The 6 Steps To Prepare Yourself For a Divorce
Don’t wait to protect yourself! Know your rights early.
Clients often come to see me in the early stages of separation and divorce. Sometimes a client is just looking to know “what if” scenarios if one of them decides to divorce. These clients almost always leave saying something like “wow, I never knew that – thank goodness I met with you,” or “I will definitely take the steps you recommended if we decide to separate.” I have also had clients come to me months or even a year or more after they or their spouse made the decision to divorce. Sometimes that delay has put them in a bad position as they have made decisions I would have cautioned them against had they met with me sooner. If you are considering separation or divorce (or you think your spouse is), speak with an experienced attorney as soon as you can. There are almost certainly things you can do to put yourself in a better situation when it comes time to divorce. These may include dividing bank accounts, opening new bank accounts, collecting information and documentation on your spouse’s financial and personal situation, and a whole host of other things.
Be prepared when you meet with an attorney.
There are several things you can do to maximize your first meeting with an attorney:
- Create a list or spreadsheet of the assets and debts you know exist. Sometimes people don’t have all this information and that’s fine, but having a list of what you do know about is often very helpful. Be sure to let your attorney know if you believe your spouse may be hiding assets, or has been keeping you in the dark about what they have;
- Prepare a list of questions you have. The attorney you meet with should be able to answer your questions at the initial consultation, or if a question cannot be answered at that time, explain why that is;
- Determine what your priorities are and communicate them. Also, give thought to what you would like your post-divorce life to look like. Do you intend to relocate? Do you see yourself as being the primarily caretaker of the children, or more of a shared parenting arrangement? Do you want to stay in the marital residence or have it sold? Do you expect to retire soon, or make an employment change, like starting a business?
In most circumstances you and your spouse must live separately for one year before either of you can apply to the court for a divorce. Separation generally means one of two things: 1) that someone moves out of a shared residence and either or both parties have the intent to pursue a divorce; or 2) the parties live separately in the same residence and either or both parties have the intent to pursue a divorce. Moving out is a clear demarcation for separation, but living separately in the same residence can be more challenging. If you are considering living separately under the same roof, you can see our checklist of things you should be doing (if possible) to ensure that you truly are living separately here: https://www.curranmoher.com/blog/2017/02/02/in-house-separation-virginia/
Get important things out of the house.
If there are any valuables or sentimental items that you would be very upset to lose, it is generally a good idea to get them out of the house. Store them at a trusted friend or relative’s house, or in a storage facility. You may also want to download copies of family photos and videos onto a cloud service or external hard drive.
Know that the date of separation is the date of financial separation and act accordingly.
In Virginia, the date of separation is the date of financial separation. Everything that is earned before the date of separation is presumed to marital property. Every debt that is incurred before the date of separation is presumed to be a marital debt. Conversely, after the date of separation all income earned is presumed to be the separate property of the party who earned it, and all debt is presumed to be the separate debt of the party who incurred it. What does this mean in the real world? It means that in most cases, it will be a good idea for you to open new credit cards and bank accounts after the date of separation to keep your separate property separate, and marital property marital. Consult with an attorney on how best to use the accounts created.
Consider the process you want to use.
In Virginia besides litigating in court, there are several processes you can use to get from a separation to a completed divorce. They are negotiation, mediation, and Collaborative Law, and information about them can be found here: https://www.curranmoher.com/blog/2020/04/17/divorce-without-court-options-for-a-less-cumbersome-stressful-process/. It would be a good idea to review these options and discuss with your attorney which process option you believe may best fit your situation.
When you’re considering separation and divorce, it can be a challenge just figuring out where to start! Fortunately, at Curran Moher Weis, we have the experience and expertise to help you navigate these waters.
Quick divorce in Virginia is uncontested. State laws dictate you must be legally separated from your spouse for at least 1 year before you can begin divorce proceedings, but once you have filed for divorce, a simple case can be completed in a matter of months.
Can you get a divorce in VA without a lawyer?
o On the other hand, to get a “no-fault” divorce in Virginia, you only need to prove: that you’ve been separated for at least a year, or. However, in certain situations, you may be able to file for a divorce successfully on your own – without an attorney representing you.
Can you represent yourself in a divorce?
One of the most common questions we receive from prospective clients is: “Can I represent myself in a divorce?” The short answer is yes, you can technically represent yourself in your divorce court. However, before you choose to represent yourself in divorce, there are some things that you should be aware of.
Can a lawyer represent himself in a divorce?
Contrary to popular belief, most attorneys are not only unwilling to represent themselves, also known as “pro se,” but they also balk at the mere thought of doing so. There are some lawyers who have a generalized practice and may handle a few divorces or custody matters here and there.
Is it better to represent yourself in court?
It is inadvisable to ever consider representing yourself in a criminal trial, but for smaller civil trials, self-representation can be effective and cheap. If you plan on going to small claims court, self-representation is very common, and this is the easiest type of trial to go through alone.
How can I protect my divorce?
Defended divorce proceedings occur when a divorce petition is issued, and either the respondent does not accept that the marriage has broken down irretrievably or does not accept the grounds upon which the petition has been issued. In practice, defended divorces are very rare.
Can you oppose a divorce?
Your spouse can only oppose the divorce if they can argue that ending the marriage would result in serious financial or other hardship.
Should I contest a divorce?
Your children’s best interests will not be served through a proposed custody or visitation arrangement. If you disagree with the other party about an arrangement for co-parenting, you should contest your divorce to get a court ruling on custody and/or visitation.
How do you nullify a marriage?
To get an annulment, you’ll have to prove your marriage is “voidable,” meaning it was valid, but should be nullified (voided or canceled) based on one of the following grounds: unsound mind–one spouse lacked the ability to give consent due to a mental impairment or the influence of drugs or alcohol.
What is null and void marriage?
Desertion, cruelty, adultery, and mental illness may interfere with marital life and may be grounds for divorce. Nullity of marriage, on the other hand, means that the marriage is held null and void, that is the marriage is legally non-existent and a valid marriage did not take place at all.
Tags: Bankruptcy, credit card debt, expenses
Credit card debt statute of limitations in South Carolina
On behalf of J. Karl Tran of The Tran Law Firm, PA posted in Credit Card Debt on Friday, November 14, 2014.
The amount of time allowed for collection activity and filing lawsuits related to credit card debt is limited in the state. There are a few interpretation rules to bear in mind when it comes to credit card debt and the statute of limitations. On a case-by-case basis, judges have the last word on the decisions regarding how to interpret the state laws. They also have the option of determining what state from which the laws will be followed. It could be either the state where the card issuer is located or the state where the consumer lives.
Tags: credit card debt, credit cards, creditors
Uncontested Divorce in Virginia
Divorce is often among the most difficult and emotional events in a person’s life, but that doesn’t mean it has to result in a long, costly court case. Typically, a traditional divorce involves each person filing legal paperwork that is then adjudicated in court over many painful sessions – resulting in many large legal bills. When it’s over, the judge decides all contested issues, whether the couple likes what is decided or not.
Many couples will choose to forgo that and opt for an uncontested divorce, in which they agree not to dispute such issues as child custody, division of property, or support payments. If you and your spouse already agree on these issues and would like to proceed with a divorce that is quick and affordable, an uncontested divorce may be for you.
The Law Office of Michael Ephraim has specialized in uncontested divorces for since we opened our practice in 1993 Our team excels at making a difficult process as simple and painless as possible so you can move to the next phase of your life.
Uncontested Divorce Requirements in Virginia
The divorce laws in Virginia provide for married couples to divorce in as a little as 2 weeks if all requirements are met. Our firm provides a 2 week uncontested divorce for $695 plus the court fees of $89. We also offer an uncontested divorce in Virginia which takes 5 weeks and costs just $495 plus $89 court fees.
Both options include a separation agreement on standard terms for no extra cost when the following conditions are met:
- Each spouse is willing to sign the divorce papers
- The couple has been separated and not cohabitating for at least six months (if you have no minor children) or one year (if you and your spouse have minor children).
- One of you has been resident in the Commonwealth of Virginia for the last 6 months.
You don’t need to spend any time in lawyers’ offices: you can fill all the paperwork online and we even will process your payment.
Many couples expect divorce to be a long, tough battle through courts and legal offices. Virginia law says otherwise, however, allowing for a divorce that meets the above conditions to be completed in as little as two weeks. It is important to find a law office with the knowledge and experience to protect you, your family, and your assets — even if you have an agreeable relationship with your spouse or partner — and to ensure that you meet the legal requirements.
Frequently Asked Questions About Uncontested Divorce in Virginia
We get many questions about uncontested divorce in Virginia, and to guide you in the right direction, we’ve put together some of the questions we hear most frequently. Take a look at these FAQs about uncontested divorce in Virginia:
What Is an Uncontested Divorce in Virginia?
An uncontested divorce is when both sides agree to the divorce without blaming each other. They agree on asset divisions, custody arrangements, support payments, and any other significant details. They don’t want a long, drawn-out fight. They are both committed to concluding their marriage quickly without dispute.
How Long Does an Uncontested Divorce Take in Virginia?
An uncontested divorce in Virginia can completed very fast. Ephraim Law offers a 2 week divorce process and a 5 week divorce process. Cases in which a spouse cannot be located, divorce by publication can be finalized in 3 months.
Do You Have to Go to Court for an Uncontested Divorce?
No, a court appearance is not required for an uncontested divorce. The Law Office of Michael Ephraim will prepare the required documents for you and your spouse to sign, and handle all document filings with the court. Once the judge signs the divorce decree the office will send the divorce decree to you.
Who Can Get an Uncontested Divorce in Virginia?
You must both agree to the divorce to qualify for an uncontested divorce. One of you must live in Virginia, but you don’t both need to be residents of the state. You must also have been separated for a certain amount of time. Couples without children must be separated for at least six months, while those with children under 18 need to have been separated for a year.
How Much Does an Uncontested Divorce Cost?
Most of the cost of a divorce boils down to paying lawyers to help you negotiate a settlement. Divorces are a lot less expensive when they are uncontested. The Law Office of Michael Ephraim strives to keep prices as low as possible for our clients. Our skilled legal team offers two-week divorces for $695 plus filing fees, five-week divorces for $495 plus filing fees, and divorces by publication in certain circumstances for $495 plus filing fees/costs.
Get an Uncontested Divorce in Virginia
For married couples who are both in alignment and looking to get simple, convenient, and fast results, an uncontested divorce provides a very cost-effective option. Moreover, obtaining an uncontested divorce free of angry disputes eases the emotional burden on both parties.
The Law Office of Michael Ephraim provides skilled, caring, and innovative solutions to your personal family law issues. In our 25+ years of practicing divorce law, we have helped thousands of couples get quick, affordable divorces. Our team is sensitive to the fact that divorce can be an overwhelming, critical time in your life, and we have your best interests at the forefront.
Ready to Proceed?
Our intake form will ask you for the information we need to get started.
If you’ve gotten so tired of your marriage that you want to put an end to it as fast as possible, this article will show you how to do that! DoNotPay presents a way to get a quick divorce in Virginia that won’t break the bank!
We’ll explain what type of divorce is the best for ending your marriage swiftly, which forms you need to file, and how to get divorced amicably. The key to a successful quickie divorce is a settlement agreement, and we’ll help you create one in no time!
What You Need To Know Before Getting a Quick and Cheap Divorce in VA
Getting a quick and cheap divorce in Virginia means that you will have to meet the residency requirements and opt for a certain type of divorce.
You have to live in the State of Virginia for at least six months before filing for a divorce. Your divorce papers must be filed in the county where both you and your spouse reside or where your spouse lives.
In Virginia, you can file for a contested or uncontested divorce. If you want to complete the process quickly, you will want to go for the latter.
Quick and Cheap Uncontested Divorce in VA
Filing for an uncontested divorce in VA requires you to agree on the following issues with your spouse:
- Division of real estate, assets, and debts
- Child custody and support
- Parenting time
- Spousal support
By agreeing on these aspects, the court will recognize your divorce as a no-fault, uncontested divorce, which means that you won’t have to go to court. The cost of the divorce will also be significantly lower as there won’t be any need for you to hire a lawyer.
Couples who can’t reach a middle ground on some of the issues listed above can try divorce mediation. The mediator will help them come up with solutions to any unresolved problems and make them eligible for a quick uncontested divorce.
How To File for a Quick and Cheap Divorce in Virginia
To file for a cheap divorce in Virginia, you will have to follow these steps:
- Complete the essential divorce papers
- File the required forms
- Serve your spouse
- Get a divorce settlement agreement
How To Find the Cheap Virginia Divorce Papers
To get the essential divorce paperwork, you can go to the local courthouse and ask for physical copies. The papers you’ll need to get are different from county to county, but the first form you’ll need to file is the Complaint for Divorce. This document states your grounds for divorce and basic information about you and your spouse.
Fast Divorce in VA Filing Costs
Filing the divorce papers is the step that has the biggest impact on the cost of divorce in VA. To see how much you’ll have to pay, you can use the State’s filing calculator.
If you can’t afford to pay the fee, you might qualify for a fee waiver. For more information, check with the circuit court in Fairfax County, Virginia Beach, or whichever county you’re located in.
Serve Your Spouse With the Papers for a Fast Divorce in Virginia
In uncontested divorces, serving papers is a formality, meaning that you can give them to your spouse yourself. If you were to get a contested divorce, you’d have to waste time on this step and even spend money on it.
How To Get a Divorce Settlement Agreement
A properly written divorce settlement agreement is crucial for your divorce as it will outline the terms on which you’re ending your marriage. It states how you’ll handle all the divorce-related issues. This is why it needs to be drafted with care. You can either:
- Waste money on a lawyer and have them create it for you
- Subscribe to DoNotPay and get a professional agreement that is budget-friendly
Use DoNotPay and Get a Divorce Settlement Agreement Drafted in Minutes!
To get through the divorce process in VA as quickly as possible, use DoNotPay to generate a divorce settlement agreement fast and easily. To get the agreement:
- Sign up for DoNotPay
- Select the Divorce Settlement Agreement option
- Give us details about your:
- Children (if any)
- Opt for online notarization
Once you submit your request, we’ll send you a tailor-made settlement agreement right away! DoNotPay can then connect you with an online notary.
Need more assistance? Check out DoNotPay’s library of divorce-related articles:
To Sue or Not To Sue?
Hiring a lawyer to help you sue a company can be helpful, but it can also cost you an arm and a leg. Luckily, you can avoid wasting hundreds of dollars and use our robot lawyer to sue any company in small claims court instead!
DoNotPay offers you a variety of other features you will find quite useful when dealing with bureaucratic issues. Check out the list below to see what else our app can help you with:
Shopping Without Dropping
Whoever said you should shop until you drop didn’t have access to DoNotPay’s various features. With our app, you can make your shopping experience smooth sailing and stress-free!
Here’s a fragment of what you can accomplish by using our neat features:
1. How to File for Divorce in Virginia Without a Lawyer – Legal …
1. Ensure that you physically separate from your significant other. · 2. Determine where you are going to file. · 3. File the forms and serve the other party. · 4. (1) …
You don’t need to hire a lawyer to get an uncontested divorce in Virginia and you can represent yourself during the process. Spouses can try to handle (2) …
You and your spouse can’t use the same lawyer either, even if you agree on everything. Does Virginia have “no-fault” divorce? Yes. To get a no-fault divorce in (3) …
How To File For Divorce In Ohio Without An Attorney?
Where Does Lawyers Work?
How Much Does A Divorce Attorney Cost?
2. Virginia Divorce Requirements
The requirements and grounds to get a divorce in Virginia. in Virginia; Separation Without Cohabitation; Grounds for Limited Divorce or Separation Divorce · Residency · Grounds · Waiting Periods for Absolute Divorce (4) …
Fairfax County, Virginia – Information about obtaining a divorce in Virginia. please contact the Fairfax County Bar Association Lawyer Referral Service (5) …
May 26, 2021 — In Virginia, an uncontested divorce attorney will file your Bill of Complaint with the circuit court. The process involves submitting the form (6) …
3. What Is the Quickest Way to Divorce in Virginia? – Law Offices …
Sep 30, 2019 — In Virginia, the quickest divorces are uncontested. State laws dictate you must be legally separated from your spouse for at least 1 year (7) …
Virginia divorce laws require at least one spouse to have lived in the state desertion requires showing a willful separation by one spouse without cause What are Virginia Divorce Laws?How much does it cost to get a divorce in Virginia? (8) …
What Do Attorney Do?
What Questions To Ask An Attorney About Child Custody?
How Much Do Lawyers Get Paid A Month?
4. Guide to Separation in Virginia – Livesay & Myers, PC
Meaning, divorcing couples in Virginia usually go from being married, to living apart (with or without a separation agreement), to getting a divorce—with a (9) …
Nevertheless, if the spouses have not resolved their disputes by an agreement and would like to contest the case, such a do-it-yourself divorce without a lawyer Can I really file for divorce in Virginia without a lawyer?How can I file for divorce in Virginia without a lawyer? (10) …
Grounds are legally acceptable reasons for divorce. You can get a divorce in Virginia without claiming that your spouse is at fault if: you and your spouse live (11) …
In this guide we cover the basics of Virginia divorces, and break these basics A self addressed, stamped envelope (if proceeding without an attorney). (12) …
That’s why the attorneys at Livesay & Myers, P.C. have put together this Guide to Divorce in Virginia—to give you a roadmap for getting started. (13) …
5. How to Get a Divorce in Virginia (with Pictures) – wikiHow
18 steps1.Search for a good family law attorney. In a divorce, you and your spouse will be a part of a legal proceeding to end your marriage relationship. Family law 2.Make a decision. Once you have researched family law attorneys and have some ideas, narrow down your list and contact your top choices. Ask your top choices 3.Avoid bad attorneys. While there are many attorneys in the world, not all of them are particularly good. Avoid hiring an attorney who:
Solicits you as (14) …
-physical cruelty. There is no mental cruelty divorce in Virginia. -desertion. This means your spouse left without a good reason. -constructive desertion.3 pages (15) …
Filing for divorce in Virginia without using a lawyer — You can file for divorce in Virginia without using a lawyer as long as you meet all the (16) …
6. Divorce Procedures | – the Norfolk Circuit Court Clerk’s Office
While it is your right to proceed without an attorney, if you do so, In order for you to obtain a divorce in Virginia, either you or your spouse must be (17) …
If there are no children from the marriage, you must be separated for a minimum of six months and have a written property settlement agreement when you file for (18) …
Aug 22, 2016 — You can, in fact, get a divorce in Virginia without a lawyer. What a relief! No expensive lawyer fees, thousands of dollars of saved court Rating: 4.3 · 104 reviews (19) …
If you have questions about how to get a divorce in Virginia, please call us Thousands of people divorce in Virginia every year without hiring a lawyer. (20) …
Getting an uncontested divorce can be fast and affordable. And you can use a lawyer.
Here’s how it works:
Uncontested divorce is quick because it is by agreement. Fighting in court can take a long time. For example, even the most simple motion can take months to be heard. In contrast, in an uncontested divorce, instead of fighting about small issues, parties agree on all issues. With the process we use, our clients do not even have to come to court.
Affordable – with a flat fee
Uncontested divorce is affordable because you do not have to pay a lawyer for seemingly endless trips to court. For example, in a divorce where there is disagreement, a lawyer might have to got to court four or more times just for one motion filed with the court. And going to court doesn’t take just one hour – it can take half a day or longer.
With the process we use, we can offer a flat fee for an uncontested divorce in Virginia. This means that your costs in a divorce can be predictable – unlike hiring a lawyer to fight in court.
Starting an uncontested divorce
Starting an uncontested divorce in Virginia can be very easy.
Below is the most simple explanation of the process:
- Retain Virginia Family Law Center, PC for a flat fee
- Give us information (date of marriage; date of separation, birth dates, social security numbers, etc.)
- Review documents that we provide to you.
- Execute the documents with your spouse and a witness
- Send all the paperwork back to us, and we take care of the rest.
We get many calls from people who have heard that a divorce takes years, or six months, or something else. They talk to uncles, friends, cousins – they hear all sorts of things. The best thing to do is call Virginia Family Law Center, PC to make it as simple as possible.
Many of the divorces we handle take less than one month from our first contact with a client, to the day it is finalized by a court. Sure, some take longer. And some are quicker. The point is that an uncontested divorce can be quicker than you think and can help you move on with life.
Get Started Now!
To discuss your questions and understand your options, call (703) 537-0444 or click here to request your free VA fast divorce consultation with our attorneys.
Contact An Attorney Now
Home > HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO BE DIVORCED IN VIRGINIA?
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO BE DIVORCED IN VIRGINIA?
One of the questions we are most often asked is how long it will take to be divorced. Some clients are divorced in about six to eight months, while others may not be divorced for several years.
There are many factors that impact the timeline of a divorce, such as:
Virginia has mandatory periods of separation for parties to complete before they may finalize their divorce.
Parties without minor children, and who are in agreement with the terms of their divorce, must be separated for six months.
Parties with minor children, or who are not in agreement with the terms of their divorce, must be separated for one year.
After this period of mandatory separation has been completed, the parties may file for divorce.
For example, if your mandatory period of separation was completed on July first, you could file for divorce on July second. If both parties are in agreement to the terms of the divorce, all that remains is filing paperwork. Generally, Prince William County Court processes divorces in four to eight weeks, but sometimes this timeline is shorter or longer, more often longer than shorter.
To fulfill this period of mandatory separation, parties may reside in the same house but must live separate lives as much as possible. For example:
- Neither party should wear their wedding rings.
- The parties should sleep in separate rooms.
- The parties should not be physically intimate.
- The parties should not give each other romantic gifts such as flowers or cards for anniversaries or Valentines Day.
- The parties should not eat meals together or do chores for each other such as laundry.
- The parties should present themselves as separated publicly by: changing their relationship status on social media, not going to events together or doing anything that could be perceived as a date, etc.
Any attempts to reconcile reset the mandatory period of separation to the date the reconciliation was attempted.
If you are unsure if you and spouse have impacted your mandatory separation with a reconciliation attempt, the lawyers at The Hopkins Law firm can help you determine what your next steps should be.
Agreements or Disagreements on the Terms of Formal Dissolution
If the parties agree with the terms of the formal dissolution of their marriage to include the custodial arrangement of any minor children born to the parties, the disposition of all assets, debts and other property acquired during the marriage, they will be able to be divorced more efficiently.
Any disagreements that occur extend the divorce process because the parties must be in agreement to finalize the divorce.
Whether you and your spouse agree or disagree on the terms of your divorce, the lawyers at The Hopkins Law firm are ready to help you with your unique legal needs.
An Unresponsive Party
If one of the parties to a divorce refuses to participate in the divorce process, their silence can delay the divorce being finalized for a time, but it will not make finalizing the divorce impossible.
If you are dealing with an unresponsive spouse, the lawyers at The Hopkins Law firm are ready to tackle the frustration for you and help you finalize your divorce.
If the pleadings, the legal term for paperwork, contain mistakes, the process will be delayed until they are fixed. While some parties file for divorce successfully as a “pro se” Plaintiff or Defendant, which means on their own behalf without legal representation, many choose to hire a lawyer to ensure their divorce is filed correctly and efficiently.
The lawyers at The Hopkins Law firm have significant experience filing for divorce efficiently. They are ready to help you with making filing your divorce a smooth process.
The Court’s Case Load
The Court processes divorces in the order in which they are received, so the more divorces they have to process, the longer parties may wait to be officially divorced. There is no way to move your case ahead in line; you must wait for your case to be processed in the order it was received.
From cheating and substance abuse problems to cultural differences and simply growing apart; people throughout Virginia choose to get divorced for all sorts of reasons. While divorce is exceedingly common, for individuals who haven’t been through one, the actual divorce process is often somewhat of a mystery.
If you are contemplating filing or suspect that a spouse is planning to file for divorce, it’s important to learn about the divorce process and how an attorney can advocate on your behalf through every step and stage.
Virginia Divorce Basics
- There are two types of divorce in Virginia – Residents seeking a divorce may be surprised to learn that there are two types of divorce in Virginia; divorce from bed and board and divorce from the bond of matrimony- which are more commonly referred to as a legal separation and a no-fault divorce.
- Resident eligability requirements – At least one spouse must be a Virginia resident for six or more months prior to a divorce proceeding initiation.
- Legal separation in Virginia – A judge may grant a legal separation if one spouse deserts or abandons the other or in cases involving domestic violence. A legal separation bars either spouse from remarrying, however, in some cases, a full separation divorce may be granted twelve months from the date a legal separation was issued.
- No fault divorce in Virginia – Spouses seeking a no fault divorce in Virginia must live apart for more than 12 months. In cases where a couple has no minor-aged children and enters into a separation or property settlement, a no fault divorce may be granted after six months of living apart.
Divorce Process in Virginia
- One spouse files a divorce complaint with the appropriate Virginia court
- A summons and copy of the divorce complaint are served upon the nonfiling spouse
- Both spouses exchange information and documents related to marital assets and property. In an uncontested divorce, both spouses provide evidence through a deposition or a signed affidavit. In a contested divorce, evidence is presented before a judge at a court hearing.
- Parties either resolve issues related to the division of property and assets and child custody on their own via a divorce settlement or they take their case to court and a family law judge makes final decisions related to these matters.
- A final divorce decree is issued
If you are contemplating filing or believe that a spouse may file for divorce, it’s important to seek the advice and assistance of an attorney. The decisions you make during a divorce can have significant and unforseen financial and personal consequences. A divorce attorney will ensure that you have the information you need to make informed decisions and that your best interests are being respected and promoted.
Divorce is a painful process regardless of the circumstances. As you can imagine, the emotional turmoil it comes with can be pretty intense.
But your stress and anxiety levels go up a notch if you don’t know what to expect from the process. That’s why it’s crucial to understand how the process works and what you’re getting into, so you can prepare mentally & financially.
Are you wondering how to get a divorce in VA? It’s normal to have numerous questions regarding the process.
For instance, what is the average retainer fee for a divorce lawyer in the state? To file for divorce in VA, you must be eligible, meet a few residency requirements, and fill out the correct forms. Only then can you serve your partner with divorce papers.
Regarding how much you can expect to fork out, divorce lawyers in Virginia charge anywhere between $12,000 and $14,000 for a contested divorce. However, the figure is much lower in the case of an uncontested divorce.
How Do You Become Eligible For A Divorce?
To dissolve a marriage in VA, you need to start by defining the grounds of your separation. Are they legal reasons or not? In other words, is the other party legally at fault?
If they are, the dissolution revolves around a core dispute, including but not limited to adultery, abuse, or disagreement over finances. A divorce of this nature is regarded as fault-based.
Sometimes couples divorce when neither party is legally at fault. Instead, the dissolution of marriage is caused by extended periods of separation. This is a classic case of a no-fault divorce.
Knowing which category your divorce falls under will tell you the type of divorce you should get as well as your strategy in court under your lawyer’s guidance.
And if you’re wondering about remarrying after a divorce in Virginia, we cover that topic here.
What Residency Requirements Should You Meet?
After you ascertain the grounds for terminating your marriage, there are residency requirements you need to meet. You and your spouse should have been living in Virginia for six months before you can file for the divorce. If one of you hasn’t resided in the state for six months, they will have to do so until the six months are up before you can file for termination of your nuptials.
In the case of a no-fault divorce, you and your spouse should have been separated for six months if you don’t have children under eighteen years old, or for twelve months if you do have children. This separation should be continuous. At no point should you have resumed living together during the separation period.
Fault-based divorce is a little different and requires that you highlight one of the legal grounds for separation that were listed previously.
Prepare The Correct Forms
Once you meet these requirements, you complete the necessary forms. In Virginia, you must fill out the complaint form, a VS-4 form, and a Cover Sheet for filing civil actions.
These forms will have a plaintiff and defendant section, which you must complete. If you’re the one filing for the divorce, you’re the plaintiff and your soon-to-be ex-spouse is the defendant.
Some of the forms will require that you complete them in front of a Notary. Make at least two copies of everything, and file your divorce papers with the Circuit Court. Your spouse is served with divorce papers, and you wait for your hearing before a judge.
You could choose to do this process without an attorney, which can be pretty taxing, as you can imagine. Divorce on its own is a lot to deal with without factoring in the actual process. Engaging the services of a top-notch lawyer means you don’t have to burden yourself, plus you’ll have legal advice on how to handle the matter swiftly.
Divorce lawyers typically charge between $280 and $330 per hour, and the total costs range between $12,000 to $14,000 for a contested divorce—less for an uncontested divorce. The amount will depend on the location and expertise of the lawyer as well as the type of divorce.
Terminating a marriage is a difficult decision. And the process isn’t likely to be smooth sailing, especially if you’re entangled in a nasty, contested divorce. Hiring a competent attorney to guide you through the process will go a long way in eliminating stress.
But generally, to file for a divorce, you must ascertain the grounds for dissolution, meet the residency requirements, and fill out the correct forms. If you choose to go with a lawyer for a seamless process, be sure to budget between $12,000 and $14,000. You can read more about divorce and family law in Virginia here.
June 29, 2020 – Many couples think an “uncontested” divorce means they have agreed to end the marriage. While divorce is easier when you and your spouse agree that divorce is the best option, this agreement does not automatically mean that your divorce is uncontested. There are two general criteria to meet before you can file for an uncontested divorce, and the entire process involves quite a few steps. This article explains the main items that need to be addressed.
You need to meet the criteria for divorce based on separation.
In Virginia, if you have no children (or if you have children but they are over the age of eighteen) and you have a written separation agreement, you may file for divorce after you have been separated from your spouse for six months. However, if you have minor children, or if you don’t have a written separation agreement (sometimes called a property settlement agreement), you must wait until you have been separated for twelve full months before you can file for divorce. If you want to file for divorce based on fault grounds, your divorce is not uncontested.
You need to resolve all issues related to your marriage so that the court does not have any issues to decide.
Before a divorce is granted, a final decision (either by agreement or by court order) must be made about child custody, visitation, child support, spousal support, and the assets and liabilities accrued during the marriage. If these issues are not resolved and you require the court to enter an order about any of these matters, you will not qualify to file for an uncontested divorce.
Prepare a written agreement (and have it reviewed or prepared by an attorney prior to signing).
There are many issues involved in ending a marriage. Your agreement about issues such as car insurance, health insurance, retirement plans, business ventures, student loan debt, whether and when to sell a marital residence and numerous other issues should be detailed in your agreement. These agreements are binding contracts that you will later seek to have entered as a final order of the court, so it is extremely important to have your agreement prepared or reviewed by an attorney before you sign.
Meet with a lawyer to determine whether your circumstances qualify you to file an uncontested divorce even if you don’t have a written agreement.
It is rare for a couple without a written agreement to qualify to file for a totally uncontested divorce. However, a meeting with an experienced family law attorney can help you decide whether your case might be the exception to the rule. For instance, if you and your spouse did not acquire any property during the marriage, or if there are no children, assets, or debts in common, you may have an uncontested divorce.
File your Complaint and have it properly served.
Complaints for Divorce are formal court pleadings and need to be served in the proper manner before you will be allowed to proceed with your case. If you know where your spouse is and the two of you are cooperating in obtaining a divorce, you can ask your spouse to sign an acceptance of service/waiver of notice form. Getting this form signed can help speed up the process and can save you the costs of having your spouse served with future court paperwork related to the divorce.
Prepare a Final Order of Divorce for review by the court.
If you and your spouse have both signed this Final Order, it helps eliminate questions from the court about whether or not your spouse had notice of the proceedings. However, if you have complied with all the notice provisions required by Virginia law, the court can still enter the Final Order even if your spouse doesn’t sign it.
Present your evidence to the court.
Once the court has pre-approved your Final Order of Divorce, you need to present evidence to the court to establish that it is proper for the court to grant you a divorce. You and a witness (other than your spouse) need to testify about facts such as Virginia residency, the date of marriage, the names of any children, the length of the separation, and other matters. This can be done in person, by deposition, or by affidavit.
Get a certified copy of your Final Order of Divorce and keep it in a safe place.
You may need it later to change your name, file for social security, change beneficiary designations, or for other purposes.
Wait 30 days!
Just as with any other type of case heard in the Circuit Court, a divorce order may be appealed. If you are planning to remarry, be sure to wait thirty days from the date the Final Order is entered (signed) by the judge.
Take care of any loose ends.
Now is the time to re-read your separation agreement and Final Order to see what you need to do next. You may be required to start paying support, close joint credit accounts, sign the title to a car, refinance a house, elect COBRA coverage on a health insurance plan, prepare a court order to divide up a retirement account, or any number of other matters. If you have any questions at all about your obligations following your divorce, consult with a skilled family law attorney right away.
How to Get Legally Separated in Virginia
Virginia does not offer a formal legal device called “legal separation.” It recognizes legal instruments leading to divorce, such as a Property Settlement Agreement (also known as a Separation Agreement). To get “legally separated” in Virginia, you have two paths:
- You can hire a family law attorney to do the paperwork of a Property Settlement Agreement; or
- You can do all the footwork, round up all the financial papers, cross all your own T’s, dot all your own I’s, and work through all the potential conflicts
Virginia has many codes and regulations about divorce. Legally, the Commonwealth views separation as warm-up to divorce, so separating couples need to establish a chain of intent that shows they want to separate and then later, possibly, divorce:
- Establish a date of separation
- Craft a Property Settlement Agreement, aka Separation Agreement
- Live separate and apart (that has its nuances)
- Develop a custody and parenting plan for the children, if any
Date of Separation
You first need to determine a legally defensible date of separation. This is some form of legal document, public announcement, or contact with a family law attorney.
You can put an advertisement in the newspaper telling one and all that, as of the date of publication, you and your spouse are separated. You can tell your spouse, even if you plan to stick around the ol’ homestead for a few more days, and enter the date in your diary or journal. Visiting a family law attorney is a great move, if you can afford it.
By far the easiest way to establish a date of separation is to rent one of those advertising tow planes to fly over Virginia Beach with a big banner: “William Is Leaving Ava and Taking His Stamp Collection and Ginsu ® Steak Knives With Him.” On second thought, that’s too many words. The plane will never leave the ground.
By far the easiest real way to establish a date of separation is to sign a Property Settlement Agreement.
Property Settlement Agreement
A Property Settlement Agreement is loved by all Virginia courts because it does so much of the groundwork for them. It is also called a separation agreement because it lists everything you and your spouse worked out for living separate lives:
- Finances, including equitable division of assets and debts
- Property, including homes, vehicles, second or vacation homes, artwork, tools, personal items, jewelry, furs, and those fabulous Ginsu ® steak knives
- Children, including custody, support, and parenting time schedules
- Military aspects, including duty status and retirement accounts
You and your spouse have to think through everything, and every possibility, in the separation agreement. Suppose a child gets sick — who has legal custody to make medical decisions? Suppose one of you gets the very large family home and the other gets the tiny vacation home — who pays real estate taxes on each during the time you are separated?
The separation agreement is your road map, calendar, and crystal ball all in one.
Live Separate Lives
After you establish intent to separate, you must separate. This is a subtle thing, though; you two can still live under the same roof so long as you stop fulfilling the roles of husband and wife:
- No sex
- No gifts
- No cooking, washing or ironing (does anybody still iron?)
- No groceries, dry cleaning, money lending
- No favors, repairs, or assistance of any kind
You are both permitted to appear together at traditional family functions, but separation means being apart in every meaning of the word for a minimum of six months (without children) or a year (with children) before divorce, in most cases.
Children, the little darlings, make separation and divorce a bit harder. But, hey, you love them, so here’s what you have to do:
- When you go to the airport to have your big sign fly at the beach, leave the kids in a hangar with enough quarters for the snack machine so they don’t go hungry.
No? Okay, you and your spouse have to work out three distinct areas involving your children:
- Who gets them? That’s custody, and it has two parts: physical and legal custody
- Who supports them? That’s child support
- Who visits them and when? That’s the parenting time schedule
A parenting time schedule must take into account every hour of every day of every year of their tiny lives. You and your spouse work out who gets Emma and Lucas not only this Thanksgiving, but for nine Thanksgivings in the future. Groundhog Day. Summer vacation. Arbor Day; whatever your family considers important holidays, you have to work out custody and visitation.
Virginia recognizes both fault-based and no-fault grounds for divorce. Among the fault-based grounds for divorce are adultery, cruelty, willful abandonment, felony conviction (for at least one year).
The only no-fault ground for divorce in Virginia is separation for 1 year. If the spouses have entered a Settlement agreement and they don’t have minor children, they are eligible to file for a no-fault divorce after a six-month separation.
- Residency Requirements
- Grounds for Divorce
- Filing Fees
- Same-sex divorce
- Division of Property
- Child Custody
- Child Support
- Our Guarantee
Disclaimer: VirginiaOnlineDivorce is not a law firm and its services, website, forms or templates are not a substitute for the advice or services of an attorney. VirginiaOnlineDivorce provides access to computer-aided self-help services at your specific direction. VirginiaOnlineDivorce’s website and written instructions provide general information about the divorce process only; we cannot give you any specific advice, opinions or recommendations as to your selection or completion of forms or your particular legal rights, remedies or options. VirginiaOnlineDivorce is a website that provides access to self-guided online questionnaires. VirginiaOnlineDivorce does not sell blank forms, and a user can download those on a court’s website.
This website is not associated or affiliated with the state of Virginia.
© 2000-2022 Online Divorce Service LLC, All Rights Reserved
The #1 Choice for Do It Yourself
How to File for Divorce in Virginia
Step 1 – Download divorce papers for Virginia using one of the buttons above.
Step 2 – The spouse who decides to file for divorce must complete the forms and then file them with the Circuit Court Clerk’s Office in the county where he or she resides, in addition to paying the proper filing fee. These may include:
Virginia Complaint of Divorce
Affidavit of Testimony in Support of Decree
Divorce Information Sheet
Step 3 – You must notify your spouse of the filing by sending him or her copies of the filed documents from Step 2 and the Answer, Waiver, and Agreement for Taking of Testimony. Next, your spouse must return the Answer, Waiver, and Agreement for Taking of Testimony to you so that you can deliver the forms to the clerk.
IF YOU HAVE MINOR CHILDREN — Schedule a time to meet with your spouse to complete the forms related to your children. These may include:
Child Support Obligation Income Statement
Child Support Guidelines
Child Support Guidelines Worksheet
Child Support Guidelines Notice of Compliance
Step 4 – You will have to negotiate the division of your property (i.e. assets and debts) by jointly completing the Separation Agreement. Using the completed Separation Agreement, you then must complete the Final Decree and Judgment of Divorce.
Step 5 – After completing the Final Decree and Judgment of Divorce, the spouse who filed for divorce must file these forms. At the clerk’s office, you may schedule a court hearing date if necessary. The clerks office will inform you if a hearing is necessary to complete the divorce, or if a judge will authorize your Final Decree and Judgment of Divorce. If the judge does so, the clerk will mail you the courts authorization. Whether you receive the Final Decree and Judgment of Divorce in the mail or at the court hearing, you will have to file it with the clerk. This filing will complete your divorce in the state of Virginia.
Complete Your Divorce Online
With 3StepDivorce.com The Original Online Divorce TM
3StepDivorce TM Simplifies
the Divorce Process All Required Divorce Forms
Ready for signing.
Instantly View, Edit & Print
Your Forms Online You Have Full Control, the Way it Should Be!
100% Guarantee of Court Approval
or Your Money Back The Peace-of-Mind You Deserve.
A Simple Divorce Process
|See if you qualify & create account!|
|Answer the questions at your own pace.|
|Print, sign and file your divorce forms with your local court (instantly review & print your forms online or have them sent US Priority Mail at no additional charge).|
Only $299 (flat-fee)
Virginia Divorce By Publication – Missing Spouse
When one spouse wants to call it quits but cannot find his or her missing partner, or when he or she is hiding, divorce by publication comes into play. A Virginia divorce by publication happens “only after a judge has been convinced, based on a sworn declaration, of the serving party’s inability to find the Defendant after trying hard. Service by publication is commonly used in a divorce action to serve a spouse who has disappeared without a leaving a forwarding address. “
When the missing spouse cannot or will not be found (and, therefore, the Sheriff or private process server cannot deliver the divorce papers to him or her, which is the preferred route), the Petitioner must conduct what is termed a “diligent search” followed by Service by Publication.
Virginia’s Search Requirements and Process
Service by publication is only available when the Petitioner does not know where the missing spouse is presently located and his tried unsuccessfully to serve process by the Sheriff or a private process server. Proof of these efforts, even when unsuccessful, must be included in the file. Virginia divorce courts require a good faith effort by the Petitioner to prove that he or she has made a genuine search for his or her missing partner.
The diligent search may entail checking the telephone book and directory assistance in the area where the Petitioner lives as well as in the area where the missing spouse is last known to have lived; asking friends and relatives who might know the location of the missing spouse; checking the post office for any forwarding address of the missing spouse; and exploring any other possible sources that might lead to a current address.
In order to be eligible for a Virginia “Divorce by Publication”, you must complete and submit an Affidavit of Diligent Search to the court. This document clearly outlines all of the actions you have taken to locate your spouse, essentially proving to the court that your spouse absolutely can’t be found.
If you actively pursue locating your spouse through the methods outlined in the Affidavit of Diligent Search, and still can’t locate your spouse, then a Virginia Divorce by Publication is your likely method of getting a divorce.
Filing for Divorce by Publication in Virginia
If the search is fruitless, the Petitioner files an Affidavit for Service by Publication, a notarized statement affirming that “diligence has been used without effect to ascertain the location of the party to be served” and that the Sheriff has been unable to serve the process for 21 days. The affidavit also must state the last known address of the missing spouse.
When the court is satisfied with the effort, it Issues an Order of Publication, which gives the Petitioner permissions to publish a Notice of Publication. The notice is published once a week for four consecutive weeks in a newspaper selected by the Petitioner. The Clerk of the Courts arranges for the publication, but the billing is sent to the Petitioner.
If the missing spouse fails to file an answer within 21 days, the Petitioner may move for a default.
Virginia Service by Publication is described in Virginia Code §§ 8.01-316-317; 20-104, 104.1 and 105.1.
The cost of a Virginia divorce can vary greatly depending on the circumstances.
Virginia ranked eighth in the nation in average cost, with the average divorce costing about $14,500 and the average divorce with children costing about $21,800.
That may sound like staggering sums of money to dissolve a marriage, but it takes time and money to untangle your life from another’s.
But there are a few ways to lower these costs – including proceeding with an uncontested divorce or hiring a divorce attorney with experience avoiding common legal pitfalls, like the attorneys on our team at Slovensky Law.
What Factors Make a Divorce More Expensive in Virginia?
There are many reasons why the cost of a divorce can become more inflated, including
- Inability to reach an agreement— If you and your spouse can’t agree on spousal support , property division or child custody , then your attorneys will have to negotiate some kind of compromise or convince the judge to support their position. Much of the cost of a divorce is related to this back and forth legal sparring, which can be quite time consuming. On the other hand, if you and your spouse can hammer out a mutually satisfying agreement, then you may be able to file for an uncontested divorce and save thousands of dollars.
- Attorney fees— Although the greatest expense in most divorces is the fees that the lawyers charge, you should be careful about choosing the “cheapest” attorney you find online. You want to be sure the lawyer has your best interest at heart, as well as years of experience helping other Virginians through divorce and a vast understanding of Virginia law.
- Large, complicated estate—If you have a large number of assets or the assets you have are in complicated financial situations, your divorce may take longer than it otherwise would. You may also need a tax expert to unwind and resolve the surrounding issues, which could lead to serious additional costs.
How to Save Money on Your Divorce
The most important way to keep the cost of your divorce down is to try to resolve all of your differences before you actually file your divorce papers.
If you have a settlement agreement and have been legally separated for the required amount of time, you may qualify for an uncontested divorce, which is much less contentious than a traditional divorce.
At Slovensky Law, our digital uncontested divorce process has been refined through the experience of helping hundreds of clients through a divorce. We have learned the ins and outs of many different courts and can use this information to assist you.
Even if an uncontested divorce is impossible or you can’t reach an agreement on every issue, try to find some consensus on as many issues as possible. This should shorten the negotiations and the number of decisions that the judge must make which should help keep expenses down.
Most importantly, hire the right attorney for your divorce. You should be able to trust your lawyer not only with this vital and difficult time in your life, but also with your time and money. A lawyer who seems disinterested in your case, confuses the details of your case with another client, or is unclear about attorney fees once you hire them may not be working in your best interest.
Hiring a Virginia Divorce Attorney Saves You Money in the Long Run
The value that an experienced divorce attorney brings to the table is one of the most important parts of making sure your divorce goes smoothly.
Your attorney can help keep your divorce process organized, ensure your paperwork is correct and turned in on time, and keep you from making any mistakes in the divorce process. Some common issues your attorney can help with may include:
- Making sure your assets are probably understood and valued;
- Determining what division of assets is fair;
- Getting your retirement divided;
- Keeping you from trading a non-modifiable concession for a modifiable one; and
- Avoiding surprises down the road
As a small firm, our team of dedicated divorce attorneys at Slovensky Law is deeply familiar with each and every case that we work on. We take pride in staying on top of current news and legal issues so that we can help our clients resolve issues as quickly as possible, with the best possible outcome.
How to File for Divorce as a Military Servicemember in Virginia
The American Institute of Stress 1 courteously points out that divorce is the second-most stressful thing you can do (second only to having your spouse die). We even have a standardized measurement tool for stress: The Holmes-Rahe Stress Inventory, which gives a 73 out of 100 to divorce. For less than that amount of stress from only the one event, you could simultaneously get a ticket for jaywalking, have trouble with your boss, and take on a mortgage. What happens when you compound the stress of divorce with serving in the military? Here is your stress-relieving guide to filing for divorce as a military servicemember.
The Challenges of Military Divorce
Divorcing as a military man is challenging because your life is not completely your own. Your residence, domicile and stationing may all be beyond your control. This compounds your difficulties, because divorce in Virginia is not an overnight process. By the time your separation reaches its required duration (six months with no children; a year with children), you may have been sent off to parts unknown.
Because of the challenges of a military divorce in Virginia, your first step must be to retain an experienced law firm completely versed in military procedures. Some military servicemen are tempted to contact their branch’s JAG group responsible for legal matters:
- U.S. Army Judge Advocate General’s Corps
- U.S. Marine Corps Judge Advocate Division
- U.S. Navy Judge Advocate General’s Corps
- U.S. Air Force Judge Advocate General’s Corps
- U.S. Coast Guard Legal Division
Such a contact would be a mistake. While these JAG corps and divisions are great at military law, they are not highly trained to handle domestic issues, such as divorce, separation or custody disputes. Further, they are unfamiliar with local Virginia laws, courts, and judges. A local, reliable civilian firm is a much better choice.
Comfortingly, hiring an attorney does not even register on the Holmes-Rahe Stress Inventory, as soothing as getting a nice foot rub. Niiice …
Know the Difference Between Domicile and Residence
Make certain you know where you live. No, really, we mean it. Your residency and domicile are two different concepts in the military. Residency is where you live now, whether on base, in an apartment near your base, or on a destroyer at sea. Domicile is where you plan to stay permanently. Virginia can be your residence, domicile, and state of legal residence (SLR) for purposes of your divorce, but check with your attorney to clarify exactly what your status is (or, have you downloaded our military divorce guide for men?) Only if you or your spouse are Virginia residents can you file for divorce in Virginia.
And where does “change of residence” fall on the ol’ Holmes-Rahe Stress Inventory? #32, at a score of 20/100!
Collect All Your Paperwork
Collect everything, every statement, record and deposit ticket for any financial accounts you have set up as a consequence of your military service. These are important in assessing the value of your disposable retired pay, even if you have another 15 years of service ahead of you. Your ex-wife will be able to take a chunk of that retirement pay, so you need to have exact numbers for your attorney.
Make copies of every financial record and turn them over to your local civilian attorney. These documents can be used to help freeze your ex-wife’s portion at an amount set by the court, even if you are on active duty and are not present for the ruling.
(Incidentally, retirement is #10 on the stress scale, with a score of 45/100.)
Filing for Divorce While Deployed
Suppose you are overseas. Now suppose you want to file for divorce while deployed. Go ahead, use your attorney; so long as you have legal residency in Virginia, your attorney can file for you. Because of time and distance, you and your attorney may have to work a little harder to get each step done, but the divorce itself follows the same steps as a civilian getting a divorce.
Uncontested divorces — those built off property settlement agreements — are ideal candidates for military men on overseas deployment.
You might not consider your deployment a vacation; if you do, you’ll be glad to know vacations rank 49th out of 50 on the Giant Stress Thermometer (nobody calls it that — editor), at only 13/100.
Legal Protection for Military Servicemembers
As a military man based out of Virginia (whether Virginia is your post, domicile or legal residence), you are protected against once-common tactics:
- Being divorced without knowing it
- Being strung along through endless delaying tactics
- Having negative legal actions taken against you while you are stationed on foreign shores
The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) permits a Virginia judge to postpone proceedings in a divorce up throughout the time active-duty servicemembers are on duty. Each branch maintains helpful information about this protection; for example, the Army’s site points out additional benefits accruing to active-duty Army soldiers.
A call to The Firm For Men at 757-383-9184, or contacting us online, will connect you with helpful attorneys highly trained to handle military service members’ divorces, custody issues, and more. Please make The Firm For Men your first call, and feel the stress melt away.
DIY Divorce: Can I Get a Divorce in Virginia Without a Lawyer?
Divorces, as with any legal proceedings, can be very tricky to navigate. Today’s online marketplace offers a plethora of “fly by night” legal websites offering legal advice, legal document drafting, and do-it-yourself law. You can, in fact, get a divorce in Virginia without a lawyer. What a relief! No expensive lawyer fees, thousands of dollars of saved court costs, and a cheap divorce ? Sign me up.
While the short answer to our quandary is “yes,” the long answer may not be what you think it is. Let’s take a look at some circumstances for a DIY divorce.
Amenable Circumstances with Your Spouse
Let’s face it, no divorce is fun for any party. Perhaps you feel the emotional relief of getting out of a longtime relationship … or maybe you just need to move on with your life. In any circumstance, difficulties arise and the terms of your divorce aren’t likely to be Carlos Santana smooth.
If both parties agree that a divorce is necessary and there are very few to no financial or material terms to be worked out and split up, then a pro se divorce can certainly be an option. Regardless of how amenable the terms of the separation may be, however, there are still complicated final documents which must be prepared. Those are usually best left to professional divorce attorneys with experience in family law. Not to mention, the court will expect an individual representing himself pro se to understand the rules of the court and abide by them.
Considering starting with an online do-it-yourself separation agreement? Most lawyers will recommend NEVER using these legal document prep services. As helpful as they may seem, there are too many cases where the man is screwed over because the software doesn’t advise on the many pitfalls of using certain language within the documents.
Complete Agreement on Terms of the Divorce
Assuming the circumstances of your split are amenable as mentioned above, you and your estranged spouse must both come to terms on the dissolution of property, finances, and children.
It seems simple at first glance—she gets the car, I get the house, we’ll sell the boat, etc.—but coming to written terms on splitting material and financial property isn’t easy to draw out pro se. At first, this may come easy, but when emotions of the circumstances get involved (whether yours or your estranged wife’s) battles most certainly will ensue. Children obviously are the number one consideration where legal representation is highly recommended and, most often, necessary. After all, having an emotionally unattached third party to counsel you during a divorce is not only a good idea when there’s a lot at stake, but it’s good business.
Proceeding Partially Pro Se
If you think your divorce case would qualify for a decent pro se representation, consider checking out the Ultimate Men’s Divorce Guide to give you an idea of what documentation you should file, how it should be prepared, and to whom it should be submitted. This 30-page eBook is sure to get you moving toward a DIY divorce; however, the guide heavily warns in the opening pages that you should seek legal counsel at least in document preparation and presentation. Keep in mind that proceeding pro se leaves you 100% vulnerable in the court and can cause some frustration to go along with your preexisting heartache. However, this guide can get you on track and help you learn what to expect.
The Case Against Pro Se Representation
As we said earlier, yes, you can represent yourself in a divorce case; however, we’ve also made the case for reasons not to proceed pro se. Navigating the Commonwealth of Virginia’s legal system (or any legal system for that matter) is no job for an amateur lawyer. While you may see dollar signs ahead of you for representing yourself in court instead of paying costly legal fees, you’ll likely end up on the short end of the court system and find yourself inundated in the requisite documentation and filings for your divorce. Are you really the person you want as your legal counsel? It could cost you more in the long-run than hiring a lawyer!
Not to be condescending in any way, but there are certain matters we must leave to professionals. (You wouldn’t perform surgery on yourself, would you?) Competent legal professionals are well-versed in the United States court systems and are paid to do the legwork for you and properly and fully represent you in a court of law. Even further, a trained divorce lawyer will be familiar with family law in the city, county, and state in which you reside.
Get the Divorce Lawyer You Need
Divorces are complicated enough. Coupled with the added tasks associated with the court system, getting experienced legal help is the ideal way to go if you want an ideal outcome. You certainly don’t want to get taken to the cleaners when it turns out you’re a bad lawyer. Be smart and choose the legal counsel you need to get what you deserve out of your divorce litigation. Call The Firm For Men today at 757-383-9184 to speak with a firm representing men exclusively in family law matters.
For over a decade, we’ve served all of Hampton Roads, including Virginia Beach, Chesapeake, Norfolk, Portsmouth, Suffolk, Hampton, and Newport News and we’re proud to have earned a reputation for reliable, aggressive representation. If you’re seeking a family lawyer who will fight for you, call today—don’t wait any longer to protect your rights!
Created byВ FindLaw’s team of legal writers and editors | Last updated March 30, 2018
Virginia’s divorce laws govern how, and under which circumstances, a married couple may get divorcedВ in the state. Most states require some amount of residency prior to aВ divorce, and all states allow some form of “no fault” grounds for divorce. Virginia’s legal requirements for divorce include the requirement that at least one party is a resident for six months prior to the dissolution. Additionally, Virginia requires a one-year separation period before “no fault” grounds may be claimed for divorce.
Virginia Divorce Laws at a Glance
The basic provisions of Virginia’s divorce laws are highlighted in following chart.
One party resident and domiciled 6 months before suit. 20-97
Decree immediate on determination of issues. Remarriage prohibited during appeal.
‘No Fault’ Grounds for Divorce
Separation (1 yr.).
Defenses to a Divorce Filing
Adultery, buggery, or sodomy: cohabitation after knowledge, act occurred more than 5 yrs. before suit for divorce, or party procured or connived act
Other Grounds for Divorce
Adultery or sodomy or buggery committed outside the marriage; subsequent conviction of felony and confined for more than one year without cohabitation following confinement; cruelty, caused fear of bodily hurt or willfully deserted 1 yr. from the date of such act; lived separate lives without cohabitation and without interruption for one year.
No Fault Divorce Laws
Virginia, like many other states, has amended its divorce law to include what is known as a вЂњno faultвЂќ divorce. Filing for a no fault divorce means that you donвЂ™t have to prove that your spouse did anything wrong in your marriage.
In Virginia, you and your spouse must live separated and apart for one year without any cohabitation. This period can be reduced to six months if you and your spouse enter into a settlement agreement regarding the particulars of the divorce and you donвЂ™t share any minor children. Although you are not required to allege fault under this type of divorce, fault could still be an issue regarding вЂњspousal supportвЂќ (alimony) or the separation of your shared property. В
If you and your spouse have shared minor children, you should be aware of child custody laws in Virginia, as well as state laws pertaining to child support guidelines and child support enforcement.
Get Legal Help with Your Divorce in Virginia
The divorce process can be difficult both legally and emotionally, and you may find meeting with an attorney can help — especially if your spouse has legal representation. If you’re thinking about getting divorced, or in the middle of your divorce, it’s a good idea to get in touch with a skilled divorce attorney in Virginia who can guide you through the process and help protect your interests.
How to Get a Marriage License in Virginia if Divorced
I receive many inquiries from couples looking to be married in which either both or one of them are divorced from a previous spouse. Many of the questions I receive often read:
“I am divorced. Can I get a marriage license in Virginia?”
“Do I need a copy of my divorce decree and papers to get my Virginia marriage license?”
“I’m unable to find a copy of my legal divorce decree from my previous marriage. Can I still get married?”
At the Frederick County / Winchester Courthouse in Winchester, VA, NO divorce documentation is required to obtain your marriage license!
Why Are Divorce Papers Not Needed for a Marriage License in Frederick County / Winchester, VA?
When applying for your marriage license in Virginia you are required to indicate if you have been married once or multiple times before. Upon issuing your license, the court clerk or deputy clerk makes you take a solemn oath stating that all information provided on your marriage license application is truth.
Under oath your word is accepted as truth and therefore no proof is needed documenting your divorce.
What happens if you lie? If you indicated you were divorced, but your divorce was not officially finalized or could not be legally proven…your marriage license would be null and void. This also means that if you used this nullified marriage license to get married by myself or another marriage commissioner / officiant…your marriage would be invalid and not legally recognized.
Not only would your marriage not be recognized, but providing false information on your marriage license is indeed a crime!
Per the Code of Virginia:
§ 18.2-208. Making false statement, etc., for marriage record, etc.
If any person, upon whose information or statement any record or registration may lawfully be made under Title 20 (§ 20-13 et seq.), knowingly give any false information, or make any false statement to be used for the purpose of making any such record or registration, he shall, for every such offense, be guilty of a Class 4 misdemeanor.
However if you are obtaining your marriage license at Virginia courthouse OTHER than Frederick County / Winchester, divorce documentation MAY be required.
Some Virginia courts request that you provide a certified copy of a court-issued Decree of Divorce to the Clerk’s Office before a marriage license will be issued. If the Decree is in a language other than English, you must present a certified document translation, signed and dated by a translator attesting to the document’s accuracy. After a finalized divorce, there is no waiting period to get remarried.
If you have any questions on if your divorce is official and legally recognized, please consult with your divorce attorney before proceeding to obtain a marriage license in Virginia. Once you are sure your divorce is final and legal, getting your marriage license in Virginia is very easy and can be done in as little as 30 minutes (learn how)!
Obtaining a divorce in Virginia is not always easy. If either spouse contests the divorce, you must establish grounds for an at-fault divorce. Even if your divorce is uncontested, you will need to meet Virginia’s residency requirements in order to file your divorce in the commonwealth.
Residency Requirements to File for Divorce
All states have rules about how long a person has to live in the state before filing for divorce. In Virginia, at least one spouse must have lived in the state for at least six months before filing their complaint for divorce. They must also be currently living in the state at the time the divorce complaint is filed.
What Happens If Your Spouse Lives in Another State?
As long as one partner meets the six-month residency rule, they can file their divorce in Virginia even if the other spouse resides in another state. A judge would grant a divorce if all the other requirements to obtain one are met.
However, if the spouse never lived in the commonwealth, the court could decide they do not have jurisdiction over the spouse and cannot make certain decisions that would affect them. Thus, the judge may not believe the court has the authority to make rulings about marital property in other states or to enforce child support obligations.
How to Establish Residency If You Are in the Military
If one spouse is a member of the Armed Forces, special residency rules apply in the divorce. One of the partners must have been stationed in Virginia for six months before filing for divorce. A person is considered stationed in Virginia if one of following applies:
- They live on a ship that is in port in Virginia.
- They live on an air, naval, or military base in Virginia that the U.S. has exclusive jurisdiction over.
If a member of the Armed Forces is stationed in another country, they can meet the residency rules if they lived in Virginia for six months before their deployment.
If you are filing for divorce in Chesterfield County, you need the help of an experienced divorce attorney to be certain that you meet the requirements under Virginia law and to protect your rights. This is true even if you are filing a no-contest divorce. To find out how I can assist you, call my office to schedule a free consultation today.
Table of Contents
Divorcing an Incarcerated Spouse Divorce is difficult, especially so when you or the other person is incarcerated. Still, you have rights to divorce if your spouse goes to jail, as most states see this as a qualified reason for divorce. While it’s a common misconception that the divorce can be free, you may be able to have fees waived. This is highly dependent on your situation, and how willing your incarcerated spouse is to divorce amicably.
Can I Get a Divorce for Free?
Unfortunately, it’s a common misconception that, just because your spouse is incarcerated and now has a criminal record , you can get a divorce for free. The divorce will still cost you . In fact, it might cost you more, depending on your state’s laws. If your state requires your incarcerated spouse to have a guardian at litem, or GAL, to represent them in court, you may have to end up paying their fees. Some exceptions may exist, but this depends on the type of crime your spouse committed. In that case, a GAL may still be required, but you would not have to pay the bill.
How to Divorce an Inmate for Free
If your case does not require a GAL, or you do not have to pay the bill, the other costs for a divorce are for your own lawyer, if any, and filing paperwork — though it is possible to cut down on costs . You can also hire a server, such as the local Sheriff’s Office or a professional server, to serve the divorce papers on your behalf, or you can visit your spouse in jail and serve them yourself.
Seek Legal Advice
Your first order of business is to seek local legal advice. Consult an attorney if you can, or speak with the clerk at the family court for your jurisdiction, especially if you are handling the proceedings yourself. Forms or necessary information requirements may be different for your jurisdiction, and clerks will be able to tell you what you will need to proceed with a divorce. Criminal court clerks can also help you obtain any documents pertaining to your spouse’s incarceration that you might need. Also check to see if a dissolution or annulment may be a better option, depending on your situation and whether you meet the necessary requirements for either one.
Check State Laws
The court clerk, if you have visited them already, may have helped you out with this. State and local jurisdiction laws dictate what paperwork is required, and what documents you need to file alongside the paperwork. At this stage, be sure to double-check the state laws, obtain any paperwork from the courts that you might need, and collect all the documents you might need to submit.
File the Paperwork
Next, file the paperwork. You will need to serve your spouse with the documents, which might prove difficult as they are incarcerated. Find out if the court will serve the incarcerated party the paperwork. If you have to serve the divorce papers, consider hiring the local sheriff’s office to do so, or mail by certified mail. The documents will likely have to go through an official at the prison, and if you use the Sheriff’s Office or a private server, they may already know who to submit the paperwork to. You will need proof of service , which should be provided if you use a private server or the Sheriff’s Office, or filled out by you, which must be submitted to the court. Generally, you will need to file three forms. The divorce petition, a summons for your spouse, and a court information sheet. There is one final form you may sign, depending on your situation, which will cut down on costs. You can submit an affidavit or indigent waiver if you cannot pay for the filing fee. From here, the divorce will likely play out fairly similarly to how a normal divorce would. While your spouse has a right to be in the hearings, they most likely won’t be, as incarceration often overrides that right. In their stead, they may have a lawyer, if they can afford one, or they may appear by phone if able. If the divorce is not contested, there may not be many other hearings. There may be a hearing to divide assets per state law, or a hearing to determine custody of children. Otherwise, it’s mostly a waiting game for the divorce to be finalized .
How to File for Divorce While Incarcerated
The prison library usually has all the forms you will need to file for divorce while incarcerated. Free help should also be available; ask your librarian for the resources you will need. Be sure to ask for a filing fee waiver or indigent affidavit form, as the fee will likely be waived due to your incarceration. Bring all of you papers to the prison’s legal service, and they should be able to file all of your paperwork. You will still need to arrange for someone to serve your spouse the summons and a copy of the petition. The prison’s legal service may again be able to help, but if not, you will need to arrange for service. If you wait until you are released , many of these options go away, and you’ll have to file for a divorce normally.
Inmate Divorce Rights
You may not be able to attend the divorce hearings while you are incarcerated, but you can hire an attorney and have them attend hearings for you. You may also be able to be present via phone. In some states, you may have a GAL. Divorcing an incarcerated inmate is not much different from a normal divorce; one party just might not be at the hearings. Unlike some common perceptions, divorcing an inmate is not free. Some fees may be waived if you are unable to pay for them, but otherwise it still costs to file paperwork or hire an attorney.
One of the saddest things that can happen to a married couple is to eventually drift apart and file for a divorce. What makes it even sadder is if there are children involved. It is hard to imagine how a couple who originally committed to spending their lives together have now decided to separate. There are many reasons why this can happen but seems that divorces are becoming more and more prevalent. In fact, statistics show that more than 50% of marriages will end up in divorce.
A divorce can be a complicated procedure and often, it will be very emotional for both parties. There will be a lot of decisions to be made upon separation and divorce. For example, how will the assets be divided, who gets the children and if there are children, who will support them? These and other decisions, though painful, will have to be made. The majority of people in the state of Virginia will hire a divorce attorney to complete their divorce. In many cases, a divorce attorney can do a complete divorce without the parties having to communicate or see each other.
However, a question that many couples may have is whether a divorce in Virginia can be filed without the help of a divorce attorney. This is a very good question because obviously a divorce attorney can cost a lot of money. A young couple may not be able to afford paying for a divorce attorney. The Circuit Court in Virginia is very complicated when it comes to divorces and this is true even for no-fault divorces. This is the reason why the majority of people hire a lawyer to help them in the first place.
There are certain situations, however, where a couple can file for their divorce successfully on their own. They will be able to do this without a divorce lawyer representing them. Obviously, this is a great option for anyone who cannot afford to hire an attorney. There is a website that has been especially designed for couples who want to file for a divorce on their own. This website uses an interactive online interview. This online interview will determine whether the circumstances are suitable for such a filing.
When you go online to this website you will be asked to start the online interview. During the online interview the website will collect pertinent information that will allow you to print the forms and court pleadings that are necessary to file a no-fault divorce. Once again, it will all depend upon your situation being appropriate for this type of divorce.
A no-fault divorce is a divorce where no issues are complicated or contested. Divorces that have contested or complicated issues will need to find a local legal aid office. In the state of Virginia, there are nine such offices. A divorce should never be done hastily. A couple should try to remember why they decided to marry in the first place. If there is any chance at a re-conciliation, then this should be pursued before a divorce in Virginia.
Divorce can put a couple in a challenging financial and emotional situation. Complicated legal procedures, including paperwork preparation, can only make the situation worse.
However, spouses seeking a divorce in Virginia can make this part of the divorce process easier for themselves in two steps. First, they need to negotiate to make their case uncontested. Second, they can prepare their divorce forms online.
Keep reading to learn more about divorce in Virginia and how you can quickly and inexpensively complete your paperwork.
Uncontested Divorce: What Is It?
The divorce becomes uncontested if both spouses agree to get divorced and reach a consensus regarding marriage-related issues such as alimony (also called spousal support), property division, child custody, child support, etc.
An uncontested divorce is considered a more peaceful way to end a marriage since a couple solves all the issues without a judge’s intervention. However, it does not rule out the need to comply with other state requirements.
Residency requirements in Virginia
At least one of the spouses must have lived in Virginia for six months before filing for divorce. Moreover, at least one of the spouses must be living in the state at the time of filing.
Members of the Armed Forces can satisfy their residency requirements if stationed in Virginia for at least six months. “Stationed” includes living on a ship in Virginia port or federal air, naval, or military base located in Virginia. In addition, militaries stationed outside Virginia can fulfill residency requirements by proving they lived in Virginia for a minimum of 6 months before joining the assignment.
Grounds for divorce in Virginia
Every couple should state their reason for a dissolution of marriage in legal documents. This reason must be accepted in Virginia.
If spouses want to file for divorce based on no-fault grounds, they only have one option – separation.
The couple must be separated for at least 6 months and enter a separation agreement before filing. However, it only works if there are no minor children in marriage. If spouses have minor children, they must be separated for at least a year.
During the separation, spouses must live apart without cohabitation. The court may also require confirmation that the separation is complete. Sometimes, the judge may ask for witness testimony.
According to local laws, spouses can also file for a fault-based divorce if one of the spouses’ misconduct ruined the marriage. Such grounds include:
● Willful desertion for one year;
● Conviction of a felony.
How to Complete Application for Divorce Online in Virginia
Online divorce is an easy, affordable, and relatively fast way to prepare divorce paperwork. In addition, it can lower the cost of divorce since spouses don’t need to hire a lawyer to complete their forms. However, a divorcing couple can only use this approach if their case is uncontested.
If spouses have a complicated situation with certain disputes involved, they cannot use online tools to generate their divorce papers and should find an experienced attorney.
Many divorce companies in Virginia can help spouses prepare their filings. Some of them can provide legal advice, while others simply offer ready-to-sign forms for an uncontested divorce. Typically, you need to fill out a questionnaire, and then, within a couple of days, you’ll get your papers along with filing instructions.
But how to find a reputable agency where you can get 100% court-approved forms? A simple online search can help you. First, read the About Us section to determine how long the company has been on the market and what it offers. Then, search for reviews and client feedback to see whether customers are satisfied with the services provided.
However, you should remember that online divorce doesn’t mean that you can get a divorce over the internet. It only refers to the paperwork preparation process. Divorce decisions are always granted by judges, not by divorce companies.
DIY Divorce Forms
Spouses also have the opportunity to prepare documents themselves. To do it, they can download blank forms from the Virginia State Judicial System website and fill them out on their own.
However, it’s pretty challenging to complete divorce paperwork this way without a legal background. Spouses may find outdated forms or fill them out incorrectly. Moreover, not everyone can understand complex legal terms.
At the same time, online divorce questionnaires are composed in such a way that anyone can understand them. As a result, it may take only a few hours to complete the questionnaire versus weeks for do-it-yourself forms.
Once you have prepared and signed all the necessary documents, they must be filed with the court in the county where you or your spouse lives.
At this stage, the petitioner must pay the filing fees. However, if the filing spouse’s financial situation won’t allow it, they can submit a request to waive the fee.
After that, copies of the documents must be delivered to the second party. You have two options to do it. The first one is called “acceptance of service.” It’s when your spouse agrees to accept the divorce papers. The second one is through a neutral third party over the age of 18. You can also hire a deputy sheriff or a private process server.
You should file proof of service along with a copy of the signed separation agreement with the court clerk.
Then, you can request Ore Tenus Hearing. It’s an oral hearing in front of a judge. The plaintiff must appear with a witness to confirm separation. If you meet all legal requirements, the judge can grant a divorce and sign the final divorce decree.
Of course, getting a divorce is not what married couples want. However, it’s not a catastrophe either. Living in an unhappy marriage is!
Today, spouses can reduce the emotional burden and divorce stress if they choose an uncontested path. Unlike contested cases, where spouses have disputes and go through lengthy court battles, uncontested divorce allows them to proceed without an attorney. Spouses can even use internet divorce tools to complete their legal paperwork faster, easier, and cheaper.
Understanding Your Options
There are four ways that an uncontested divorce can be finalized in Virginia: affidavit, deposition, ore tenus hearing or commissioner’s hearing. All four options are described below, however, by affidavit is used across the state and is the easiest method.
The easiest and most widely used method is by affidavit. Plaintiff’s Affidavit affirms to the Court that the requirements for a no-fault divorce have been met. The Plaintiff must sign the affidavit in front of a Notary Publicm and file it. Prior to July 1, 2021, in addition to the Plaintiff’s Affidavit, an affidavit swearing to similar facts and signed by a corroborating witness was also needed.
A deposition consists of questions asked to a witness under oath by an attorney with a court reporter or stenographer present making a record of everything said. However, in the context of a Virginia uncontested divorce, the process of having a deposition taken much more closely resembles the affidavit process explained above.
Generally, the Plaintiff will schedule an appointment with a Notary Public (or other person authorized to take oaths) for the taking of the deposition of the Plaintiff. Written notice of the deposition time and location is given to the Defendant, although Defendants are not required to attend and rarely do. The Plaintiff must present the Notary Public with picture ID. After the deposition questions have been asked and the responses have been filled in on the deposition form, the Plaintiff signs the depositions and then the Notary Public signs.
The Ore Tenus Hearing
While affidavit is the preferred method for finalizing uncontested divorces in Virginia, judges in a few counties sometimes require an ore tenus hearing before signing the Decree. Ore tenus simply means oral testimony, and is not unlike the final hearings that many states require to finalize uncontested divorces. The Plaintiff files a Request for Ore Tenus Hearing, which is a one-page document asking the judge to schedule the case for a final hearing. At the hearing, which the Defendant is not required to attend, the Plainitiff is sworn in and gives testimony to show that the requirements for a Virginia divorce have been met. Most hearings last less than 15 minutes. At the end of the hearing, the judge signs the Decree to finalize the divorce.
A commissioner’s hearing, which is a court hearing with a commissioner in chancery of the Circuit Court instead of a judge, is the least common method for finalizing a divorce. Generally, this procedure is used in contested cases. To get a divorce finalized by commissioner’s hearing, Plaintiff files a Decree of Reference instead of an affidavit. Because commissioner’s hearings often involve contested issues, they generally take longer than an ore tenus hearing and require the presence of the Defendant.
Divorce Made Easier
While divorce is never easy, by eliminating the corroborating witness requirement, Virginia has signifiantly lessened the burden on divorce plaintiffs. No longer is it necessary to involve a third-party in such private matters. Now, as is the case in all other states (except Arkansas), which require a hearing to finalize an uncontested divorce, the sworn testimony of the Plaintiff alone, be it in the form of an affidavit, deposition or in court testimony, is sufficient to prove that the requirements for divorce have been met.
[08.31.2020] Dividing financial assets is one of the most complicated and contested aspects of a divorce. Those assets that may be split during a Virginia divorce include retirement accounts.
Virginia family law has specific procedures to ensure the fair division of pensions, 401(k) plans, as well as Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs). Virginia courts value those retirement accounts as either separate property, marital property or a combination of both.
Which Retirement Accounts Are Considered Marital Property?
Typically, retirement accounts established during the marriage are considered marital property and are split between spouses in a divorce. Most retirement accounts are broken down into two types:
- Contribution plans (IRAs, Thrift Savings Plans (TPSs), and 401(s) plans)
- Defined benefit plans or pensions
Generally, these two types of retirement accounts are viewed by Virginia courts as marital property, even if the accounts are in the name of one spouse.
How Are Contribution Plans Divided in a Virginia Divorce?
For contribution plans, both employees and employers contribute a predetermined amount or a percentage of a paycheck every month. These funds go to an account. Employees accumulate these account funds until they go into retirement.
When an employee spouse contributes to a contribution plan – such as a 401(k) plan or any other – during the marriage, Virginia courts will consider several factors when splitting the retirement account in question. However, the maximum a spouse can get of the other spouse’s retirement account is 50% of the marital share of the account. “Marital share” means that portion of the total value of the account that was earned during the marriage
How Are Defined Benefit Plans Divided?
Defined benefit plans, aka pensions, can also be split between spouses during a Virginia divorce. A spouse may have a pension from serving in the military, being a union member, or working for the federal or state government.
Employers contribute a set amount of funds to their employee’s pension based on a special formula. The employee gets access to the account upon retirement. When dividing defined benefit plans, Virginia courts or spouses who opt for mediation may choose to:
- Calculate the value of the plan. A common way to split a pension between spouses is by having the account’s present value calculated by an expert. After the valuation has been completed, the non-employee spouse may choose to incorporate his or her share into the overall value of asset division.
- Divide upon retirement. Virginia law also allows parties to agree to divide the shares on their own. At the time of retirement, the non-employee spouse’s portion will be paid to him or her. To divide a pension upon retirement, the divorcing spouses need to submit the appropriate Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) to the court.
Veterans going through a divorce may be concerned about losing a portion of their disability pay to child support, alimony payments, and/or property division.
For any veteran who’s in the process of getting a divorce, hiring a knowledgeable and experienced military divorce lawyer is crucial. They will need help understanding what’s at stake, and to make sure assets are fairly divided during proceedings.
Here’s how disability benefits are handled in a VA divorce.
VA Disability Benefits are Exempt from Marital Property Division
Veterans who suffer from service-related injuries are entitled to disability. These benefits are governed by federal laws such as the Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection (USFSPA).
Under the USFSPA, VA disability payments are exempt from marital property division. Unlike military retirement benefits that may be divided by a family court, VA disability pay is not considered a marital or community asset during divorce proceedings.
VA disability compensation covers disabilities or injuries that were sustained by the veteran while they were on active duty. They also cover physical and mental injuries that worsened due to active service.
These injuries don’t need to happen during active combat—for instance, the veteran is still entitled to VA disability benefits if they sustained the injuries during a routine training session.
VA Disability Benefits May Be Garnished for Child Support
Although VA disability benefits are not subject to marital property division, they may be considered as part of the veteran’s income when the court determines child support payments. The reasoning here is that VA disability benefits are considered compensation for the veterans’s diminished earning capacity. The benefits serve as a replacement for the income that the veteran would be earning if they weren’t disabled.
Furthermore, because VA disability benefits are not subjected to tax cuts, the full amount is taken into account by the court when determining child support payments.
The amount of child support payments established by the court may then be garnished or seized from the veteran’s VA disability pay if they fail to meet their responsibilities.
An important note to remember, however, is that VA disability benefits may only be garnished if the veteran opted for this type of compensation in lieu of military retired pay. Otherwise, they can’t be garnished at all.
VA Disability Benefits May Be Garnished for Alimony
VA disability may also be garnished for alimony payments. The amount that can be reasonably garnished depends on several factors, including:
- The former spouse’s income
- The veteran’s other income sources
- Any special needs that the former spouse may have
In most cases, between 20 to 50 percent of the benefits may be garnished. Any higher than this may result in undue financial hardship to the veteran.
Apportionment of VA Disability Benefits
Apportionment happens when the VA assigns a specified portion of the veteran’s disability benefits to one of their family members. Alimony and child support payment will only be garnished after the former spouse applies to receive their apportioned share.
After the application for apportionment has been filed, the VA decides whether they’ll grant the claim. If it’s awarded, the share will then be paid monthly to the family member, thus reducing the amount that the veteran gets.
Find the Right Divorce Lawyer in Virginia
There’s a lot at stake when you’re facing a divorce that involves VA disability benefits. Instead of dealing with things on your own, and potentially making mistakes that can impact your finances for a long time, hire an experienced Virginia divorce lawyer.
Our team will help you deal with the complexities of the process and protect your rights. Contact us today at (757) 656-1000 to schedule a consultation.
Achieving a divorce from an uncooperative spouse can feel like an uphill battle. Here are 5 actions to take if your spouse refuses to sign divorce papers.
Divorce is never an easy process. However, it can go relatively smoothly so long as your spouse cooperates.
When you and your spouse agree on the divorce and can come to an agreement quickly on the various issues, such as the division of property, spousal support, and child custody, then you may manage to have as easy a divorce as is possible.
You both sign the papers, have your agreement finalized by the court, and move on. But what if your spouse refuses to sign divorce papers?
Unfortunately, that may not be the case for you. Achieving a divorce from an uncooperative spouse can feel like an uphill battle. You eventually have to ask, what do you do when your spouse refuses to sign divorce papers? If you expect a contested divorce, or for your spouse to ignore the proceedings, it is best to speak with a skilled divorce attorney regarding how to obtain a divorce without your spouse’s cooperation.
5 Actions to Take if Your Spouse Refuses to Sign Divorce Papers
1. You Do Not Need Your Spouse’s Consent to Obtain a Divorce
Long gone are the days when one spouse might need the other’s consent to obtain a divorce. Now, consensual, or uncontested, divorces may be easier, but they are not required. You have the right to file for divorce in a court that has jurisdiction over your marriage, serve your spouse with the divorce papers, and seek a divorce with or without their permission or participation. However, it is important to understand that your spouse’s attitude influences what you need to do to dissolve your marriage.
2. Determine the Proper Grounds for Divorce
At this point, every state has an option for a no-fault divorce. It may go by different names in different states, but you are not forced to prove fault to obtain a divorce anywhere. However, there are situations in which you may choose to file for divorce based on fault in hopes of obtaining some benefit. For instance, in certain circumstances, proving that your spouse was at fault may help you obtain a larger property settlement, spousal support, or sole custody of your children.
If your spouse has already stated they will not sign divorce papers, and you have not yet filed, speak with a divorce attorney about the pros and cons of filing a no-fault or fault-based divorce. In Pennsylvania, you still have the option to file for a no-fault divorce based on the marriage being irretrievably broken. An irretrievable breakdown divorce does not require your spouse’s signature, though it does require at least a one-year separation before the divorce can be granted.
3. Did Your Spouse File a Response to the Divorce Complaint?
If your spouse was properly served the divorce papers, filed an uncontested response in court, then refused to sign the final divorce papers, talk with an attorney about your option to proceed with an uncontested divorce. In some jurisdictions, if the spouse did not contest the divorce or any particular issue in their response, the judge may allow you to proceed with an uncontested divorce.
In this scenario, you and your spouse will be assigned a court date. If your spouse does not attend the court date or attends and continues to not contest the divorce, the judge may enter a divorce order based on the facts in your complaint and the response.
You may have to move forward with a contested divorce, though. A court hearing will be set, and your spouse will be served with the court date. If they attend and openly contest the divorce or a particular issue, then each side must present testimony and evidence regarding their preferred outcome. The judge will use the evidence to make decisions related to the divorce, such as the division of assets and debts, retirement, alimony, and child custody and visitation.
Contested divorces can take weeks or months because the matter may require multiple hearings to argue the numerous issues involved. If you know your spouse is ready to fight you during the divorce, contact a Pittsburgh contested divorce attorney as soon as possible.
4. Did Your Spouse Fail to Respond to the Divorce Complaint?
You may have had trouble with your spouse right from the start. Despite properly filing for divorce and serving them with the divorce papers, your spouse may have not responded in time. That is, they failed to file a written response with the court. In this situation, your attorney may file a motion for default judgment.
A hearing date will be scheduled for you and your spouse to attend. If they do not show up to court that day, the judge can enter a divorce order based on the facts in your original divorce complaint, so long as you have met all the statutory requirements for a divorce.
5. Do Not Put Your Divorce on Hold
You may think that your spouse’s lack of consent or cooperation will delay your divorce. This is not necessarily true. The way in which your spouse can delay the final divorce order is by actively participating in the proceedings and arguing about each underlying issue. A contentious divorce can take months or years to finalize. However, if your spouse chooses to not participate, then this could lead to a speedier resolution.
You may have to fulfill a statutory waiting period to obtain a divorce, such as a one-year separation. However, there is no reason to pause your divorce or wait excessive periods of time for your spouse to sign divorce papers. You can obtain a divorce without their signature, and a Pittsburgh contest divorce attorney can help along the way.
Posted Apr 5, 2021 by Cara Wallace | Divorce, Family Law
The Virginia General Assembly has made a significant change to Virginia Code § 20-106 concerning the requirements for a no-fault divorce. Effective July 1, 2021, Virginia law will no longer require a corroborating witness for a divorce based on no-fault grounds. The new law makes it significantly easier to obtain a no-fault divorce in Virginia.
In Virginia, there are two ways to obtain a divorce: fault grounds or no-fault grounds. There are advantages and disadvantages to each. The fault grounds for divorce in Virginia are adultery, cruelty, desertion, and felony conviction and confinement in excess of one year. To qualify for a no-fault divorce in Virginia, the parties must have been separated for at least one year if there are minor children. If there are no minor children, the parties only need to be separated for six months, with a signed settlement agreement, before filing for divorce.
Under the current statute, one of the requirements to obtain your final order of divorce is an affidavit of a corroborating witness. This third-party witness must attest to certain facts regarding the parties and their marriage. The witness is typically a family member or friend with personal knowledge of the Plaintiff, Defendant, and circumstances surrounding the separation. The corroborating witness rarely needs to testify in court; however, they will need to sign a witness affidavit in front of a notary. The affidavit will then be filed with the circuit court clerk as a part of the parties’ divorce documentation.
Under Virginia Code § 20-106, a corroborating witness’ affidavit shall:
- Verify that the affiant is over the age of eighteen and not suffering from any condition that renders him or her legally incompetent;
- Verify whether either party is incarcerated;
- Give factual support to the grounds for divorce stated in the complaint or counterclaim;
- Verify that at least one of the parties to the suit was a bona fide resident of Virginia at the time of filing and for at least six months immediately preceding the filing of the suit;
- Verify whether there were children born or adopted of the marriage and verify neither party is known to be pregnant from the marriage; and
- Verify the affiant’s personal knowledge that the parties have not cohabitated since the date of separation alleged in the complaint or counterclaim and that it has been either party’s intention since that date to remain separate and apart permanently.
The requirement for the corroborating witness came into effect in 1849. In the 1871 case of Bailey v. Bailey, the Supreme Court of Virginia explained that the statute was intended to prevent “parties who were weary of the bond of matrimony, and impatient of its restraints and obligations, from obtaining the aid of the courts through their own collusion and default. It was a rule for the protection of public morals and the sanctity of the marriage relations.”
The intended deterrent of “collusion” between spouses was arguably made moot when the Virginia legislature codified no-fault divorces in 1960. The no-fault ground of divorce essentially allows couples to “collude” in agreeing to separate, although the actual date of separation must still adhere to legal requirements.
Virginia is currently the only state to require third-party corroboration for both fault and no-fault divorces. The vast majority of states do not require witness corroboration of divorce grounds at all. This requirement is outdated and inconvenient for many divorce petitioners. It is often the case that a petitioner simply does not have anyone who qualifies as a witness, especially if the divorce or separation was kept private, or for any number of other personal reasons.
The requirement can also feel like an invasion of privacy, as the corroborating witness must personally visit your dwelling with some regularity. The witness must testify that you and your spouse live separate and apart, and they must know intimate details surrounding your marriage and its ultimate demise. Such a requirement is highly invasive and often burdensome to both the petitioner and the witness.
Thankfully for divorce petitioners, effective July 1, 2021, Virginia law will no longer require a corroborating witness for a no-fault divorce. This change will expedite the divorce process and save petitioners time, money, and headaches. Before this date, a corroborating witness will still be required for no-fault divorces. And a corroborating witness will remain required for fault-based divorces for the foreseeable future.