Uncontested Divorce in Virginia
In Virginia, spouses may consider either contested divorce or uncontested divorce. The differences between these two types are significant.
- If the spouses aren’t ready to negotiate their divorce-related issues before filing for a divorce, the settlement will occur in court, which may become a time-consuming process. And if they cannot settle their disputes regarding joint property division and retirement accounts, custody over minor children, Virginia child support, alimony (spousal support), etc., amicably, they will need help from a lawyer making the process much more expensive.
- In an uncontested divorce, couples manage to negotiate every existing issue outside the court, which shortens the process significantly. In addition, they can save some money by using divorce paperwork preparation services, such as DivorceOnline, which are cheaper than an average attorney’s charges in Virginia.
Get Your Divorce Forms Completed Online
DivorceOnline is a top-notch tool that helps couples generate their paperwork. For no more than $139, the soon-to-be-divorced spouses will be able to get assistance with their divorce forms and easy-to-follow filing instructions.
To use the service, the couple has to be eligible for an uncontested divorce and complete a simple questionnaire to provide the information needed about their marriage and divorce. After that, they will be able to generate completed Virginia divorce forms and file them to the court.
Our service is fast and affordable, which makes it a great alternative to pricey lawyers. In addition, you won’t even have to leave your house to get your papers done, and they will be ready to download in just two business days.
With our online divorce service, there is no need to learn family law or pay for expensive legal services.
However, keep in mind that our service is only applicable to couples who choose an uncontested divorce. We won’t provide you with legal advice or protect your interest in court. If your divorce is contested and you need legal advice, you may need to hire an attorney.
Steps for Filing a Divorce in Virginia
An uncontested divorce process in Virginia includes several consecutive steps.
According to Virginia law, at least one of the spouses must have resided in the state for no less than six months prior to filing for a divorce. Another requirement is that either one of the spouses must be a resident of the state when the divorce complaint is filed.
As Virginia is a hybrid divorce state, the divorcing couples can choose either no-fault divorce or a fault-based one.
According to Virginia family law, to file for a no-fault divorce, the spouses must live separate and apart for no less than one year.
The spouses can also shorten the time frame to six months if they enter into a separation agreement and have no minor children involved.
In a no-fault divorce in Virginia there is no need to present evidence of the other spouse’s misconduct. Alimony, property division, child custody, and child support still have to be addressed. However, with a Marital Settlement Agreement, spouses have them already outlined filing the document among other divorce papers.
Fault-based grounds include:
- Adultery, or sodomy committed outside the marriage;
- Felony conviction with a sentence of at least one year and some period of actual imprisonment;
- Willful desertion or abandonment for no less than one year, and
- Cruelty that causes the other spouse to have a fear of bodily harm
Initiation of a divorce process in Virginia involves a plaintiff (a person initiating the case) filing the completed divorce forms with the Circuit Court. The divorce documents must be filed in a county where either of the spouses resides.
Divorce papers in Virginia
Filing for a divorce, a plaintiff should check local county’s website to get the information on the forms required for their case.
Basic Virginia divorce forms include:
- Divorce Complaint
- VS-4 Form, and
- Cover Sheet for Filing Civil Actions
If a plaintiff can’t sort out all the necessary divorce forms, they may use online tools such as DivorceOnline. This unique online service helps divorcing couples prepare completed divorce forms.
Such online divorce services help spouses save time and money on costly lawyers. And yet DivorceOnline does not provide legal advice. DivorceOnline helps the spouses prepare divorce forms and assist them with step-by-step filing instructions.
As plaintiff files a divorce complaint, they must pay the filing fee. In Virginia, the average filing fee is $80-90. The fees depend on the county; thus, it’s necessary to check the charges before filing using Circuit Court Civil Filing Fee Calculation on the government website.
Note: Plaintiffs unable to pay filing fees can prove their financial information and ask the judge to waive the fees. To do that, they need to submit a Fee Waiver form to the court.
In Virginia, the waiting period for getting a divorce varies from no additional waiting period to 6 months or even a year. The length of the waiting period depends on several factors that include:
- Ground for a divorce, and
- Adherence to separation requirements.
For example, for divorces based upon desertion or cruelty, the couple will need to live apart for one year following the abandonment or cruelty before they will be granted a final divorce decree.
If the proof is provided to the court in case of adultery or other sexual acts outside the marriage, there is no waiting period required to finalize a divorce.
There is also no additional waiting period in case of a no-fault divorce with no minor children in a marriage if a couple satisfied their separation requirements. Separation requirements imply that the spouses lived separate and apart for one consecutive year. Or, if they have a separation agreement, their separate habitation will be just six months.
When the filing is done, the defendant must be served with copies of completed divorce papers. This is called the “service process,” and there are several options for providing it.
Personal service supposes that the copies of the divorce paperwork will be hand-delivered to the defendant by a Deputy Sheriff, private process server, or a third party over the age of 18 not involved in the process.
The alternative is to give the papers to a member of the defendant’s household. The receiver must be at least 16 years old. A Deputy Sheriff usually holds such delivery.
Another alternative is to send the divorce documents via certified mail if the defendant accepts and signs for them upon delivery.
After the serving process, the plaintiff is ready to file a Request for Ore Tenus Hearing (an oral hearing in front of a judge). This form should be submitted to the clerk along with an acknowledgment of service and a completed VS-4 Form.
In case of a contested divorce, the court typically schedules several hearings as all the issues such as marital property division, alimony (i.e., spousal support), child custody, etc., must be resolved by the judge. Thus, a contested divorce is an exhausting and complicated battle that may not even satisfy the spouses.
An uncontested divorce is a more simple option for couples who wish to control all the decisions made for their dissolution of marriage. The divorce process won't take long for spouses who manage to resolve all their divorce-related issues before going to court. Thus, the hearing is more of a formality before the divorce is granted.
Getting a Divorce With Children
There are only two types of child custody in Virginia: legal custody and physical custody. Physical custody determines where a child will spend most of their time, while legal custody is about the right to make important decisions about the child. So a parent who is awarded legal custody gets to make decisions on the child’s welfare, health, and education.
Legal custody, as well as a physical one, can be either sole or joint. In Virginia, it is a common situation when the judge grants joint custody. This is the best option to ensure that both parents are equally involved in a child’s life.
In any case, custody and visitation arrangements can be settled by both parties before divorce process initiation. The couple can settle everything themselves and amicably, or they can consider mediation.
If everything is settled, the court will have to approve the agreement. However, if the parents didn’t manage to agree on custody, visitation, and child support, the judge will have to determine custody arrangements. In such a case, discovery may take place.
Typically the judge decides all the custody issues considering the child’s best interests based on the following factors:
- The age, physical and mental condition of the child, considering the child's changing developmental needs;
- The age and physical and mental condition of each parent;
- The existing relationship between a child and each parent;
- The needs of the child, including other relationships important to the child;
- The role of each parent in child's upbringing;
- The ability to resolve disputes regarding the child;
- The child's preference;
- Any history of family abuse or sexual abuse; and
- Any other factor the court finds relevant.
Besides, both parents have a legal responsibility to provide financially for their children even if they no longer live together. Virginia Child Support Guidelines consider both parents' gross income, the parties' custody arrangement, and child-related expenses. To calculate each parent's child support obligation, Virginia courts use an established by the Department of Social Services formula contained in the Virginia Child Support Worksheet. In most cases, child support terminates when the child turns 18 unless the child is a full-time high school student who is not self-supporting.
Filing for Divorce in Virginia Without a Lawyer
The Virginia divorce process doesn’t require spouses to hire a law firm. Instead, they may resort to mediation to resolve all the disputed issues out of court with the help of a mediator, guiding the parties through the negotiation. Spouses that settled marital property division, child custody, child support, retirement accounts, etc., they can proceed without a costly attorney.
To avoid complications in an uncontested divorce regarding divorce forms and sort out the paperwork fast, spouses can use online divorce service DivorceOnline. This unique tool helps prepare the required divorce paperwork without an attorney for an affordable price.
Do-It-Yourself Divorce in Virginia
- A DIY divorce is a great way to save time and money. If spouses are interested in settling disputes amicably without a lawyer, they should come up with a settlement agreement.
- One of the problems that may arise going through a divorce without legal help is the paperwork stage. However, there is another way to deal with Virginia divorce forms rather than hiring a lawyer. An online divorce paperwork preparation service such as DivorceOnline is a unique tool designed to help prepare divorce documents and assist with filing for an affordable price and within a short time.
- In a DIY divorce, the vital thing to remember is to sort out particular legal rights and obligations.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Luckily for spouses in Virginia, once they file the divorce papers, it usually takes 30 to 90 days till the divorce is final. If there are no complications to the case, such as minors in a marriage or marital property division, the waiting period won’t take long.
Various law offices in Virginia offer different prices for a divorce, starting at $500 plus court fees. And yet, the cost of divorce may vary significantly depending on how the couple deals with the overall divorce procedure.
The final cost may be reduced if a couple chooses uncontested divorce and deals with the paperwork without lawyers. However, other expenses such as online divorce service fees, etc., may arise and become a costly addition to the overall divorce cost.
There are several ways to reduce the divorce cost in Virginia.
- To reduce the divorce cost, the couple may handle all their divorce-related issues without a lawyer’s assistance. Online divorce paperwork preparation services may come in handy to save some money on legal help from a law firm.
- The couple may also complete the Fee Waiver form and submit the required documents. In such a case, a judge won’t charge a plaintiff with filing fees.
To file for divorce in Virginia, the spouses must file the Divorce Complaint and VS-4 form, among the other forms required in their case.
Online divorce paperwork preparation services may come in handy with sorting out all the forms necessary for filing.