In the “old days,” if a person wanted to file for divorce, he or she would have been required to present a reason the marriage should be dissolved. The reason would normally be something the other spouse had done to make the marriage unsustainable (e.g. infidelity, cruelty, etc.). If the court was convinced of the defending spouse’s guilt, it would agree to dissolve the marriage. However, if there was scant evidence of the alleged wrongdoing, the court would oftentimes refuse to grant the divorce.
As time went on, more and more states began to use a “no fault” protocol when deciding divorce cases. Couples were allowed to simply claim irreconcilable differences with no fault for the marriage’s failure placed on either party. This trend has continued, and today more states than ever follow this protocol by default.
No-fault divorce in Virginia seems like an expedient option for a couple that wants to split, but it is important to understand the differences between no-fault and fault divorces in the state before determining which path is right for you and your spouse. Fault divorces can take longer, cost more, and delay each spouse from embarking on their new lives, for example — and that might not be what either of you wants to endure.
No matter which path you choose, an experienced Virginia divorce lawyer can guide you through the process. Here’s a look at everything you should know about local fault and no-fault divorce proceedings to help clear up any basic questions.
What Is A “Fault” Divorce?
A fault divorce occurs when one spouse alleges the other spouse acted in some manner that resulted in the need for divorce. Common examples of this include:
- Felony conviction
One party must allege one of the above conditions to file for a fault divorce in Virginia, thereby claiming their spouse acted in a way that divorce became imminent. Choosing a fault divorce may be in one party’s best interest if they think they could get a larger settlement by proving their spouse was liable for the marriage falling apart.
This process is messier, more time-consuming, and more emotional, however — especially when children are involved.
What Is A “No Fault” Divorce?
Virginia allows for a no-fault divorce, which means either party can file without placing blame on their spouse. You must list a reason on the dissolution filing, but it can be as vague as that the parties have irreconcilable differences. This allows for a smoother and less litigious divorce process. A few facts to keep in mind:
- To qualify for a no-fault divorce, you and your spouse must live separately.
- If you have minor children, you must have been separated for at least one year.
- If you do not have minor children, you must show that you have been separated for at least six months and that you have signed a marital separation agreement.
Minor children can complicate the divorce process, but a skilled and knowledgeable divorce lawyer can help you navigate the complex waters ahead. You can still file for a no-fault divorce if you have minor children, but you need to be prepared to negotiate with your spouse on many items involving your children.
This is where the advice and guidance of a divorce lawyer can be invaluable.
Is Virginia a No-Fault Divorce State?
Yes, Virginia is a no-fault divorce state. This means that you can file for divorce without claiming your spouse has done something to irretrievably repair the marriage. Also called an “uncontested divorce”, this process can provide a faster and cost-effective manner for a couple to end their marriage.
5 Benefits of No-Fault Divorce
Nearly half of all marriages today end in divorce. When you realize that your partnership is heading down this road, it’s important that you understand your options. The benefits of a no-fault divorce in Virginia may not initially be clear, but here are some of the most pertinent benefits for choosing one:
In a no-fault divorce, the couple usually agrees that they should divorce and prefer a fast divorce. This helps to speed up the legal process. There is a requirement that you have been separated for at least six months, but that time has probably already elapsed as you prepared for divorce.
With a no-fault divorce, you need a marital separation agreement. This legally binding document will cover division of assets and liabilities, child custody, alimony, and every other aspect of your divorce.
Doing this before your divorce is finalized by a judge means you have greater control of negotiating with your spouse.
In a no-fault divorce, your only appearance in court may be the day the judge signs off on your marital separation agreement. This is the day your divorce becomes official. When a spouse files for fault divorce, hearings and sometimes trials are required to settle. This results in an emotional, drawn out process. Your no-fault divorce will likely only require you to spend mere minutes in a courtroom, though, meaning you can minimize the stress and uncertainty you face.
A no-fault divorce spends little time in court, so your fees may be less. Your divorce moves faster and you will battle less over contested items with your spouse, which reduces the amount of time your lawyer needs to be involved.
When minor children are involved, a divorce gets emotional. The children may not understand what’s happening and may even blame themselves. Choosing a no-fault divorce spares your minor children from the heartache of seeing their parents fight. Continuity for your children is extremely important, and, while divorce will change their lives, a no-fault divorce can do so without causing them additional stress.
While you may feel compelled to file your own no-fault divorce in Virginia, that can be problematic. Lots of paperwork needs to be completed and filed with the court, some of which may require negotiation with your spouse. Starting your new life on the right foot requires the help and guidance of a trusted Virginia divorce lawyer.
Contact a Virginia Divorce Attorney Today!
An experienced attorney can review your situation and offer guidance as to the best path forward for you and your family. Your legal advisor will also complete the complex paperwork and court filings on your behalf, keeping you informed every step of the way.
Working with a skilled divorce lawyer can end up saving you money in the long run. Getting your divorce documents right the first time means that you can sail through the legal process and begin your life anew.
Contact the Law Office of Michael Ephraim today to speak with a trusted legal advisor who can guide you through this emotional and complex legal process.