath test (PBT). This is entirely voluntary. It can only be used by the officer to determine probably cause to arrest you; it cannot later be used in court as evidence against you. However, if you are arrested for DUI and taken to the police station, you will be requested to blow into an evidential test device (ETD), which is meant to collect evidence to be used in the trial against you. This test is covered under Virginia's implied consent law. You can still refuse, but there are penalties for doing so.

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What is the penalty for refusing a breathalyzer test?

Your first "unreasonable refusal" is treated as a civil offense. The penalty is the loss of your license for 12 months. This is additional to any revocation for a DUI conviction that may follow. Subsequent refusals are criminal offenses and carry higher penalties, such as revocation of your license for 3 years, up to six months in jail and a stiff fine.

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What is a reasonable refusal for taking the mandatory breath test?

What the court will consider reasonable is very limited; including evidence that you weren't driving or that you were not on a public road. Unless your Virginia Beach DUI lawyer can present evidence of officer misconduct, there's not much to be done.

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Is a breathalyzer test reliable?

The PBT is considered not very reliable, so its results are not admissible in court. The EDT, however, is considered reliable provided the machine is maintained regularly and operated professionally. Machines must be regularly tested and recalibrated. Operators must be certified. Moreover, the DUI suspect must be processed properly, including a 20-minute observation period to ensure there's no burping, hiccupping or any regurgitation that might bring alcohol up into the mouth.

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How can my Virginia Beach DUI lawyer challenge breathalyzer results?

Forensic test results can be challenged based upon operator error of the machine or the functionality of the machine. Your Virginia Beach breathalyzer test lawyer will check maintenance records and the certification of the operators to see if these are up to date. Your attorney will also look for procedural violations. For instance, a DUI suspect must be observed for 20 minutes before blowing into the EDT. If the suspect is hustled through the test without the requisite observation, the results can be challenged. Finally, DWI lawyers can challenge the initial traffic stop for lack of probable cause. If the stop lacked probable cause, any evidence resulting from a search and seizure after the stop is inadmissible.

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Assault and Battery

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Virginia Assault & Battery Attorney

Staunch defense to misdemeanor and felony charges

If you have been arrested and charged with assault and battery, you face a period of turmoil and uncertainty. Depending upon any number of variables, your alleged offense could range from a Class 1 misdemeanor carrying a minimal sentence to a Class 2 felony with a sentence of 20 years to life. To avoid jail time and a criminal record, you need serious and determined legal representation from an experienced criminal defense attorney. Messman Law, PLC offers a vigorous defense to a wide range of assault charges, including:

  • Verbal assault
  • Assault and battery
  • Hate crime assault and battery
  • Assault against law enforcement
  • Assault against a teacher
  • Assault against a healthcare worker
  • Domestic violence
  • Unlawful wounding
  • Malicious wounding
  • Aggravated malicious wounding
  • Sexual battery
  • Infected sexual battery
  • Assault or battery by mob
  • Hazing

Asserting your right to self-defense

If you have had a violent altercation, you may be able to assert self-defense or defense of an innocent third party. In order for self-defense to be viable, you must demonstrate that you (or the person you defended) were not the initial aggressor and that you ceased the assault when the aggressor ceased his attack or retreated.  If at any point you used deadly force, you must demonstrate a reasonable fear that your life was in jeopardy. Our criminal attorney can evaluate your facts to see if self-defense is practical and advantageous for your case.

Enhancements for attacks against protected persons

The Commonwealth of Virginia has enacted statutory enhancements for public policy reasons. What might be a misdemeanor assault becomes a serious felony if it is directed against:

  • Any person because of his race, religious conviction, color or national origin
  • A judge, law enforcement officer or firefighter in performance of his or her duty
  • A teacher, assistant principal, principal or guidance counselor on school property
  • A healthcare worker in performance of his or her duty

To create a greater atmosphere of respect at learning institutions, the Commonwealth has made it a misdemeanor to cause physical harm to any student at any school, college, or university as part of a hazing ritual. At Messman Law, PLC I challenge the bases for any enhancement to ensure you receive the due process the Constitution guarantees.

Negotiating reductions in assault charges

Just as certain facts can be argued to enhance charges, other elements can be stressed to get charges and sentences reduced. An experienced attorney in Virginia Beach can tell when a prosecutor is confident in a case or when charges have been exaggerated to intimidate a defendant.  Messman Law, PLC, skillfully negotiates reductions in charges and sentencing. I provide close counsel and sound advice to get you through your ordeal and limit the consequences of your arrest.

Contact a skilled and reliable assault lawyer in Virginia Beach

Messman Law, PLC defends clients from Norfolk to Virginia Beach and throughout the Chesapeake region against charges of assault and battery. To schedule a confidential consultation, call me at or contact the office online.

Messman Law, PLC

Convenient Beach Tower Location

Major Credit Cards Accepted

Family Law

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Family Law Attorney Serving Virginia Beach, Chesapeake & Norfolk VA

The family law attorney of Messman Law, PLC can provide you with the answers and information you seek regarding your domestic matter. We utilize a hands-on approach that provides you with the benefit of the military experienced attorney, who has more than 20 years of military and legal experience, and has mentored other lawyers and legal professionals.

Do you want to adopt a child?
Are you contemplating a divorce?
Is your former spouse planning to relocate to another state with your children?
Has there been a significant change of circumstances to warrant a post-divorce modification of custody, visitation or support?
Having a child custody dispute?

Our attorneys in Virginia Beach have extensive experience with all aspects of family law including:

  • Adoption - including stepparent adoption
  • Alimony and spousal support - including determining if a spouse is eligible for support, and the length of time and amount of the alimony or support payments
  • Child custody and visitation - including creating a workable parenting time plan or visitation schedule, as well as assistance with child custody and visitation issues arising out of one parent relocating out of state
  • Child support - including assisting you in understanding the child support guidelines in Virginia, as well as determining if your circumstances warrant a deviation from the Virginia child support guidelines
  • Property division - including classification issues (separate, marital or hybrid property and debts), commingling issues, and valuation of complex assets like professional businesses, stock options, and pension plans
  • Divorce - including contested, uncontested, and military divorce
  • Divorce planning - including advice on properly structuring your bank accounts, bills, and properly titling your assets
  • Military divorce - representing military personnel and non-military spouses in a divorce, including residency issues, property issues, military pension issues, and other issues prevalent in a divorce as well as issues unique to the military
  • Post-Divorce Modifications - including determining if you have a significant change in circumstances qualifying you for a post-divorce modification, such as relocation issues for child custody and visitation modifications, loss of employment for child support modifications, and remarriage for alimony modifications

Contact our caring Virginia Beach family law attorneys

To discuss your family law issues with an experienced Virginia Beach lawyer, please schedule a confidential consultation with Messman Law, PLC by calling us today or by filling out the intake form. We have a convenient Beach Tower location and accept all major credit cards. Our family law firm is dedicated to you, and is committed to personal service for your family law issues.

Criminal Defense

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Virginia Beach Criminal Attorney

Aggressive defense to misdemeanor and felony charges

An arrest can be the beginning of a long nightmare. Or it can be a brief ordeal that you emerge from with minimal damage to your reputation and your finances. Given that a conviction, and subsequent loss of your liberty, can have agonizing consequences for you and be financially ruinous for your family, you need a strong attorney who can provide the vigorous defense your situation requires. Messman Law, PLC delivers positive results for clients facing various misdemeanor and felony charges, including:

Virginia Beach criminal lawyer stands at your side from arrest to resolution

Messman Law, PLC in Virginia Beach provides close personal legal services from the moment you call until the final disposition of your charges. No matter the charges you are faced with, you need an attorney standing shoulder to shoulder with you for every court appearance and every law enforcement interview. Messman Law, PLC makes your case a top priority. I am with you at every crucial turn. I thoroughly investigate your case to prepare detailed challenges to the prosecution. If a plea and sentencing settlement is appropriate, I negotiate from a position of strength to ensure that you get the benefit of any "bargain”. When a trial is necessary to protect your constitutional rights and your liberty, I will utilize any and all procedural and substantive challenges that might give rise to reasonable doubt.

Experience managing a wide range of criminal charges in Virginia Beach

Our Virginia Beach and Norfolk criminal attorneys have successfully represented defendants at trial for non-violent and violent crimes; including drug crimes, assault and battery, DUI/DWI and domestic violence. Our Virginia Beach traffic attorney assists motorists with moving violations that involve high fines and license suspensions, which can threaten clients’ auto insurance through excessive premium increases or cancellations. I work hard to minimize the impact of your arrest, and even help clients who have already been convicted obtain legal expungements to clear their records.

Contact a reliable criminal defense attorney in Virginia Beach

Messman Law, PLC defends clients from Norfolk to Virginia Beach and throughout the Chesapeake region on a wide range of criminal charges. To schedule a confidential consultation, call me at or contact the  office online.

Messman Law, PLC

Convenient Beach Tower Location

Major Credit Cards Accepted

Wills

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Virginia Beach Wills & Estate Planning Attorney

Experienced lawyer safeguarding your future

Far too many people fail to consider estate planning. However, proper estate planning can secure assets for your retirement and ensure that your exact wishes regarding asset distribution are honored after your death. It can also prevent controversy and minimize strife and anger among family members and friends.

At Messman Law, PLC the estate-planning lawyer is highly skilled at helping clients set up an estate plan that meets their exact goals and to draft a will accordingly. Armed with several years of legal experience, our firm is readily able to handle estates of nearly any size.

Whether you are concerned about providing for the guardianship of minor children, creating healthcare directives or drafting a will, an attorney in Virginia Beach can help. We are dedicated to creating an estate plan that meets your needs from the very beginning. Although circumstances may change, we strive to establish a plan that eliminates potential legal issues. We understand that each estate is different and that everyone has unique wishes. As a result, my firm utilizes a variety of estate planning tools to help our clients achieve their estate planning goals, including:

  • Last wills and testaments
  • Advanced health care directives or living wills
  • Powers of attorney
  • Guardianships

Contact our knowledgeable will & estate planning attorneys

Do not wait to start planning your estate. Call 757-340-5800 or contact me online to schedule an appointment with an experienced estate planning attorney. We have a convenient Beach Tower location and accept all major credit cards. Together we can work to provide you with the tools needed to create a proper estate plan.

Practice Areas

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Practice Area Overview

Virginia Beach Criminal Defense and Family Law Attorney

Based in Virginia Beach VA, Messman Law, PLC primarily represents clients in criminal defense, DUI/DWI, family law and divorce matters. Clients benefit from our experience and legal ability.

Messman Law has been helping clients achieve successful legal solutions for several years. No matter the situation, our attorney will take the time to clearly answer your questions and carefully explain your options so that we can advise you on the best course of action to meet your long-term goals.

We offer legal services for the following matters:

Family Law

  • Divorce - including contested divorce, uncontested divorce and military divorce
  • Child Custody & Visitation - including establishing parenting time schedules and establishing both legal and physical custody
  • Child Support - including explaining the Virginia child support guidelines
  • Division of Property - including explaining equitable distribution, properly classifying your assets and debts and valuation issues
  • Alimony / Spousal Support - including permanent alimony, temporary alimony and rehabilitative spousal support
  • Military Divorce - including representing servicemen and women, as well as their non-military spouses
  • Separation Agreements - helping build the foundation for an uncontested divorce
  • Estate Planning – including wills, powers of attorney and advanced medical directives.

Criminal Defense

  • Assault & Battery - including verbal, hazing, hate crimes and assault against law enforcement
  • Domestic Violence – Against a family member or household, these types of charges can not only be humiliating but also carry serious consequences
  • Drug Crimes - including drug trafficking, use and abuse
  • Murder & Manslaughter - including capital, 1st degree, 2nd degree, voluntary, involuntary and DUI
  • Property Crimes – such as burglary, larceny, theft, arson and vandalism
  • Sexual Crimes – including sodomy, indecent exposure, child pornography and rape
  • Traffic Violations – Including speeding tickets, reckless driving and other moving violations
  • DUI/DWI – Driving while intoxicated or under the influence penalties can carry hefty fines

Wills

Contact the Virginia Beach attorneys who aggressively protect your interests

To discuss your family law or criminal defense matter with an experienced Virginia Beach lawyer, please schedule a confidential consultation by calling our office or contacting us online. We have a convenient beach tower location and accept all major credit cards. Let us help you achieve your goals.