Divorce is a challenging step in life, but that doesn’t mean it has to take months of court time. It is not unusual for couples seeking an uncomplicated, uncontested divorce to complete this process online in as little as two weeks – with neither party required to make a single court appearance.
The Commonwealth of Virginia allows uncontested divorces to proceed either online or before a judge, depending on your preference. There are some simple requirements to follow, and both spouses must agree to this approach.
An uncontested divorce that is finalized online is the most stress-free way to end a marriage if both parties can agree. It must be a no-fault divorce, meaning neither spouse is responsible for the breakdown of the marriage, and they have lived separately for an established period. This guide explains the necessary steps to getting an uncontested divorce in Virginia, from selecting your legal team to your lawyers filing the paperwork in court before the judge.
Apply for an Uncontested Divorce
Couples seeking an uncontested divorce in Virginia must agree on key issues, such as the division of marital assets and liabilities, child custody arrangements, child support, tax obligations, and alimony. Your legal team can handle this process entirely; you will only be required to meet with your lawyers before signing an affidavit or swearing a deposition to end your marriage.
Divorce can be finalized in two to five weeks, depending upon the successful completion of paperwork and the filing of necessary documents. The judge can then sign the Divorce Decree in the presence of your lawyers without your needing to visit a courtroom.
This process is much easier than the alternative, where a judge decides the division of marital assets and child custody arrangements. Your uncontested divorce can be finalized completely online, starting with these simple steps:
1. Finding the Right Legal Team
The first step in an uncontested divorce hearing is to complete an intake form with a firm you trust to handle your affairs. An experienced legal team is more likely to get you through the process smoothly and achieve a collaborative outcome between both parties.
Your selected firm will contact you to discuss your family law matter further after receiving the intake form. This is your opportunity to interview your lawyer and assess whether they are the right fit for your needs.
Finding a lawyer focused on streamlining uncontested divorces will avoid the likelihood of proceedings between parties becoming acrimonious and drawn out. You should feel confident that your legal team can keep negotiations between the parties relatively harmonious throughout the proceedings.
2. Determining Eligibility for a Virginia Uncontested Divorce
The Commonwealth of Virginia allows couples to finalize their uncontested divorce entirely online. They must be able to meet these requirements:
- Both parties agree to sign the divorce papers and have a marital separation agreement prepared, showing that the couple doesn’t dispute key elements around custody, child support and visitation, spousal support, and division of assets and debts.
- The couple can demonstrate they have been living separately for at least six months (if there are no children) and up to one year (if there are minor children in the marriage).
- One of the parties can prove residency in Virginia for the previous six months (driver’s licenses and rent records are sufficient for this purpose).
The criteria are fairly simple, but it’s always advisable to seek the advice of a divorce attorney if you’re unsure whether you qualify.
3. Court Filing
Your lawyer will assemble and submit a Bill of Complaint, which has pertinent information about the divorce. The details must be filed on a VS-4 form (also called a Report of Divorce or Annulment) and submitted to the court clerk. It will include the following information:
- The current residency information of both parties
- The date and place of your marriage
- The names and dates of birth for all minor children (if applicable)
- A written statement affirming that both parties are 18 years or older and of sound mind
- Proof of any relevant military status (if applicable)
- A written statement that neither party is incarcerated
The clerk will assign you a case number that will be cited on all subsequent divorce paperwork.
4. Notification of Spouse
Your attorney will arrange to have a process server deliver a notice of the divorce to your spouse, which your spouse has 21 days to answer. Failure to respond to this notice is considered by the court to mean they automatically consent to the divorce, which can then proceed by default.
5. Court Appearance or Not?
Decide how you want your divorce to be heard by the court. You have the choice of attending court and having an oral hearing or have your lawyer file on your behalf via either affidavit or deposition. This is the simplest and best option if all the other steps line up. The other party has a right to be present when statements are taken, and they can choose to either attend court or waive their right to be present.
Assuming both parties agree to a divorce by deposition or affidavit, then the uncontested divorce can be finalized without requiring either party to attend court or appear before the judge. Your lawyers will finalize the divorce on your behalf.
Divorce by Deposition or Affidavit Is the Simplest Option
There are two ways for your lawyers to finalize your divorce. The first option is to make a spoken deposition under oath at your attorney’s office that you agree to end your marriage. You sign the documented deposition, which your lawyers will file with the court. The affidavit process is similar: Your affidavit is sworn written testimony saying you agree to end your marriage. You must sign the completed document in the presence of your attorneys.
The judge’s ruling is the final piece of the process once all the relevant documents are filed with the court. The judge will either make an oral ruling or may require further information. A straightforward uncontested divorce conducted by the most experienced lawyers will usually result in an uncomplicated ruling and the Final Decree of Divorce that formally dissolves your marriage.
Complete Your Uncontested Divorce in Virginia Without a Court Appearance
The Virginia uncontested divorce procedure can be fast and affordable with the right legal team. The experts at the Law Office of Michael Ephraim have over 25 years of experience helping Virginia couples finalize uncontested divorces, and when a case is simple, we keep it simple.
We have helped thousands of Virginia couples end their marriages amicably so they could move on to the next phase of their lives. You can contact us today to discuss your family law matter in confidence.