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Compassionate Family Law Firm Serving The Needs Of Wise County Families

When it comes to your family, we know there is nothing you wouldn’t do to protect them from pain and harm. As a family-owned and operated law firm, we understand this feeling deeply. That’s why we place such a high importance on family law cases like yours. We urge you to take a deep breath and pick up the phone today. Your resolution may be just around the corner and we will help you get there.


































When we get married, we do so with the best intentions of spending our lives with our spouse. Unfortunately, reality doesn’t always turn out the way we planned. If you have decided the best option for your health and happiness is to end your union, we will help you get through it from beginning to end. If your relationship is amicable, we can work with your partner’s legal team and speed the process along. If not, we will help you determine your goals and fight tirelessly in court to ensure you get what you want.

Even with the best intentions, some marriages are not destined to last forever. That said, there is no shame in deciding to divorce if that is the best option for you or your children. We have helped countless clients get through the divorce process, both in amicable circumstances and otherwise. Though it is not required by law to hire a divorce attorney, we strongly recommend you do.


Even in amiable situations, valuing and dividing assets, agreeing on custody and support, and potential alimony matters can be complex and cause tensions to rise. We will guide you through the process to ensure you walk away with your needs met.

No-Fault Virginia Divorce

The state of Virginia allows you to file for “no-fault” or “fault” divorce. A no-fault divorce means you and your spouse have unilaterally decided to dissolve your union because of irreconcilable differences, not because one or the other directly caused the relationship to fail. In order to file for a no-fault divorce, one of you must have been a Virginia resident for at least six months and the two of you must not have been living together for at least one uninterrupted year. If you do not have children and have a separation agreement, that requirement is only six months.

Fault Grounds For Divorce

There are certain circumstances in which you are permitted to file for divorce on the grounds that your partner caused irreparable harm to your union. These fault grounds include:

  • Infidelity, specifically sexual acts outside of the marriage

  • Willful desertion or abandonment

  • Fear of bodily harm

  • A criminal conviction with a jail sentence of at least a year and some prison time served

In any of these cases, a Virginia court will grant your divorce, whether your spouse agrees to it or not. However, you must have hard evidence in hand. Suspecting your spouse of cheating or only a few days apart will not satisfy this requirement.

Get The Skilled Representation You Deserve

Whether you are seeking a fault or no-fault divorce, our experienced team of family law attorneys is at your service. We understand this may be a very difficult time for you and will do everything in our power to obtain the outcome you want.



If you have decided to adopt, we commend your choice. Unfortunately, the adoption system is notoriously challenging and expensive and many adoptions fall through before they are completed. If you are running into issues and fearful of failure, we are here to find a way forward. We have represented many clients who are now part of beautiful families and can do the same for you.

Dedicated Family Law Attorney Assisting Wise County Families With Adoptions

Adoption is a wonderful way to grow your family and change the life of a child for the better. Due to the enormous responsibility that comes with assuming the care of a child, the adoption process is painstakingly intricate, slow-moving, and prone to legal snags. If you have run into problems during the course of your adoptions or need representation, the compassionate and skilled legal team at the Law Office of Kern and Wilkens, PC is here to help.

Virginia Adoption Basics

Any person can be adopted if their biological parents permit it or they are over 18. A parent who wants to forfeit custody of their child can choose adoptive parents directly or place the child within the care of an adoption agency.

It is very common for stepmothers and stepfathers to adopt their spouse’s children after they marry. We have helped countless stepparents obtain custody. It is now legal for married same-sex couples to adopt as well!

Let Us Help Your Family Grow

We help families in every stage of the adoption process move forward. You will be required to jump through the requisite legal hoops to prove you are fit to be the guardian of a specific child. Our talented family law attorneys will help you produce the necessary documentation, appear in hearings, advise you on home visit rules, and counsel you through the rest of the process.


One of the more notoriously contentious issues in a divorce is child custody and support. Each case is different — in some families, both parents are fit to care for their children and able to remain civil. In other cases, the relationship has deteriorated to such a degree that even small compromises feel like huge concessions. Wherever you and your spouse are, we will represent you and your children’s best interests and work to obtain the result you deserve.

Principled Child Custody & Support Attorney Assisting Wise County Families

One of the most difficult matters in a divorce are custody and support negotiations. The majority of divorcing parents want to spend as much time as possible with their children and attempt to maintain some semblance of normalcy going forth. We understand this is a stressful time in your life and can help you determine your goals and prepare for court.

Custody Agreements

There are several types of custody you must consider as you move forward in your divorce. It is important to understand each, as well as identify your desired outcome. Do you want the children to live with you full-time or are you willing to share that time with your former spouse? Are you alright with letting your partner weigh-in on decisions regarding healthcare and education? These are just some of the questions you’ll need to answer. The types of custodial agreements you should be aware of include:

  • Legal Custody: the ability to make important decisions for your children, including healthcare, schooling, religious practice, etc.

  • Physical Custody: the ability to have your children live with you.

  • Sole vs. Joint: Both legal and physical custody can be granted fully to one parent, or divided in some way.

In an ideal situation, you and your soon-to-be-ex spouse can agree on what is best for you and your children and sign an agreement that makes both parties happy. In less amicable circumstances, a judge will make the decisions based on his or her perception of what is in the best interest of the children. If you must appear in court, you will absolutely need high-quality legal representation.


Once custody is determined, the issue of child support must be handled. Typically, one spouse is required to pay child support to the other spouse if their children reside with the other. These support payments are intended to help the parent with physical custody with childcare costs such as daycare, education, medical expenses, food and shelter, etc. If you need help preparing for an upcoming support battle, or if your spouse has not been making child support payments, call us today. We can help you get what you and your children deserve.


If you and your spouse are unable to agree on a custody agreement, the court will be forced to order a custody schedule for you and your children. If sole custody is ordered, the other parent will typically be allowed visitation rights. We can help you determine visitation goals regarding your children and represent you in court.

Committed Family Law Attorney Counseling Wise County Clients Navigating Visitation Issues

A visitation agreement is necessary for parents who share physical custody of their children, or if one parent has full custody but allows the non-custodial parent to spend time with the kids. Even amicable custody negotiations must include a valid visitation schedule that can be adhered to and referenced in the future should anything change or go wrong. The skilled family law attorneys at The Law Office of Kern and Wilkens, PC can help you prepare for an upcoming visitation negotiation or hearing.

What Does A Visitation Agreement Look Like?

A solid visitation schedule needs to include how and when parents will spend time with their children. In addition to your weekly schedule, you need to agree on what happens on holidays, school breaks and vacations, and special occasions. In order for a visitation schedule to be approved by a judge, it must show that it has been designed in the best interests of the children. It should also evidence that both parents are committed to providing the best care and support of their children.


You should consider the following questions:

  • Does this schedule enhance my child’s life or place an undue burden on them?

  • Does it allow my child to spend quality time with each parent in a fair way? For example, simply splitting the year in half would mean your child will be deprived of contact with the other parent for long stretches of time.

  • Does one parent assume the majority of the child-rearing responsibilities or do both contribute? An example of this is weekend visitation for one parent, while the other parent is solely responsible for getting the child to and from school, extracurriculars, doctor appointments, etc.

The Quality Of Your Representation Matters

Especially in cases of contentious divorces, it is crucial to have a knowledgeable and experienced family law attorney by your side as you attempt to get the visitation schedule you want. We know what judges are looking for and what are considered red flags. We will advise you to the best of our ability to ensure your children are well cared for and your goals are met.

The Law Office of Kern and Wilkens, PC helps families in Big Stone Gap and throughout Wise County get through difficult family law matters, including divorce, adoptions, custody and support, and visitation. Contact us today at 276-523-1281 to schedule a free consultation with a caring and accomplished attorney.

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