An uncontested divorce is one in which the parties are agreed on everything: distribution of debts and assets, spousal support, child custody and support, if applicable, etc. If all is agreed upon, a divorce can be handled without any parties having to appear in Court.
It depends on whether the divorce is contested or uncontested, and whether or not the parties have children. In all divorces, we conduct an intake process during which the potential client answers questions about the marriage and the dissolution of said marriage, as well as children, assets, and debts. For an uncontested divorce, we draft a Separation Agreement that must be signed and notarized by both parties. Once the parties are separated for the statutory period of time and we have the signed Separation Agreement, we file a Complaint for Divorce, along with a Confidential Addendum. One party and one witness will complete, sign, and have notarized affidavits with the statutorily-required elements, and that will be submitted with a Final Decree. For contested divorces, we must again wait the statutory period of time and then file a Complaint for Divorce with a Confidential Addendum. In some courts, a hearing date will be set for the Court to hear evidence on equitable distribution, child custody and support, and spousal support, as well as the grounds for divorce. Some courts do not permit an ore tenues hearing, and thus depositions must be conducted, and briefs filed in support of the requested relief.
Divorces can take a few weeks to a few years, depending on several factors: the type of divorce; how long the parties have been living separate and apart; whether or not they have minor children; how many and the value of the assets and debts need to be distributed; if they are in agreement with the terms of the divorce or whether a Judge must make any determinations. Generally, the longer the parties have been separated, and more terms they agree upon, the less time it takes from beginning to end.
A no-fault divorce is granted on the basis of a period of separation--6 months for couples without minor children who have a signed separation agreement, and 1 year for couples who have minor children. The couple must be living separate and apart, without cohabitation, with the intent to remain permanently apart for the statutory amount of time. In contrast, a fault-based divorce may be granted for several reasons, as detailed in Va Code Sec. 20-91, such as adultery, cruelty, or abandonment.
Yes, VA allows fault-based divorces pursuant to Va Code Sec 20-91, subsections 1, 3, and 6. Fault-based divorces for adultery, buggery, and felony convictions with a year or more incarceration (with caveats) require no wait time. Fault-based divorces for cruelty or abandonment require a 1-year separation period prior to filing.
Know your assets, your debts, and whether you and your significant other are in agreement about any of the terms of the divorce. Know what your budget is and tailor your requests to your budget.
We know the law and stay up-to-date on changes to the law. I fight hard and fair, and rip through people on cross-examination. Further, we have an understanding of efficiency and Cost benefit analysis. Unfortunately, Lawyers usually come out the winners in divorce cases. This is because a good Lawyer should be realistic with their client. For instance, it's ridiculous to pay a Lawyer $3,000 to argue over an asset worth $1,000. It's the big picture in context that has to be viewed with a careful eye.