If you are planning to get divorced in Virginia and qualify for an uncontested divorce, the process can be straightforward. In fact, we’ve compiled a short checklist that shows how to work through an uncontested divorce.
It is important to remember, however, that even a “simple” divorce will impact all areas of your life, particularly your finances. Many people find it helpful to work with an attorney who can protect their interests and ensure that legal requirements are satisfied.
1) Meet the Virginia residency requirement
The Virginia uncontested divorce process is designed for Virginia residents. Therefore, the court will require the spouse filing for divorce to show proof that they have lived in Virginia for at least six months. Evidence could include records of rent payments or documents such as bank statements or a driver’s license.
2) Reach an agreement on the key issues
To take advantage of the simplified procedures for uncontested divorce in Virginia, both spouses must agree on all issues. This includes many potential areas of contention, including how all property and debts are divided, the terms of any spousal support, and issues related to children such as child custody, visitation, and support. The parties should have a written separation agreement that spells out the terms.
3) Live apart for long enough
You must comply with the separation requirement to be eligible for an uncontested divorce. A couple with no children together and a written separation agreement only need to live apart for six months, but in all other cases, spouses must live apart for at least a year.
4) File a “bill of complaint” with the Circuit Court
The Court will require specific information in the divorce paperwork, including the bill of complaint and a Form VS-4. Although these forms contain similar information, one form is for the Court and the other is for the state Department of Vital Records. After the Court has received both forms, the clerk will assign a case number which must be included in all subsequent documents.
5) Provide legal notice to the other spouse
After filing the initial paperwork, the spouse who filed must provide official legal notice to the other spouse. This step is known as “service of process.” To meet legal requirements, the notice must include an official court summons, a copy of the bill of complaint, and other documents. The notice usually must be provided by a neutral third party such as someone in the sheriff’s office or a professional process server.
6) Wait for an answer
The spouse who is served with divorce papers has 21 days to file their answer with the Circuit Court. If they fail to respond, they give up any right to contest the divorce. In some cases, the court may grant the divorce by default. A spouse can also sign a waiver notice form to speed up the service process. If both parties sign a Final Order of Divorce, this document eliminates questions about proper notice.
7) Provide evidence to the court
The court will need evidence to grant a divorce. Parties can present evidence during an oral hearing with a judge or commissioner or the process can be completed out of court through deposition or affidavits. A deposition is a sworn oral statement that can be taken at an attorney’s office, while an affidavit is a written sworn statement.
8) Wait for results
If all the information provided meets the legal requirements, then the court should issue a Final Decree of Divorce. This document formally dissolves the marriage.
Help with Divorce in Virginia
Before spouses can file for an uncontested divorce, they need to come to an accord regarding key financial issues and other aspects of life after marriage. Then the results should be incorporated in a written separation agreement.
A Virginia divorce attorney could assist in the negotiation process and help prepare a separation agreement that protects your interests and fulfills legal requirements. The experienced team at DiPietro Law Group, PLLC would be happy to assist with any aspect of the divorce process. Call today for a confidential consultation to learn more.