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Family Law Attorneys Philosophy
Our Family Law Philosophy
Here at Commander Law, we believe that for the sake of the client and the family, that efforts should
be made to settle family law cases. This should involve direct meetings between the
parties, mediation with a neutral third party or the assistance of family law attorneys. As judges will
tell you, court intervention should be your last resort in most cases. We will explain this to you more
in depth at your initial consultation with our office. It does not mean that we do not want to handle
your case. Instead, it means that we are looking out for your best interests, both personally and
financially.
If settlement efforts fail, then court may be your only option. This family law firm is experienced in all
aspects of litigation and will vigorously pursue your goals at trial. We are here for you as support and
guidance throughout your entire case. We pride ourselves in being readily accessible to clients, so
you won’t have to reach out several times to hear back from us. Whatever you need, we are here for
you!
You should contact Commander Law today to discuss your options! (757) 533-5400

We handle all aspects of family law, including divorce, custody and adoption. Let us know what you
need so that we may help you.
Commander Law serves Hampton Roads, including Norfolk, Portsmouth, Virginia Beach,
Chesapeake, Suffolk, Hampton, Isle of Wight, Newport News & York County.

Criminal Defense, Divorce & Family Law
We are primarily a family law firm. We are now accepting clients in the matters of:

DIVORCE / SEPARATION:





Uncontested Divorce (no issues in dispute)
Contested Divorce (one or more issues in dispute)
Mediation Agreements (The parties meet together with a neutral mediator to reach an agreement
that will be made part of the Final Decree of Divorce.) (We can serve as mediators or lawyers)
Property Settlement and Stipulation Agreements (The parties enter into a written agreement on
issues such as property division, custody and support.)





Premarital and Marital Agreements (The parties can enter into a written agreement to decide in
advance what will happen to property and money in the event of a divorce.)
Collaborative Divorce (with other collaborative professionals)
Child Protective Services (CPS) investigations and appeals
Many divorces involve issues that require specialized experience. Commander Law has extensive
experience in military and civil service divorces. We know the DFAS and OPM rules.
Commander Law also has experience in handling the separation of parties who, though not married,
have joint property and debts that require division.






What to expect when you’re expecting to get a divorce
Practical Divorce Advice
When Can I Get An Annulment?
Should I Stay or Should I Go?

CHILD CUSTODY / SUPPORT / VISITATION:







We can meet your needs no matter the situation. This includes cases in the Juvenile and Domestic
Relations or the Circuit Court. We can help, whether we are representing the mother, father,
grandparents, or other interested party. Whether the parties are litigating, mediating, or agreeing,
this firm can meet your needs.
We also handle child support collection and arrearage cases in court and in proceedings with the
Division of Child Support Enforcement (DCSE).
Termination of Parental Rights
How to Lose Your Custody Case
Child Support in Virginia

ADOPTIONS:



We handle step-parent, single parent, adult, parental placement, agency and interstate adoptions.
The book – “Adoption Procedures and Forms: A Guide for Lawyers,” was literally written by us!
We also handle surrogacy and assisted conception contracts.

MILITARY DIVORCE


Military divorces require specialized family law knowledge. We have extensive experience
addressing issues with DFAS, TriCare, SGLI, Thrift Savings Plans (TSP), military pensions,
Survivorship Benefit Plans (SBP), disability payments, Voluntary Separation Incentives (VSI),
Special Separation Benefits (SSB), the Servicemembers’ Civil Relief Act (SCRA) and the Uniformed
Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act (USFSPA).

MEDIATION:




All disputes can be mediated, if the parties agree to participate. We have a Supreme Court Certified
Mediator with more than 30 years of formal mediation experience to assist you. Have your dispute
mediated by the mediator who teaches other mediators.
To encourage mediation, we offer a discount on our normal hourly rates.
If you have any interest in mediation, make an appointment for you and the other party to come
together for the mediation. We can not meet with you separately, since the mediator must remain
unbiased.

COLLABORATIVE LAW:







Collaborative law is a process in which specially trained attorneys and other professionals (which
can include financial and mental health professionals), work together with the clients to try to reach a
settlement of areas of concern. The issues are decided by the clients.
This requires both parties to commit to collaborative law and to retain collaborative law attorneys.
This is a relatively new process in the Tidewater area, although it is in great use in other parts of the
state. The number of attorneys with training is small due to this requirement. Our office will provide
you with a list of trained attorneys.
Settlement meetings will be conducted with all parties present. There are no court hearings.
This process greatly reduces costs and emotional wear and tear.
To discuss whether collaborative law may be appropriate for you, please call to schedule a
consultation.

ESTATE & LIFE PLANNING:



We prepare Wills and Powers of Attorney, as well as Advance Medical Directives.
We also prepare contacts, leases and deeds that you can use for planning purposes.

CRIMINAL & TRAFFIC LAW:





Our clients often have criminal and traffic matters in addition to their family law issues. We can
handle everything so you won’t need multiple lawyers.
We handle all types of criminal misdemeanors.
After your charges have been dismissed, we also will file the correct paperwork to have the
charges expunged from your record. Having charges on your record can affect your ability to obtain
student loans, housing loans and employment.
We also handle all types of traffic violations and can discuss what effect they may have on your
insurance and driving record.

OTHER MATTERS:


Contact our office regarding other family law matters that may arise.

Commander Law is a Family Law firm serving Hampton Roads, including Norfolk, Portsmouth,
Virginia Beach, Chesapeake, Suffolk, Hampton, Isle of Wight, Newport News & York County.
Call (757) 533-5400 to schedule your appointment today!

Mary G. Commander

Tatiana Mendez

Family Law Links & Resources
Here we provide you with some more information and guidance for your family law matters. For
additional help, please make an appointment at our office! (757) 533-5400
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Virginia Supreme Court Certified Mediators
Juvenile & Domestic Relations Info Packet
Child Support DCSE – FAQs
Virginia State Public Law Libraries
Virginia Courts Case Information
Divorce in Virginia
American Bar Association – Family Law Section

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Collaborative Law

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Divorce Resources for Family
Divorce After Adoption
Single Parent Advocate

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Single Parents Network
National Stepfamily Resource Center
Hand in Hand Parenting Support

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Post-Divorce Check List
Financial Savings and Debt-Management
Financial Abuse

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Protect Your Credit in a Divorce

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Single Parents Guide to Buying a House

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Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption

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Commander Law FAQ
Family Law
When do I need a lawyer?
Adoption: After you have located a child who is available for adoption and are ready to have the
adoption finalized, you need a lawyer.
You also need a lawyer if you receive notice that the other parent has filed to have a step-parent or
others adopt your child, and you object to the adoption.
Divorce: When a case is filed or needs to be filed in the Circuit Court (the only court that can grant
you a final divorce or divide your property), you need a lawyer.
A lawyer can also be useful in visitation, custody and support cases in the Juvenile and Domestic
Relations District Court.
It is imperative that you contact an attorney immediately if you are served with papers. If you miss a
deadline, you can lose your rights. Never fail to appear in court if you receive a summons. Also,
always pick up your certified mail. Ignoring it will not make it go away.
The sooner you contact a lawyer, the more time you will give your lawyer to prepare.

What is Family Law?
We are family law attorneys. Family law covers all areas that have an impact on families – for better
or for worse. Adoption is a joyous experience of adding a new member to the family. Divorce is a
disruption of the family unit, which can be far from joyous.
We are not “divorce lawyers.” We do not encourage divorce. That is a decision that the parties must
make. They also must take responsibility for how the process is handled. They ultimately are
responsible for how long the case takes to complete, how much it will cost and how difficult (or not)
the case will be for all involved.

All of these cases require specialized legal knowledge and training. They are controlled by Virginia
statutes and case law from the courts. As the law is constantly changing, an attorney must work to
keep up. The policy of this office is to remain current through frequent training, review of current
literature and court decisions and participation in national, state and local family law organizations.
We recognize that family members will need to deal with each other for years to come. For this
reason, we encourage communication and often, therapeutic intervention. We also encourage the
use of mediation and collaborative law in the appropriate situations. A consultation will help us
determine the best course of action in your case.

How long do I have to live in Virginia before I can file for divorce?
Six months. This can be the result of a voluntary relocation to Virginia or pursuant to valid military
orders.

How long do I have to be separated before divorce can be finalized?
One year if there are children under 18 years of age or if there is no written agreement. Six months
with no children under 18 and a written agreement. The Complaint for divorce, however, can be filled
prior to the expiration of this period if there are fault grounds claimed.

Adoption
Who can adopt?
Agencies consider single and married women and men of all races, ages and income levels for
adoption. You can be experienced parents with children in your home, first-time parents, or have
grown children.
Two unmarried adults cannot adopt a child in Virginia.

How long will it take to adopt?
The time frame, like the cost, varies with the type of child being adopted. For example, step-parent
adoptions can be completed in a matter of weeks, while others may have specific waiting periods.

How can my spouse adopt my child?
This is not a difficult process if the other biological parent will consent to the adoption. If you are
unable to obtain consent, it is still possible. Contact us for more information.

Can I find out information about my adoption when I become an adult?

Commander Law Reviews & Testimonials
Excellent Lawyer In Divorce Case
What I liked about Mary Commander was that she knew exactly what I was talking about almost
before I said it. She has that much experience with divorce situations and people. She knew what to
expect from court and was able to prepare me for it. More than that, I knew that she cared what
happened to me and I knew that she would be honest with me, even if I did not want to hear some of
it. You need that when you are going through a divorce. – Darlene

Thanks Again, Tatiana!
I rank people, products ,etc. into 3 categories: fine diamond, costume jewelry or junk. Tatiana is in
my judgment a fine diamond. Her sound advice to me over the past 2 months and today at the trial
were right on. She is in mind a rising superstar in the legal profession. It is because of her that i am a
free men and able to right this review. I will always be grateful to her for her help and advice. Thanks
again Tatiana! – Seymour

Tatiana got my charge dropped!
I was charged with disorderly conduct. I had a clean record before so I did not want this charge
ruining my future. Tatiana told me everything to do before my court date so I could make a good
impression. She responded fast and was always available if I had any questions. She got my
disorderly conduct charge dropped to a general continuance for 6months for dismissed! Thanks to
her my record will remain clean! She’s great! – Kara

Mary and Abigail go to bat for you!
Mary and her staff were very professional and courteous for the entire duration of my extremely
lengthy separation and divorce. When it came time for the divorce hearing, she saved me court
expenses by having it mediated by a judge in her office. During said hearing, when push came to
shove and the “opposing team’s” lawyer got out of control, Mary went to bat for me, ensuring my
children and I were well taken care of. You will not find a better divorce attorney or paralegal team.
Abigail and Mary are absolutely the best! – Katherine

Amazing divorce attorney!
Mary is the perfect divorce attorney! She’s a bulldog when she needs to be, but her emphasis is
always FASTER negotiation through peaceful tactics and doing what’s best for the children. She’s
very good at handling complicated financial and other details, and very responsive. Mary is also
cost-conscious, encouraging me to use a free mediator when I had the option but always available
for back-up advice. My ex-husband’s attorney cost him three times what Mary charged! Most
important, I left with a settlement that gave me financial security and peace of mind – and I owe that
to Mary. – Family Law Client

Mary is Top Notch!
If you need clear, concise, and easy to understand instructions for a divorce, I highly recommend
Mary Commander in Norfolk. She and the entire office have unbelievable quick and accurate
responses. Communications throughout the office were impeccable. What could have been a very
long drawn out contested divorce ended up being a non-contested one thanks to much of her
feedback, based on her vast experience. I will always be grateful for her guidance and prompt,
professional responses. – Paula

Outstanding!
Tatiana is great at what she does. She was straight to the point when handling my case and
providing the legal advice I needed. Her professionalism, knowledge, and representation was
outstanding. She didn’t have any hidden fees or try to charge ridiculous fees for additional advice
needed. She knows the Norfolk Court system really well. I defiantly won my drawn out complex case
and her work ethic was another good part of the success. She was on time to all court dates,
meetings and was well prepared! She’s defiantly a prestigious lawyer!!!!!!! – Eric

Amazing law firm!
Ms Mendez helped me win primary physical custody of my son along with very favorable child
support and an unintrusive visitation schedule. I was extremely impressed with her prompt
responses to my questions and concerns, making me feel comfortable with the entire process. She
did a phenomenal job negotiating in my best interests, especially considering how challenging and
unreasonable my former spouse was acting. I would definitely recommend her to anyone, especially
active duty military, looking for a fantastic custody/divorce lawyer! – Amanda

Contact Norfolk Criminal Defense & Family Lawyers at
Commander Law

5634 Tidewater Dr, Norfolk,
VA 23509, USA


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