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Author: Jon Montagna

Reasons for Divorce in Virginia

Experts say that divorce lawyer inquiries spike during January. In an effort to embrace the “new year, new you,” mentality that defines the month, many individuals make the first move toward ending a stagnant or unhappy marriage in the days and weeks after the clock strikes midnight on New Year’s Eve.

If you are considering wiping the slate of past years by filing for divorce, take the time to gather your thoughts and emotions and begin to weigh your options. These options include the grounds by which you plan to file. You can file for a divorce from bed and board (partial divorce via legal separation) or divorce from the bond of matrimony (absolute divorce) depending on your unique situation.  Here are the acceptable reasons for divorce as set forth by the Virginia State Bar.

  • Willful desertion or abandonment. If a spouse breaks off cohabitation both physically and mentally, there may be grounds for divorce from bed and board (and if the divorce continues for a year after the original separation, there may be grounds for a divorce from the bond of matrimony.) 
  • Cruelty and reasonable apprehension of bodily harm. Proof of a home life made unsafe by physical abuse.
  • “No Fault” divorce. Involves no blame on the part of either spouse. A divorce from the bond of matrimony in these cases requires one year of complete separation.
  • Adultery, sodomy or buggery. Proof of sexual acts outside of the marriage can be used as grounds for a direct divorce from the bond of matrimony.
  • Felony conviction. In the event that a spouse is convicted of a felony and confined for more than a year, the other spouse can file for a divorce from the bond of matrimony.

Though these grounds are the legal standards by which an individual looking to file for divorce should judge their personal situation, the lines are often blurred. Sound legal advice from an experienced family lawyer is necessary even in the earliest planning stages of a separation or divorce.

Whether you are in Newport News, Virginia Beach, Norfolk or any other city in the Hampton Roads region, call the divorce lawyers of  Montagna Klein Camden to discuss your case.

Speeding and Reckless Driving in Virginia Beach

Virginia law enforcement is on especially high alert for intoxicated and irresponsible drivers around the holidays. This is for good reason, as the highest number of alcohol-related vehicle accident deaths occur between Thanksgiving and New Years Eve. Even if you didn’t drive while intoxicated, you may have found yourself stuck with a speeding ticket or reckless driving ticket this season. Do you know your legal options?


A driver is considered to be speeding anytime he or she is operating a vehicle above the posted speed limit. This means that, contrary to the “10 above rule,” you can be pulled over for going even one mile over the speed limit. Consequences for speeding can include a ticket with a fine (generally $5 for every mile over, plus court fees), demerits on your driving record, license suspension and court-ordered driver improvement classes if you are a repeat offender. Your first option in dealing with a speeding ticket is to pay the fine and comply with any other consequences.

If you believe you were falsely accused of speeding, you have the option of fighting the ticket in court. An experienced attorney can help guide you through the process of speedometer testing and other measures of providing evidence for proving innocence.

Avoid speeding by giving yourself plenty of extra time to get where you need to be (always keeping the unpredictable Virginia Beach traffic in mind). Put some music on and calmly follow the posted speed limit.

Reckless Driving

Reckless Driving is most-commonly understood as driving 20 miles over the posted speed limit or operating a vehicle in excess of 80 miles per hour. But did you know that other behaviors also qualify as reckless driving? From the Virginia DMV website:

  • Racing
  • Passing or overtaking an emergency vehicle
  • Passing a school bus
  • Passing on the crest of a hill
  • Passing two vehicles abreast
  • Driving too fast for conditions
  • Failure to give a proper signal
  • Faulty brakes/improper control
  • Driving improperly through parking lots

If you are charged with reckless driving in the state of Virginia, it is imperative that you maintain legal counsel. Consequences for your charge may include demerit points, major fines, license suspension/revocation and even jail time. Contact the Virginia Beach traffic attorneys at Montagna Klein Camden to discuss your case today. Call us toll-free at (877) 622-8100.

Can a Virginia Juvenile Court Custody Order Be Modified?

What to do if you want to modify a previous juvenile court custody order in Norfolk, Virginia Beach, Newport News or another city in Hampton Roads.

Although one generally begins a custody matter in the juvenile court by filing a petition, to modify a previous custody order, one will need to file a motion to modify the previous custody order in the juvenile courts.  Additionally, one needs to be aware that the initial ordering court will retain jurisdiction to modify its order if the child or one parent continues to reside in Virginia.  If neither a parent nor the child continues to reside in Virginia, jurisdiction is determined as if the matter was going to be originally filed in Virginia.  Thus, the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) will be controlling.

Under UCCJEA, jurisdiction is generally determined if Virginia is the home state of the child or Virginia was the home state of the child within six months before  the commencement of the proceeding and the child is absent from Virginia but a parent or guardian acting as a parent continues to reside in Virginia. Furthermore, if a court from a different state fails to meet the requirements to exercise initial jurisdiction or a different state court has decided that Virginia is the proper forum and declined jurisdiction, Virginia may exercise jurisdiction over the matter.  Finally, if no other state would qualify under the UCCJEA to exercise jurisdiction or all other states who could satisfy the requirements under the UCCJEA to exercise jurisdiction have determined that Virginia is the better venue, Virginia may exercise jurisdiction over the child.

What does a juvenile or circuit court in Norfolk, Virginia Beach, Portsmouth , Newport News or other Hampton Roads city consider in modifying a child custody order?

To modify a court order for custody, the Supreme Court of Virginia opined in Keel v. Keel. 225 Va. 606, 303 S.E.2d 917 (1983) that  two simple factors be considered.  First, the courts consider whether a material change in circumstances has occurred.  Second, courts consider whether a modification of the custody situation would be in the child’s best interest.

Unfortunately, there is no clear formula to determine if a modification is in a child’s best interest.  Some factors that the Virginia Court of Appeals and the Virginia Supreme Court have noted are the preference of the child, remarriage by a parent, new employment, and death of a parent.

When it comes to DUI, Police Officers Know the Signs

What are some of the clues that police officers are trained to observe in a stop for suspected DUI in Norfolk, Virginia Beach, Newport News or any other city or county in Virginia?

Trained police officers will use their senses to detect clues for driving under the influence after the initial stop.  The officers will use their sight to observe blood shot eyes, disheveled clothingpale face, or any marks or bruises.  Additionally, trained officers will observe individuals for swaying while walking, swaying while standing, leaning on objects for support, stumbling or loss of balance.

Police officers are well trained to observe the operation of vehicles before initiating a stop.  Police officers must have a reasonable basis to stop the operator of the vehicle.  However, they do not need probable cause to stop the driver.

Here are the most frequently used visual detection clues observed by the police before initiating a stop for suspected DUI are the following:

1.  Weaving

2.   Swerving

3.  A near collision

4.  Unexpected speed  increases and decreases

5.   Driving below the posted speed limit

6.   Stopping vehicle in lane of travel for no reason

7.  Driving without headlights at night

8.  Driving wrong way down a one way street

9.   Very wide turns

10.  Improper lane change

The police officer will also use their hearing to listen for slurred speech, abusive language, inconsistent statements, and admissions of drinking.  Officers also listen for yelling or loud talking.

If you or a family member has had too much to drink,  please do not drink and drive.  You can call a cab and retrieve your vehicle the next day or call a tow truck to bring your car home and ride with the driver. Remember be safe by keeping everyone safe.

Drinking responsibly (or not drinking at all) is the best guard against getting pulled over in the first place. If you do happen to find yourself charged with driving under the influence (DUI), call or contact the experienced DUI attorneys at Montagna Klein Camden. You can’t afford to stand trial alone.

Finding a Divorce Lawyer: 5 Qualities to Look For

Divorce is the second most stressful life event (behind the death of a spouse), and for good reason. It involves an upheaval of the needs and feelings of not just the warring spouses, but also of any children involved. That’s why it’s so important that you hire a competent, calm and experienced family law and divorce lawyer to handle the proceedings. Don’t be afraid to “shop around” for an attorney with all five of the following qualities.

A divorce attorney should be…

  1. Part of a well-established practice with a positive track record. While there is a certain amount of confidentiality that goes along with divorce legal proceedings, you’re bound to come across referrals from friends who have gone through a similar experience. Those referrals may help separate the reputable lawyers from the ones with fewer cases under their belts. Online reviews are also useful.
  2. Punctual and responsive. Your attorney should not be so overloaded with clients that he or she doesn’t have time to respond to your requests and inquiries in a timely manner. 
  3. Enough of a “bulldog” to champion your interests, but calm enough to command respect. What kind of reputation does a prospective divorce attorney have within the legal community? Does he or she have a habit of reacting based on emotion instead of acting based on facts and the client’s best interests? The answers to those questions can often determine whether or not you get the ruling you deserve.
  4. Empathetic and understanding. Again, divorce is stressful and quite emotional. It’s critical that you hire a lawyer who can encourage you and be your advocate without getting drawn into the emotional frenzy themselves (see number 3).
  5. Surrounded with competent staff. If your divorce lawyer is anyone to speak of, he or she will have other clients who need attention just like you do. That’s why it’s best to hire a lawyer with a highly knowledgeable legal support team to answer your questions and address your needs.

The family law and divorce lawyers at Montagna Klein Camden make it a point to model our firm around these five qualities. We recognize the importance of our clients’ unique needs, feelings and circumstances, and do our very best to provide caring, productive legal counsel to people in Hampton Roads, Virginia. Considering divorce? Call us toll free to schedule a free initial legal consultation at (877) 622-8100 or contact us online. An experienced divorce lawyer will contact you shortly.

Anthony Montagna III Joins Firm

Anthony Montagna III Joins Montagna Klein Camden, L.L.P. As Partner

Norfolk, VA (June 14, 2013) — Montagna Klein Camden, L.L.P. announced today that Anthony Montagna III, previously of Montagna & Montagna P.C., has joined the law firm as its newest partner. Following the closure of Montagna & Montagna P.C., “Tony” III joins his uncle Charles and cousin Jon at Montagna Klein Camden, L.L.P., bringing a fresh set of practice areas and legal specialties to the firm.

Tony Montagna’s practice areas include traffic offenses, DUI, child and spousal support, divorce law and more. He is also well-acquainted with the challenges unique to members of the military and their families having learned from his father, who served in the JAG Corps of the U.S. Naval Reserve.

Until the addition of Tony Montagna III, Montagna Klein Camden, L.L.P. dealt primarily with legal matters pertaining to auto and truck accidents, personal injury claims, Jones Act claims, Longshore and Harbor Workers Compensation claims, Defense Base Act claims, maritime law, Virginia and North Carolina workers’ compensation claims and other job-related claims. The partners are enthusiastic about the new spectrum of legal services the firm will be able to offer clients and are proud to welcome Tony on board.

Montagna Klein Camden, L.L.P. is based in Norfolk. In addition to Virginia and North Carolina personal injury cases, the firm also handles maritime cases throughout the nation and Defense Base Act claims around the world. For more information contact us or call 877-622-8100.

Pending Layoffs Due To Congress

What rights does an injured worker have?

With potential layoffs pending on the Waterfront, many injured workers must be asking how they can compete in the open labor market to find new employment to support their families. Finding a job in today’s down economy is hard enough. Add a disabling injury to this economy, and supporting a household is difficult at best.

If you were injured on the job while working for one of the Waterfront Employers prior to July 01, 2012, you have three potential remedies to recover your lost wages, if you are laid off from a light duty position.

First remedy: Request a hearing under the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Act. Under the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Act, if you are laid off from a light duty position, you can receive compensation for lost wages from the Employer or its Insurance Company, while you look for a new light duty position in the open labor market. If you are able to find a light duty position, the Employer or its Insurance Company would still owe you the difference between what you were making at the time you were injured, and what you are able to make in your new light duty position.

Second remedy: You may also be entitled to benefits under the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act. Under this Federal statute, if the Employer lays you off from a light duty position, it is responsible for paying compensation to you, until it can prove that you are capable of some other light duty position. As under the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Act, the company would still owe you the difference between what you made at your pre-injury job compared to your earnings in the light duty position.

Third remedy: If you are over the age of 50 and laid off from your light duty position, you may be entitled to Social Security Disability benefits, depending on multiple factors including your education and work restrictions.

If you are injured on the Waterfront after July 01, 2012, not all of these options would be available to you, depending on the location of your injury and the job you were performing. Montagna Klein Camden, LLP is here to assist you in any of these avenues if you are laid off while performing light duty work on the Waterfront. Please feel free to contact one of our attorneys at 757-622-8100.

Concurrent Jurisdiction Ends July 1, 2012

Virginia House Bill 153 went into effect on July 1, 2012. Any work injuries which occur after that date will not be covered under the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Act if they are covered under the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act. This means that Longshoremen and Shipyard workers who are covered under the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act will no longer have the benefit of also pursuing Virginia Workers’ Compensation Act benefits.

How will this affect you?


  1. The injured worker cannot receive benefits for a disability rating to an extremity due to a shoulder, back, neck or hip injury under the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act. In the past, Longshoreman would pursue those benefits under the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Act where they were compensable. That option will no longer be available.
  2. Under the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act, an individual who has suffered an injury to one of his extremities and reached maximum medical improvement is not entitled to receive loss of wage benefits if they are unable to return to their regular employment. Instead, they are only entitled to a disability rating. Prior to July 1, 2012, we would pursue those claims for Longshoremen under the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Act where the maximum medical improvement date does not effect the individual’s entitlement to lost wage benefits while under restrictions. This option will no longer be available.


  1. The Virginia Workers’ Compensation Act is very restrictive as to pursuing third party claims against individuals whose negligence resulted in the workers’ injury. Under the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Act not only was the employer protected against such law suits, but in most situations, any subcontractors and other individuals engaged in the same trade and business as the employer were protected.

However, under the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act, only the employer itself is protected from being sued by an individual who is injured on the job. This means that where an injured workers’ accident, was a caused by a subcontractor working on the same job, the worker can receive workers’ compensation benefits from his employer while he recovers from the injury, and then potentially file a third party law suit against the individual, or company, who caused the injury. In those situations, the employer would be entitled to reimbursement for amounts paid on the injured workers’ behalf, but the injured worker could be paid damages for pain and suffering that resulted from the injury.

As indicated above, this change which is effective July 1, 2012 only applies to injuries that occur on or after July 1, 2012. Please keep these significant changes in mind if you, your friends or family suffer an injury on the job.

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