How long will it take? That depends. You don’t want the divorce process to drag on unnecessarily and negotiating the terms, and finalizing the paperwork doesn’t have to be complicated. You can get an efficient divorce if you compromise on a settlement and file the correct type of divorce.
Here we explain the types of divorces in Virginia and the steps you must follow to proceed with the filing.
Elements of an Uncontested Divorce
An uncontested divorce is more straightforward than a contested divorce. You can file this type if you and your spouse agree to the terms of the agreement, such as property division, alimony, and child custody if you have kids.
Virginia Code § 20-97 requires divorcing couples to meet the residency requirement to pursue an uncontested divorce. That means you or your ex has lived in the state for at least six months before filing.
You must also decide the grounds for dissolving the marriage. You can choose a no-fault or fault-based divorce. Only a no-fault divorce is allowed in an uncontested divorce. Unlike a fault-based divorce, it does not involve marital misconduct, such as cruelty, adultery, or desertion.
According to Virginia Code § 20-91, you can pursue a no-fault divorce if you and your spouse have resided apart and separately without sexual relations for:
- At least one year; or
- Six months or longer if you don’t have minor children.
Another essential factor in an uncontested divorce involves preparing a separation agreement. The agreement outlines all the issues you and your spouse have agreed to in the case, such as:
- Whether one of you will pay the other alimony and the payment amount
- How to divide marital property
- The allocation of marital debts
- Child custody, visitation, and child support if you share kids
How to File for an Uncontested No-Fault Divorce in Virginia
The divorce forms you must complete in an uncontested no-fault divorce depend on the rules of the state or city circuit court you deal with and whether you and your spouse have children. Typically, you must file these forms:
- Complaint – A signed complaint should include the details of your divorce. It initiates the divorce process when you file it in court.
- Domestic case cover sheet – You must include a cover sheet discussing the type of divorce you want, information about you and your spouse, and whether you hired lawyers.
- Affidavit of Moving Party in a Divorce Proceeding – You must confirm that you meet an uncontested divorce’s requirements by signing an affidavit before a notary public.
- Copies of forms – The Commonwealth of Virginia doesn’t require formal service of divorce papers when filing for an uncontested divorce. You can give your spouse copies for their records.
- Acceptance/Waiver of Service of Process – You and your spouse must sign a waiver before a notary and file it with the other required documents.
- Proposed divorce decree – Submit a copy of your separation agreement with a proposed final divorce decree for the judge to review.
The judge must sign off on your divorce for it to be final. It shouldn’t take more than a few months if you and your spouse already meet the separation requirement.
Why Contested Divorces Take Longer
If you or your spouse don’t want to get divorced or can’t agree on the terms of the divorce, you must file for a contested divorce. It takes significantly longer than an uncontested divorce because you need a judge to resolve your issues.
The duration of your case will depend on multiple factors, but it could take a year or longer. Sometimes, contested divorces last numerous years, especially if the divorcing couple fights over high-value assets and child custody.
Get Help with Your Virginia Divorce
You hope for a speedy process but might encounter a roadblock. When you and your spouse can’t seem to agree on one or more issues, divorce can take longer than you expect. However, you don’t have to go through legal proceedings alone.
Hardt Law, P.L.L.C. can provide the guidance and representation you need. Call us at (757) 962-5588 for a free consultation with an experienced divorce lawyer in Virginia Beach, VA, today. Let us fight for your rights and interests.