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How to File for Divorce in VA?
A divorce is the legal termination of a marriage which severs the relationship between two parties and determines the division of debts and assets. Depending on the exact nature of the marriage, the divorce may be further complicated by matters of child custody, support, or alimony.
In the state of Virginia, a divorce will not be granted unless it has been proven in court and all legal requirements have been met. The highly skilled, award-winning family attorneys at Graham Law Firm, PLLC, are here to assist and guide you as you navigate the divorce process and provide you with information on how to file for divorce in Virginia to help you prepare for what lies ahead.
The first question to ask is can you legally file for divorce in Virginia?
Location of Divorce – Jurisdiction
There are specific requirements you must meet to file for divorce in the Commonwealth of Virginia. This is called jurisdiction. In order to file for divorce in Virginia one or both parties must be residents and domiciliary in Virginia for the previous 6 months before filing for divorce.
In the complaint, you must list the grounds for the divorce, and, in the case of a no-fault divorce, ensure that the timeline for separation has been met.
What Are Grounds for Divorce?
Virginia offers several grounds for divorce, including fault based divorces and no-fault. If any of the following apply to your marriage, you may have sufficient information to proceed. They include:
- Felonies (when a party will be incarcerated for a year or longer)
- 6 months separation has occurred (must have signed documentation for property agreement)
- 1 year separation (can’t have any minor children)
Depending on the grounds for divorce, there may be a waiting period before a divorce may be filed. In a no-fault divorce, the two parties must live apart from one another for a period of one year if there are children under 18 in the marriage, or a period of six months if both parties have entered into a property settlement or separation agreement. In each case, the separation must be uninterrupted with no periods of living together.
Our attorneys at Graham Law Firm, PLLC can review the circumstances surrounding a divorce and give advice about which grounds may be available to you.
What is Division of Property?
A key element in the divorce process is the division of debts and assets between the two parties is called Equitable Distribution. Property can be divided into two distinct categories:
Marital Property is property that was acquired by either or both parties, regardless of how it is titled, during the course of the marriage up until the time of separation. In an effort to divide the marital estate, the court may choose from the following:
- Dividing the property
- Ordering a monetary award to one or both parties
- Instructing that the property be sold, if jointly titled
- Awarding the transfer of jointly titled property to one spouse
In accordance with Virginia’s equitable distribution statute, the court is not obligated to divide the property equally, but rather to consider several statutory factors, which include:
- Each party’s contribution, both monetary and non-monetary
- The length of the marriage
- How and when the property was acquired
- The circumstances surrounding the dissolution of the marriage
- And more
As a general rule, each party will keep their own separate property which was owned prior to the marriage or acquired after the date of separation.
Spousal Support in Virginia
The court may consider spousal support in cases where the two parties have been married. The duration of the marriage and the difference between their incomes are factors to be considered. The amount and duration of the support are based on a number of factors and may be awarded as a lump payment or in periodic installments.
Custody in Virginia
The best interests of any minor children which were born or adopted into the marriage are at the forefront of every divorce. Custody is awarded based on a number of factors including age, mental and physical health, family history, and more, and may result in one of the following:
- Joint custody – Both parents share physical and custodial rights, although the distribution may not always be equal.
- Sole custody – One parent is responsible for making the decisions relating to the child and the other parent may have visitation rights.
Types of Divorce in Virginia
If you have made the decision to pursue a divorce, there are several ways to do so:
Consult with a Divorce Lawyer
The attorneys at Graham Law Firm, PLLC 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 thought his 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.