Divorce is one of the most difficult decisions one faces in life. Many who decide to end a marriage, though, are ready to put it behind them as quickly as possible.
People in this situation often wonder how to expedite a divorce. The answer lies in some key factors, including how prepared the separating couple is to work together on a smooth transition to their new lives. This guide will take you through the basics of finalizing a divorce in Virginia as quickly and smoothly as possible.
Seek an Uncontested or No-Fault Divorce for Quick Resolution
Any speedy divorce in Virginia would likely be an uncontested divorce. This approach is also called a no-fault divorce, in which both spouses agree to end the marriage and have begun to live their lives separately. Uncontested no-fault divorces can be completed quickly and even online, with no court appearance required.
One of the parties may at some point decide to dispute an issue, however. This can happen even after applying for divorce, and it can lead to months of waiting for court dates to resolve the issue. It is the contestability aspect of divorce that is most likely to stall the process.
The Elements of a No-Fault Divorce
Spouses choosing between a fault or no-fault divorce have many issues to consider. The no-fault, uncontested option means both parties agree to all elements of the divorce, including the timing, division of assets, marital settlement agreement and child custody arrangements. Setting aside these arguments means they don’t have to be decided in court, and the divorce can proceed quickly.
Requirements for a no-fault divorce in Virginia are:
- The parties live separately for at least six months (if there are no minor children from the marriage)
- Spouses with minor children must have lived apart for 12 months before filing the petition
- Each spouse signs a written agreement asserting that they agree on crucial marital issues such as division of financial assets, shared debts, tax obligations, child support, and alimony
- One spouse must live somewhere in Virginia
A simple uncontested, no-fault divorce is your fastest option when both parties meet these terms and are ready to move on without any disputes. A divorce attorney can help you decide whether this is the best path for you.
Grounds for a Fault Divorce
A fault divorce is where one party blames the other for marital misconduct. These are the four common grounds for a fault divorce, and they must be proved in court:
When one party was unfaithful to the other, this is grounds for divorce. Adultery must be proved in court. There is no waiting period to file the divorce petition and commence proceedings once proof is accepted.
This is where one party has caused physical or emotional harm to the other. The court will require proof, which might be medical or police records if the injured party went to the hospital or called paramedic/police authorities after a spousal altercation.
Either party having been convicted of a serious crime is grounds to end the marriage. This is relatively easy to demonstrate to the court, and there is no waiting period to file after this is established.
This is when a husband or wife disappears without telling the other spouse and fails to explain the absence for an extended period. The law requires a 12-month waiting period after the abandonment occurred before the left-behind spouse can apply for divorce.
A fault divorce in which there has been a clear demonstration of adultery, cruelty, or felony conviction may be expedited without the six-month or one-year separation waiting periods. Fault divorces are more likely to be contested, though, and could drag on for an extended period.
Why Aim for a Collaborative Divorce
A collaborative divorce is where both parties get comprehensive support, advice, and guidance from their legal team to settle disagreements. They may also engage personal divorce coaches, mediators, child specialists, and financial advisors.
A successful collaborative divorce is where both parties have agreed to key elements of the property division and taken other steps before proceeding, and will usually result in a marital separation settlement that outlines the division of property (including consideration of debts, taxes, and pension plans), arrangements for child support and custody/visitation rights, and spousal support, among other issues. The divorce proceeds like an uncontested divorce once that agreement is reached, because the couple collaborated through some form of mediation to resolve disputes. Here are a few tips for taking this approach:
1. Prepare Your Paperwork Comprehensively and Promptly
Before a couple can file a separation agreement, each party must complete and file a series of forms, including:
- A Bill of Complaint
- A Waiver of Notice
- A Marital Settlement Agreement
- Either a Hearing Request Form or a Request to Have Divorce Heard by Affidavit
- A Parenting Plan (if the couple has minor children)
- Proof that you attended a four-hour parenting education seminar
- Child support arrangements
This paperwork is straightforward, but completing it honestly, comprehensively, and promptly will speed up your divorce.
2. Secure Your Assets
Itemize and secure all marital assets, such as your family home, rental properties, investments, vehicles, bank accounts, trusts, and pension plans. You should also determine all tax and other liabilities incurred during the marriage. All property acquired during the marriage is considered marital property and is subject to division during a divorce in Virginia.
It is essential to list all of these in detail and verify that the other spouse is not removing funds from bank accounts or selling real estate or precious artwork, for example, before proceeding. A legal professional can provide guidance here.
3. Work With a Lawyer Experienced in Uncontested Divorces
Even uncontested divorces have numerous legal issues to address. A legal professional experienced in finalizing expedited, uncontested divorces is vital to delivering a quick end to your marriage. A lawyer experienced in providing uncontested divorces may help keep the proceedings from becoming acrimonious or contestable.
A good lawyer who can keep both parties working together and on track will produce the quickest and most equitable outcome. A skilled lawyer will manage the process by encouraging both parties to be supportive, open, and respectful with each other and keep conflict to a minimum. Your lawyer must also be able to competently negotiate with your spouse’s legal team to deliver the best possible outcome that addresses the goals and needs of both parties and protects the best interests of any children of the marriage.
Contact Our Expert Team Today
The Law Office of Michael Ephraim specializes in fast, affordable uncontested divorces in Virginia. Our expert team has finalized thousands of divorces, and we can guide you through this emotional and complex legal process.
Our goal is to deliver the fastest and most desirable outcome for your family moving forward. Contact our offices today to discuss your options.