Virginia Beach Divorce Lawyer
Are you considering filing for divorce, or were you served with divorce papers in Virginia Beach? If so, know that you don’t have to go through this process alone, and qualified legal help is available to you.
If you are considering a divorce in Virginia, you need experienced legal representation to guide you through the divorce process and protect your parenting and property rights. This is especially true if your spouse has retained legal counsel. A knowledgeable divorce lawyer could help you navigate this process and help you move on to the next chapter of your life.
Contact the Virginia Beach divorce attorney at Hardt Law, P.L.L.C today for a free consultation. Call (757) 962-5588.
Contested and Uncontested Divorce
In Virginia, a divorce can be contested or uncontested. In an uncontested divorce, both spouses have agreed to get divorced and will work to resolve issues like visitation, child custody, child support, alimony, and the division of marital assets.
Sometimes a divorce will begin as a contested divorce, but if all disputes are resolved through conflict resolution, and the two spouses sign a settlement agreement, then the divorce may be uncontested. While the court won’t approve the divorce unless the plan is in the best interests of your child, the process is generally straightforward. You might have to attend a few hearings, but uncontested divorces tend to be finalized much more quickly than contested divorces.
There are many reasons why a divorce may be contested. If one spouse is abusive, won’t negotiate in good faith, is generally unresponsive, or committed adultery, then it could be more difficult to get your divorce finalized. Even a singular dispute, over alimony for instance, could be cause for a contested divorce. This is true even if you and your spouse are on good terms and in agreement on every other issue.
Contested divorces generally take longer to resolve. Some contested divorces can be finalized within a matter of months, while others drag on for years. Ultimately, the sooner a couple can come to an agreement on the various issues involved in a divorce, the sooner they can move on with their lives.
Fault and No-Fault Divorce
There are two primary types of divorces in Virginia: fault-based divorces and no-fault divorces. In Virginia, a couple must have grounds for a divorce. The vast majority of grounds for divorce are fault-based. They include:
- A felony criminal conviction and imprisonment for more than one year
- Cruelty (which usually involves violence or a reasonable fear of harm)
Proving that a spouse is guilty of one of these acts can be tough. If you are filing for a fault-based divorce, you’ll need to gather, preserve, and provide evidence that backs up your claim. Because obtaining a fault-based divorce can be so challenging, it is highly recommended that you seek out a divorce attorney’s help.
Conversely, if you and your spouse have lived apart for an uninterrupted period of at least a year, you can apply for a no-fault divorce in Virginia. Although there is a waiting period, no-fault divorces can be resolved relatively quickly thereafter. The waiting window can be as short as six months if you and your spouse don’t have kids and agree on all the major issues.
Separation agreements outline how a couple will divide their marital assets and deal with other issues in the aftermath of a divorce. A separation agreement should be a written document that includes information about:
- Property division
- Child custody/visitation
- Child support
- Spousal support
Both spouses must voluntarily consent to the terms of the separation agreement for it to be valid, and both parties must sign it. Once the agreement has been signed, a court can approve it. However, because the terms of the separation agreement are legally binding, we highly recommend consulting with an experienced attorney to help you draft the document.
Division of Marital Assets/Equitable Distribution
When a couple gets divorced in Virginia, they must divide up their marital property.
There are two main types of property: separate property and marital property. Separate property is essentially personal property and cannot be divided by the court. Marital property is property that is jointly owned by the couple. It includes homes, vehicles, heirlooms, real estate, retirement accounts, securities, investments, and joint bank accounts. The court can divide up marital property for a couple if the two spouses cannot decide how they would like the property to be divided.
When a court divides marital property in Virginia, they do so using the principle of equitable distribution. In essence, the concept of equitable distribution means dividing property in a way that is fair. It does not necessarily mean that property will be divided 50-50, but rather that it will be divided in a just way based on the court’s judgment.
Post-Divorce Disputes and Modifications
If a change in material circumstances has occurred or a dispute arises after divorce, it is possible to modify your separation agreement. For example, if the spouse who pays child support has suffered a significant financial setback, such as the loss of a job or the onset of an illness, they might be able to modify the separation agreement to reflect their current circumstances.
Ideally, the two parties can collaborate on a modification order drafted by an attorney and resolve any issues on their own. However, if a couple cannot come to an agreement on a modification order, then the party requesting a change to the separation agreement will have to go through the court by filing a motion to change the document.
The best way to safeguard your original separation agreement is to have an attorney draft it for you. A poorly drafted agreement is much easier for the other party to challenge.
How Do I Choose the Right Lawyer to Represent Me?
When choosing a divorce attorney to represent you, you should consider a number of factors. You should hire an attorney who:
- Has extensive experience in family or marital law matters
- Has a strong network of professionals and experts they can consult
- Is skilled at negotiating and can help you avoid a costly court process
- Has your best interests in mind at all times
- Is compatible with your personality
- Is upfront about their legal fees and what the likely outcome of your case will be
As is the case in any field of work, there are skilled lawyers and not-so-skilled lawyers. When searching for an attorney to handle your divorce case, you should interview at least two or three different candidates before settling on one. A good divorce attorney will listen attentively, address your questions, help you understand your legal rights, and honestly assess your case.
How Hardt Law, P.L.L.C. Could Help
If you are seeking a divorce in Virginia Beach, contact Hardt Law, P.L.L.C. at your earliest convenience. Our accomplished divorce attorney has the knowledge and skills to help you successfully navigate the divorce process and obtain a favorable outcome.
Call us today at (757) 962-5588 for a free case evaluation today.