Divorce is never easy, but undoubtedly some divorces are far more miserable than others. Nevertheless, your divorce doesn't need to replicate a bad TV drama. Uncontested divorces offer couples a better and kinder way to obtain a divorce. In an uncontested divorce, spouses reach an agreement on all issues in their divorce and avoid the headache and stress of attending a trial before a judge.
This article provides a general overview of the uncontested divorce process in Virginia. If after reading this article, you still have questions about obtaining an uncontested divorce, contact a local family law attorney for advice.
Couples with or without children may obtain an uncontested divorce in Virginia. Uncontested divorces are generally less expensive and faster than contested divorces and are available to spouses that are able to work through the issues of their divorce together.
If spouses are able to agree on all issues in the divorce, including child custody, visitation and child support, then an uncontested divorce is an expedited option for divorcing spouses. For more information on calculating child support for divorce purposes in Virginia, click here. If you are unable to agree with your spouse on any major issue in the divorce, then your divorce is considered contested and you’ll need to attend a trial where a judge will decide the issues remaining in your divorce.
The following is a list of major issues that must be resolved by the spouses before filing an uncontested divorce action in Virginia:
To obtain an uncontested divorce in Virginia you must meet the following criteria:
If you meet all of the above criteria, you may proceed with your uncontested divorce by filing the required forms as discussed below. The spouse who files the initial paperwork is called the "plaintiff" and the other spouse is the "defendant."
The Virginia Courts publish a handbook of Basic Virginia Divorce Procedures with information needed to complete the divorce process on your own. If you plan to file for divorce without the help of an attorney, you will be responsible for all the necessary documents in the correct court. Virginia’s circuit courts are courts of general jurisdiction that oversee divorce cases and trials. Virginia’s circuit court system includes 31 judicial districts with 120 separate circuit courts. Some counties have more than one circuit court. Where you live will determine where you file for divorce; although generally, you will file your divorce paperwork in the county where you reside. If you and your spouse live in separate counties within Virginia, either the county in which you live, or where your spouse lives, is where you will file your paperwork.
The Virginia State Courts offer online forms for completing an uncontested divorce available here and through the various county websites or in hard copy at your local courthouse. The following documents must be filed with your divorce paperwork:
If you and your spouse have children together under the age of 18, then the following forms must be filed as well:
The required paperwork to complete a divorce in Virginia varies from county to county and depending on where you live, forms in addition to those listed above may be required to complete your divorce. Check with your local court clerk for more information and to determine whether you need to file additional forms.
Unlike some other states, Virginia does not have a set timeline on how long spouses have to wait for a divorce. In an uncontested divorce, the spouses can avoid going to court altogether by filing a request to have their divorce heard by affidavit, rather than through a court hearing.
How long the court will take to sign your divorce will simply depend on the judge’s schedule; however if your spouse accepts service and waives answering the divorce complaint, your divorce could be handled very quickly. The date the judge signs the Decree of Divorce is when your divorce becomes final.
If you have additional questions about obtaining an uncontested divorce in Virginia, contact an experienced family law attorney for assistance.
For more information on uncontested divorces in Virginia, see Virginia Code, Title 20, Chapter 6.