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Ready to File for Divorce? What You Need to Do in Virginia

Deciding to file for divorce is a huge deal that must be taken very seriously. Once you have made that decision, however, it is equally important to make sure you handle it correctly. The events leading up to the actual divorce can have a big impact on how long the process will take, and even the outcome. Fortunately, as long as you follow the proper steps and get the necessary legal help, the divorce process in Virginia won’t be too complicated.

Residency Requirements

Most people can skip over this requirement, but if you haven’t been living in the state of Virginia for at least six months, you can’t file for divorce in this state. You will either have to file in your previous home state or wait until you have been here for at least six months. One exception to this rule is if you are a member of the armed forces who were stationed outside of Virginia for some time. In this situation, you just have to have lived in the state for six months prior to being stationed elsewhere.

Identifying the Grounds for Divorce

In Virginia, you must specify your grounds for divorce. The specific grounds specified may have quite an impact on how the divorce proceedings go, so make sure to discuss your options with an attorney. The options include:

  • Living Separate and Apart: If you and your spouse have no children, have lived separate and apart for six months and have resolved your issues with a Property Settlement Agreement, you may file for divorce on these grounds. If you and your spouse have children, you must live separate and apart for twelve months before filing on these grounds. Living “separate and apart” has a certain legal meaning. You’ll want to consult with our experienced team to learn more about it.
  • Abandonment/Desertion – When one of the spouses voluntarily leaves the other without just cause and without any indication that they plan to return. In this case, a divorce from bed and board can be filed for immediately, or a divorce from the bond of matrimony after one year.
  • Cruelty or Fear of Bodily Harm – In the event that your spouse has committed some type of act that the courts will determine to be cruel or may result in bodily harm a divorce from bed and board can be filed for immediately. After one year, a divorce from the bond of matrimony can be sought.
  • Separation Divorce – This is what most people will think of for “no-fault” divorce. In this case, neither party is legally blamed for the divorce. One must reside apart, with no cohabitation, for at least a year to have a full divorce. If they have a legal separation agreement, only six months will typically be required.
  • Adultery – If you can prove in court that your spouse has cheated, you can file for divorce immediately. Keep in mind that you must be able to prove that this occurred, so make sure to talk with an attorney about this option first.
  • Conviction of a Felony – If your spouse is convicted of a felony after the date of your marriage, you can proceed with filing for a divorce.

Property Settlement Agreements

Odds are that you and your spouse have accumulated assets and debts over the course of your marriage that will need to be divided. You and your spouse can negotiate an agreement regarding those matters, rather than asking the Court to decide via an expensive trial. This is called a Property Settlement Agreement. You can begin drafting and negotiating a property settlement agreement even before you file for divorce. You will want our experienced attorneys at your side to negotiate a fair settlement agreement on your behalf.

Talk with an Attorney

A divorce is not only a difficult personal event, but it is also an important legal process. Having an experienced attorney there with you will help to ensure everything goes as smoothly as possible. If you’re considering a divorce, please contact us to discuss your options today.

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