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How long does a divorce take in Virginia?

Posted on: January 20, 2021

One question that many people have when starting the divorce process is, “how long will this take?” Like so many answers in the law, the answer to this question is, “it depends.” Here, we will talk about the factors that affect how long does a divorce take.

  1. Fault or no-fault?
    In Virginia, you can obtain a divorce based on fault grounds (such as adultery, cruelty, desertion, etc.). An uncontested divorce is based on being separated for a certain period of time. If you don’t have children and you have a property settlement agreement, you only need to be separated for six months in order to obtain an uncontested divorce. If you have children or haven’t settled your property issues, you must be separated for one year.
    While an uncontested divorce has these built-in waiting periods, it is actually usually faster than a fault-based divorce. Why? Because in order to get a fault divorce, you have to prove in a court of law that the other party is at fault. This requires gathering evidence, calling witnesses, and preparing for a trial that could last for several days. The courts generally do not have trial dates available right away, so you could wait months for a trial date.
  2. How much can you work out with your ex?
    In divorce, as in many areas of life, the ability to compromise helps. If you and your ex are able to work out issues like how to divide your bank account, how to deal with the house, and custody issues, then your attorney can write it up into an agreement and get you through this process much faster. If you go back and forth arguing about who gets the teapot, the stereo or the dog, you will go through more drafts and more time. If you need a judge to decide every little issue, be prepared to wait for a hearing.
  3. Participating in your case
    Throughout your divorce, there will be times when your attorney will need information, your approval, or your signature on documents. If you respond promptly to requests like these, your case will go much quicker. Also, make sure your attorney knows that a quick resolution is important to you.
    From the date that you file to the date when the ink dries on your Final Order of Divorce could be a matter of weeks or a matter of years, depending on the factors above. Our attorneys at the Graham Law Firm would be happy to discuss these factors with you and discuss which option is best for you.

How long does it take to file for divorce?

The document that we file in court to get your case started is called a “Complaint for Divorce.” This is the document called a pleading which starts your case and officially requests that the court grant you a divorce from your spouse, and spells out why you want one. So, how long does it take to file for divorce?

  1. Is the case “ripe” for filing?
    If you are getting an uncontested (“no-fault”) divorce, you have to have been separated for six months (if you have no minor children and have signed a property settlement agreement) or a year (if you have minor children or you do not have a signed property settlement agreement). You can’t file until that waiting period is up.
    If you are filing on fault grounds (adultery, abandonment, cruelty, etc.) then you can file right away. Note that filing sooner does not mean being done sooner – see this post for more details about why no-fault divorce is almost always faster.
  2. How busy is your attorney?
    If filing for divorce quickly is important to you, make sure your attorney knows this, and have an honest conversation with them about whether they have the time to meet your expectations. Most attorneys have a lot of clients, and unless someone is in immediate danger (such as a domestic abuse case), they are unlikely to rush your case into court. That being said, it is possible to get a divorce filed the same day, if it is truly an urgent matter. If it’s not urgent, one to three weeks is a more reasonable expectation.
  3. How busy are you?
    Your attorney is not the only one whose input is needed for the divorce to get filed fast. All the facts that back up your request for a divorce need to be written in the Complaint for Divorce. Your lawyer has no way of knowing those facts unless you tell them. So, stay in close touch with your lawyer and be sure to get back to them promptly when they ask you to review a draft. You will also need to be available to sign the Complaint.
  4. What’s your hurry?
    Filing for divorce is something that can happen fairly quickly. However, it is worth stopping to ask yourself what the rush is. While emotionally you may wish to be forever free of your spouse starting the day before yesterday, divorce is a decision that should be made with your head. Taking a deep breath and slowing down may help assure that you get a fair result in your case. It may also give you time to explore settlement in lieu of litigation.

Consult with a Divorce Lawyer

The attorneys at Graham Law Firm are skilled negotiators and litigations and hold certifications in both mediation and Collaborative Divorce. We are here to help you decide which path is best for you.

Our goal is to help you achieve the best outcome given your circumstances. This includes time with your children, assets from the marriage, and reducing your liability for any outstanding bills you have as a couple. A divorce can be difficult, but the right attorney can help you through the process. We can assist you throughout the process and guide you through this difficult time.

Divorce Lawyers in Northern Virginia

If you are looking to file for divorce in the state of Virginia, the family law attorneys at Graham Law can help. Contact us online to schedule a consultation with a Northern Virginia divorce lawyer today.

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