How do Uncontested Divorces Work in Virginia?
In the Commonwealth of Virginia, divorces can either be “contested” or “uncontested.” At first glance, the difference between these two legal terms may seem pretty straightforward. The word “contested” means that there is some kind of disagreement between the spouses, while an “uncontested divorce” is one that involves no disputes whatsoever. While this surface-level explanation is essentially correct, there are many more aspects of an uncontested divorce that you should understand before you move forward with your divorce. When you establish a clear picture of how an uncontested divorce in Virginia works, it becomes easier to approach the next few steps with a confident, efficient mindset.
Of course, the most effective way to approach your divorce is with the assistance of a qualified, experienced divorce attorney in Virginia. While gaining an understanding of how this general process works is certainly helpful, you cannot be expected to gain extensive knowledge of every single legal detail before your divorce. Rely on an experienced divorce attorney, and you can delegate the more complicated tasks to a legal professional. Your lawyer can keep you informed about the progress of your uncontested divorce while you focus on other matters.
What is the Difference Between Uncontested and Contested Divorces in Virginia?
In a contested divorce, there are one or more “sticking points” that the spouses cannot agree upon and therefore litigation is commenced. These issues might involve child custody, child support, alimony, or property division. Even if there is one minor detail that spouses cannot resolve, a contested divorce is the only way forward. Even arguing over who gets ownership of the family dog can lead to a contested divorce.
In an uncontested divorce, spouses successfully agree upon every aspect of how to deal with the issues arising from their marriage. Spouses put all of these details in writing when they draft a property settlement agreement. This legal document contains agreements on matters related to child support, child custody, alimony, and property division. An uncontested divorce is obviously much easier to wrap up and finalize compared to a contested divorce because there are no disputes for the court to resolve. Essentially, the judge only needs to look over your divorce pleadings, ensure there are no issues, and sign off on it.
Drafting Your Settlement Agreement
The most demanding aspect of an uncontested divorce is drafting the settlement agreement. This often takes a considerable amount of time and effort for both spouses. In some cases, you may need help from a professional mediator or someone who can oversee the negotiations. The ideal end result is that both spouses come to agreements on all aspects of their divorce, but this is not always easy. Even though both spouses might be committed to pursuing an uncontested divorce, arguments may still emerge. Divorce attorneys can also help oversee these negotiations, ensuring that you are getting a fair deal.
Once the settlement agreement has been drafted, each party’s attorney will ensure that the agreement contains the terms as agreed upon by the parties. You need to be very careful when creating this document and should not do it yourself, as even a slight error can lead to significant issues. It is worth the time, money, and effort to have an experienced divorce attorney review or draft the settlement agreement rather than creating issues that will be costly or impossible to reverse after the document has been executed.. A divorce attorney can make sure you have all your bases covered when they draft or revise your settlement agreement.
Requirements for a Virginia Uncontested Divorce
A settlement agreement is not the only requirement for an uncontested divorce in Virginia. In order to file for divorce, you or your spouse must be a bona fide resident and domiciliary for at least six months. In addition, an uncontested divorce is considered a “no-fault” divorce. This means that you will need to live separately for at least six months before filing for your divorce and also have a signed settlement agreement. If you have minor children, this waiting period is even longer. You must live separately for at least 12 months before you move forward with your divorce. The good news is that you can make the most of this time while you wait. During your 12 or six-month waiting period, you can craft an effective settlement agreement that both spouses are satisfied with.
You also need to deal with various pieces of paperwork as you complete your divorce. One of the most important documents is the Complaint for Divorce. This form details the grounds for divorce and provides the necessary information about you and your spouse.
Do I Need an Attorney to Complete my Uncontested Divorce?
Technically, you do not need an attorney to do anything in Virginia. You can always represent yourself, try to file the necessary paperwork, and do your own research into various legal matters. However, this just is not realistic for many individuals and in our experience does more harm than good due to the cost to try to fix errors when someone does it themselves first.
It’s better to get a qualified legal professional involved from the outset. These legal professionals can help you with a variety of tasks, including paperwork and creating the settlement agreement.
Attorneys can also help you as you negotiate with your spouse. You may be unfamiliar with certain details that could have an impact on some aspects of your settlement agreement.
Enlist the Help of a Qualified Attorney Today
If you have been searching the Virginia area for a qualified, experienced divorce attorney, look no further than NOVA Legal Professionals. At face value, an uncontested divorce may seem like it has every chance of progressing without any issues. However, you still need to approach this situation carefully, even if both spouses agree on virtually every possible aspect of the divorce. An uncontested divorce is always the best choice if you want to wrap up your divorce as quickly and as easily as possible. Book your consultation today, and we can make sure that you do not encounter any unexpected challenges when dealing with this process.
If you want to speak with one of our attorneys to discuss your case, reach out to us at any of our offices in Manassas, Prince William County, Fairfax, Fairfax County, or Stafford/Fredericksburg, locations to schedule.