Getting married is easy, but divorce can be infinitely more complicated.
In Virginia, there are several steps to go through once you decide to end your marriage. A divorce attorney can guide you through these steps. In this article, we’ll briefly outline what you can expect during the process.
Step 1: Meet Residency Requirements
The first thing to be aware of is that if you want to file for divorce in Virginia, you must have been a resident of the state for at least six months. The reason is that for the court to be able to proceed, the state must have jurisdiction over you. This concept is referred to as personal jurisdiction.
You can meet this requirement by providing proof of residency with documentation such as a lease, driver’s license, utility bills, voter registration, etc.
Step 2: Determine If Your Divorce is Contested or Uncontested
As a general rule, if you’ve lived apart from your spouse for at least six months, your divorce could be considered uncontested. However, if you have children, that timeframe extends, usually to one year.
This distinction can be important in terms of how quickly and seamlessly the process goes.
Step 3: File a Bill of Complaint
This document is filed with the local court, and it can include a collection of forms and information specifying the following:
- Marriage records
- Current residence
- Military status
- Birth records for minor children
- Statements confirming your age and sound mental capacity
- Statements from each party confirming that they are not incarcerated
Step 4: Formally Notify the Other Party (Service of Process)
This step is often a formality, but it is still required to proceed. Basically, the service of process is the act of notifying the other party that you are moving forward with legal proceedings. In this case, the legal proceedings are a divorce.
The state of Virginia requires you to fulfill specific criteria for a service of process to be valid. A divorce attorney at this step is critical to ensure that your spouse is properly served the legal documents.
Step 5: Determine Whether You Want a Formal Hearing
There are a couple of options to move forward with your divorce. You can elect for a hearing and then decide if you want your oral hearing in front of a judge or commissioner.
You’ll submit a Hearing Request Form along with other paperwork, such as the Divorce Decree, the Original Separation Agreement (if applicable), proof that you served the Bill of Complaint (or a waiver), and additional forms as required by where you live within the state.
If your divorce is very straightforward with no contested issues, you can potentially avoid a hearing and go the divorce or affidavit route. These proceedings are done in writing, and they may be completed at your attorney’s office.
Step 6: Wait for the Final Ruling
After completing the previous five steps, the final step is to wait for the judge to formally dissolve your marriage. You’ll receive a Final Decree of Divorce signed by the judge.
Work with an Experienced Divorce Attorney
If you’re considering a divorce, it’s highly recommended that you seek the advice of an attorney right away. It’s important to understand what your options are without emotions dictating your actions. By having an experienced attorney on your side in a Virginia divorce, you can save not only time and money but also heartache.
Contact the legal team at DiPietro Law Group, PLLC for a confidential consultation.