For many spouses, a divorce can be totally unexpected. You may be under the impression that your marriage is going well, only to discover that your spouse is unhappy and no longer wants to continue with the relationship. Indeed, the first time many spouses even hear about the possibility of a breakup is when they are served with the divorce papers. In other situations, spouses may understand that their marriage was on thin ice, and it was only a matter of time before things came to an end.

Whatever the case may be, both spouses may be totally unprepared for the actual legal process that follows. Divorce can be a long and complex process. You may encounter many legal terms that seem totally unfamiliar. You may be faced with significant financial issues as you split up your wealth with your former spouse. If there are children involved, you will need to figure out how to serve their needs and keep their best interests in mind.

In short, divorce can be a difficult process emotionally, legally, and financially. The emotional side of things is never easy to handle, and each spouse must process the end of a marriage in their own way. The good news is that you can rely on a qualified, experienced divorce attorney in Virginia to handle the legal side of things. With our help, you can pursue a divorce and move forward with your life. Here is what to expect from the legal process:

Filing the Initial Paperwork

Every divorce starts with forms like the Complaint, the VS-4 Form, and the Cover Sheet for Filing Civil Actions. These legal documents help the court understand that you want a divorce. In Virginia, many couples choose an uncontested divorce. This means that there is no real “blame” involved, and couples simply agree that the marriage will not work due to irreconcilable differences. Couples favor these types of divorces because there are fewer requirements involved. To file for an uncontested divorce in Virginia with minor children, you simply need to live apart from your spouse for one year. If you have no minor children, you can file after just six months as long as you also have a signed Settlement Agreement.

Of course, there are also “fault-based” divorces in Virginia. This is when you file for divorce for a specific reason, like adultery, abandonment, or cruelty. In order to do this, you will need to prove your claims at trial. Although this process is more complicated, you can move forward without the normal one year  or six-month waiting period. The offending spouse may also suffer certain disadvantages when it comes to property division and spousal support. 

Creating a Separation Agreement: If you file for a no-fault divorce, you can also take advantage of that one-year waiting period to create a settlement agreement. This is an attractive option for many spouses, as it allows them to avoid trial altogether. All you need to do is agree with your spouse on every aspect of your divorce. This includes things like child support, spousal support, property division, custody, and so on. Next, you will create and sign a legal document called a settlement agreement that clearly outlines all of these details. A judge simply needs to sign off on your divorce pleadings and  this document becomes a part of your divorce order  and you can wrap up your divorce. 

Going to Trial: Of course, many spouses cannot agree upon certain aspects of their divorce, and this may make it necessary to go to trial. During the trial, a judge will assess the situation and make their own decisions on matters like child custody, property division, and so on. This route is often unnecessary and and creates significantly more legal expenses and stress.

Property Division in Virginia: Virginia is an equitable distribution state. This means that the state will divide assets between both spouses in an “equitable” manner. Note that there is a difference between “equitable” and “equal.” Spouses will not necessarily walk away with 50% of the marital assets. In an equitable system, judges take a number of factors into account when making these decisions. For example, a certain piece of property might have tremendous value to one spouse and very little value to another.

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. We have been serving divorcing couples in Virginia for many years, and we understand that this process may be completely new and stressful for many individuals. During your initial consultation, we can explain the overall process of a divorce in much greater detail. We can also answer any specific questions you might have. We can develop an effective strategy together and move forward with confidence.