Conditions For Uncontested Divorce
Spouses who are ready to move on from their marriage and agree on the division of all marital property, child custody/visitation and spousal support payments can file for an uncontested divorce in a Virginia court. This filing has two obvious advantages over contested divorce litigation – 1) It can be resolved much more quickly with the help of an experienced attorney (sometimes as quickly as one month) and 2) It will greatly reduce the legal and emotional costs expended by either spouse.
Spouses can obtain an uncontested divorce in Virginia if they meet ONE of the following two conditions:
1) The spouses have lived separate and apart for 6 months, there are no minor children from the marriage, and the husband and wife have entered into a Property Settlement Agreement which deals with all marital assets, debts, spousal support and custody issues.
2) The spouses have lived separate and apart for one year or more (in this case the above issues do not necessarily need to be fully resolved).
For spouses to be considered to have lived “separate and apart”, they must have lived in separate residences without any intention of reuniting. In addition, at least one spouse must be a resident of the Commonwealth for at least six months before filing, and the filing must occur in a county where either spouse resides.
Why The Help Of An Attorney Is Necessary
Some people may be wondering why they can’t simply file for an uncontested divorce without paying an attorney to assist. The reason is that an experienced attorney will make sure that all of the required documents are drafted, will draft them properly and make sure all local rules for getting an uncontested divorce are followed. Without an attorney, the divorce process is guaranteed to take longer and become more expensive, if it is granted at all. The most important document to be drafted in this process is the Property Settlement Agreement.
A Property Settlement Agreement is an agreement between both spouses determining the distribution of all assets and debts obtained/incurred before and during the marriage, and before the filing for divorce. This will include assets and debts such as vehicles, real estate, credit card debts, joint bank accounts, financial investments, and medical expenses. Even when the parties are agreed on all major terms, it is important to remember that a Judge still must approve the agreement. An attorney can assist the parties in getting the agreement approved by making sure its language appropriately reflects the parties’ agreement and includes clauses that clarify the desired arrangement.
As long as the agreement is fair to both spouses, is in the best interest of any minor children and is not entered into by either party under duress, the Judge is likely to approve it. Along with this agreement, the following documents are also required to be filed:
- Petition for Divorce
- Confidential Identifying Information
- Acceptance or Waiver of Service
- Hearing Request Form or Request to Have Divorce Heard by Affidavit
- Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law, and
- Decree of Divorce
As always, APLG can provide you with a free initial case evaluation. If you then decide to proceed with an uncontested divorce, we will charge a modest fee of $600 for our handling of the process, which includes the filing fee of $85. This fee will cover our considered legal advice, the drafting and filing of all documents listed above and any appearances at court hearings required to finalize the divorce.