Virginia has one of the lowest divorce rates in the country with only 10% of marriages in the state ending in divorce. But if you’re part of that 10% group, you need to know about the Virginia divorce process and maybe even how you can secure a quick Virginia divorce.
In fact, you’ve probably heard the horror stories of divorce that dragged on and on as the couple battled it out. Not all divorce needs to go that route. You can get a fast divorce without you and your spouse going through emotional and financial hardship.
Are you wondering how to get a quick uncontested divorce in Virginia? Are you hoping to end your marriage quietly and get a Virginia divorce that doesn’t break the bank?
Read on to learn more about getting a divorce in Virginia.
1. Virginia Residency
Virginia does have a residency requirement to file for divorce. At least one member of the married couple must live in Virginia for at least 6 months before they can file for divorce.
Virginia has a large part of its population who are members of the armed services. If you’re part of the military you can meet this residency requirement by being stationed on a military base located in Virginia.
If you are your spouse are stationed on a military ship which has its home port in Virginia, that also meets the residency requirement.]
2. Types of Divorce in Virginia
In Virginia law, there are two basic types or paths to divorce. One is the traditional divorce route, the other allows the parties to speed up the divorce process.
In Virginia, there is:
- Divorce from the Bond of Matrimony
- Divorce from Bed and Board
Divorce from the Bond of Matrimony is a traditional divorce where you work through the steps of dividing assets, custody, and severing the ties of the marriage over time.
Divorce from Bed and Board allows a couple to speed up the divorce process by immediately starting the division of assets. It is a fault-based divorce. If you want a no-fault divorce, then you need to go the other route. More on this shortly.
3. Grounds for Divorce
This is based on the old idea that someone in the marriage has done something to precipitate the marriage ending. When you file for divorce you’ll need to state the grounds for divorce or on what basis you are ending the marriage.
Virginia asks you to state whether the marriage is ending in a fault or no-fault divorce. In both cases, the grounds for divorce must be indicated.
4. Fault Divorce
In Virginia, you can file for an at-fault divorce. It’s likely to take longer, but in some cases, like the division of assets, it might be prudent to determine fault.
Virginia has very specific grounds for fault and you must show evidence of the fault in different ways, depending on which one you cite. The fault grounds include:
- Adultery or sexual acts outside of the marriage
- Felony conviction that results in at least one year behind bars
- Cruelty or fear for safety
Your divorce attorney can help you with what evidence you’d need to show based on the fault grounds you use when you file.
If you’re filing on grounds of adultery or a felony, the state doesn’t require a waiting period. For abandonment or cruelty, the state typically requires a one-year waiting period. You can consider filing a divorce from bed and board during this waiting period.
5. No-Fault Divorce
A no-fault divorce doesn’t require you to state a reason for your divorce. Yet, the state does require a minimum waiting period before proceeding with the divorce.
If there are children from the marriage, you’re required to wait at least a year. If there are no children, then you’d need to only wait 6 months.
Typically, in a no-fault divorce the couple will spell out the terms of the divorce in a separation agreement. This makes the divorce process go quickly once you actually are through the waiting period.
6. Contested vs Uncontested
Once the divorce starts to proceed, there are really two ways the divorce can happen.
If both parties agree to the terms of the divorce it’s considered uncontested. If one of the parties has an issue with the terms of the divorce papers, then it becomes contested.
Even if both parties enter the divorce with the intention of keeping it friendly, even the slightest disagreement in the terms could turn the divorce into a contested divorce.
7. Path to Divorce
Once you understand the different ways you can name your divorce, it spells out the route your divorce will take in Virginia.
You could have a:
- No-fault, uncontested divorce
- At-fault, uncontested divorce
- No-fault contested divorce
- At-fault contested divorce
Each type brings certain risks, benefits and has certain requirements.
If you want a fast divorce and easy divorce, you want to hope for a no-fault uncontested divorce.
8. Serving Papers
Once one party files for divorce, the other one must be either voluntarily accept service by signing a corresponding document, or be served with the divorce filing by a process server or deputy sheriff. This provides a formal notice that you want the divorce.
If the other party does not accept service voluntarily and is served by a deputy sheriff or process server, that party must respond within a a specific time period. If they don’t respond within the allotted time, then the divorce could become a default divorce. Further steps are required, however, to finalize the divorce.
9. Military Protection
There are detailed legal statutes that protect the many residents of Virginia that serve in the military. There are different rules for serving a military member with a divorce, especially if they are on active duty or deployed.
10. Assets in Divorce
Virginia is an equitable distribution state for assets. The law allows for couples to decide on their own how they will divide up marital assets. However, if the couple is unable to agree on the division of assets, the court will get involved.
Understanding the Virginia Divorce Process
The Virginia divorce process really comes down to how cooperating spouses want to proceed. It can also proceed even if one party is reluctant to go forward with a divorce. State law spells out the steps for each route to divorce.
If you’re considering divorce, you need a good Virginia divorce attorney. We can help and we specialize in a fast divorce process so your divorce won’t drag out and you won’t have to live through difficult divorce proceedings. Contact the office of Michael Ephraim to get the help you need with your divorce.