How to Divorce in Virginia

The divorce process differs depending on which state you're in. Most states require people to determine property division, financial matters, and custody during their divorce. If a couple can't agree on these terms, they then need to rely on mediation or litigation to solve the problem. If they can agree on these terms before filing, the couple can file an uncontested divorce. However, to get started, you will have to fill out paperwork and submit it to court.

To qualify for a divorce in Virginia, at least 1 spouse must have lived in Virginia for at least 6 months. Likewise, whoever is filing for divorce must state a ground for divorce. The 5th ground, living apart, is considered the no-fault ground. If a couple is living apart continuously and permanently for 1 year (6 months if the couple doesn't have children and a separation agreement), they can file for the 5th ground. However, the court cannot grant the divorce until it is proven in court. Even with an uncontested divorce, a hearing or deposition needs to occur at some point during the process.

To get started, the Bill of Complaint for Divorce must be filed by 1 spouse who is then called the complainant (plaintiff). The complaint is later served on the other spouse (defendant) by a process server, an acceptance of service, a waiver, or by signing an answer. The defendant has 21 days from being served to respond to the complaint. If the spouse does not, the plaintiff's lawyer can file to have the case be considered a commissioner in chancery to have a hearing on the grounds of the divorce. Once the commissioner has heard the evidence, he or she will file a recommendation that a judge grant the divorce.

If the spouse does respond in time, both spouses must try to reach an agreement regarding the essential topics in divorce. They must do this through mediation or rely on litigation, so a judge will then make a decision regarding the disagreement and one of the spouses' lawyers will draft a divorce decree based on that decision.

Once no dispute exists between the parties, a drafted divorce decree is filed with the judge. Law clerks will review the decree's wording, and the judge will read and sign the final decree. After a judge approves the decree, the divorce is finalized.

If you need help with your divorce, talk to one of our skilled Glen Allen divorce attorneys. DeFazio Bal has more than 50 years of combined legal experience to offer your case. Let us see what we can do for you.

Contact us at (804) 250-3729 or fill out our online form to schedule a case consultation today.

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