Virginia recognizes both fault and no-fault divorces, and cases can be either contested or uncontested. Our Virginia Beach divorce lawyers 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.
Three Important Things to Remember if You’re Considering Divorce:
- Each divorce is different. Talking with a lawyer about your situation will help you be better informed about what the process would be like for you if it were to advance to that point. An experienced lawyer can inform you of various options as they relate to your specific situation.
- Meeting with a divorce lawyer will inform you about important questions that you may not have thought about. If you have children, what would you prefer in terms of custody and visitation? Have you thought about all of the shared assets that would need to be split? Do you know about all of your partner’s assets? If it is a no-fault situation, do you know you have to be separated for a full year before the divorce process can even begin? Many times emotional urgency distracts people from the logistical questions that will have to be negotiated.
- It may not be wise to tell your spouse about your plans to meet with a divorce lawyer. If you do, your spouse may take precautions prematurely (after all, just meeting with a lawyer doesn’t mean you want or intend to divorce) that could jeopardize your interests if the divorce proceeds (e.g. re-organizing/hiding assets or destroying evidence of wrongdoing). Revealing your plans might also put you and your children in danger if your spouse is prone to abusive behavior.
Divorce is not an easy process. The more you know before you make a decision will reduce the chance of any surprises that would otherwise create unexpected and avoidable obstacles.
Examples of Defenses to the Grounds for Divorce in Virginia Include:
- Condemnation (one spouse is aware that the other spouse did wrong but forgives him or her)
- Connivance (the corrupt consenting by one spouse to the marital fault of the other (such as a husband consenting to the adultery of the wife))
- Collusion (fraud on the court by the parties where they fabricate evidence)
- Recrimination (both parties are guilty of marital fault (they, in essence, cancel each other out)
- Insanity (a spouse can prove that he or she was insane at the time that he or she committed the act)
The Difference Between Fault & No-Fault Divorces
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.
What Questions Should You Ask When Meeting With Your Virginia Beach Divorce Lawyer?
Do you specialize in family law in Virginia? If so, for how long?Family law, which includes divorce, custody, visitation, child support, adoption, etc., is a very specialized area of the law. Divorce issues can be complex, so you should make sure the attorney has significant experience and/or specializes in family law.
What can I do to keep costs down?A time-consuming part of the process often involves the gathering and organizing of legal documents, financial records, and other material that can be relevant to the divorce process. The more you are able to take of this task, the less time your attorney will have to spend doing it, and that will keep costs down. Also, listening and following your attorney’s recommendations could save you money in the long run. Emotions run high during divorces and that may cause you or your spouse to say things you would not normally say,and do things you would not normally do. Follow your attorney’s advice on how to handle these situations.
Do you have experience in litigation?It is the goal of most attorneys to avoid having to go to court. However, if it becomes necessary, you will want to find an attorney that has experience litigating – i.e. taking depositions, presenting your interests in a courtroom setting, and arguing contested hearings. These procedures involve additional understandings of procedure that are separate from mediation and initial negotiations. Don’t be afraid to inquire about prior cases and their outcomes.
Are you familiar with the judges in our city/county?A lawyer’s knowledge and familiarity with the judges in your city/county can be a helpful indicator of their level of experience in the area, as well as their ability to make minor adjustments in strategy depending on the judge that will hear the case. The more familiar with the judges your attorney is, the better prepared they will be, and the better they can represent your interests.
Request a consultation with our Virginia Beach Divorce Lawyer Today!
If you are anticipating the end of your marriage, it is vital that you consult an experienced Virginia Beach divorce lawyer who understands the complex Virginia divorce laws. Our divorce lawyers has over a decade of experience handling these matters. As a family-run local business, we handle cases with compassion and sensitivity. For a consultation, call our toll-free number 888-691-9319, or fill out this short form to get started.