Virginia recognizes both fault and no-fault divorces, and cases can be either contested or uncontested. Our attorneys are well experienced in effectively navigating the various obstacles and legal complexities that divorces often entail. We know how difficult divorces can be, and our main goal is to stay focused on your needs and desires and to help guide you through this very vulnerable time.
While each divorce is unique and requires a specific approach that reflects the circumstances, there are general similarities that provide a helpful starting point if you're considering filing for separation.
Fault or No-Fault?
This question deals with the grounds for divorce. A fault-based divorce is based on one spouse’s bad behavior, such as committing adultery, deserting or abandoning the other spouse, or cruelty. A No-Fault divorce is based on a couple having been separated with the intent to divorce for at least one year. The courts allow couples who have no minor children and who have reached a separation agreement to cut this one-year period down to six months. The grounds for divorce determine how long a party must wait before filing. If the divorce is based on fault grounds, there is no waiting period, but if the divorce is based on no-fault grounds, the parties must wait either six months or one year to initiate the suit.
There is also a difference between contested and uncontested divorces. An uncontested divorce is one where the parties agree on all matters. In uncontested cases, the parties typically sign a Separation Agreement and submit their paperwork to the court without the need for an appearance. Contested divorces are cases where one or more issues between the parties need to be determined by the court. Often, cases that start as contested are finalized as uncontested. As both parties work through the litigation process, they may find that they are able to settle out of court rather than have a judge decide all issues.
As can be expected, if you have minor children with your spouse, the divorce process will likely take longer to negotiate. As mentioned above, the separation period is twelve months, even if the parties reach an agreement. Likewise, the custody arrangement will have an impact on the financial issues for the family, as the calculation of child support can depend on other factors such as spousal support and the division of property that produces income.
Length of Marriage
Depending on the length of the marriage, the approach will differ based on how many mutual assets are involved, the amount of, and contributions to, the wealth accumulated during the marriage, the amount and duration of spousal support, and the age of each spouse. “Gray Divorces” are on the rise in the United States, and they involve unique questions dealing with house ownership, accrued debt, financial planning, and knowledge of assets.
No matter your circumstance, our lawyers will rely on their experience to guide you through the very difficult process. Our priority is serving our client’s every need.