There are two very different paths to take when getting a divorce: uncontested and contested.
Path One: Uncontested Divorce
The first, and more amicable path, is when both parties come to the mutual decision that the marriage is no longer working for either of them. In this case, they can sit down and draft a property settlement agreement, (or one of their attorneys can draft one on their behalf).
A property settlement agreement is a legally binding document that outlines the terms of a divorce. It covers topics such as child custody, visitation, child support, spousal support, taxation, and health insurance. The agreement is typically very detailed and specific to the couple’s situation.
The First Step: Separation
The amount of time that a couple must be separated before they can get a divorce varies depending on whether or not they have any minor children together. If the couple does not have any minor children, then they only need to be separated for six months before they can file for divorce if they have signed a property settlement agreement. However, if the couple does have minor children, then they must be separated for twelve months before they can file for divorce.
Signing a property settlement agreement is generally a good thing because it gives both parties a measure of certainty and finality. Once the agreement is signed, both sides can move forward knowing that there are no outstanding issues between them.
If either party fails to live up to their obligations under the agreement, they can be held accountable in court. By choosing the path of drafting and agreeing on a property settlement agreement, the parties don’t have to appear in court. Instead, it’s just paperwork, and no litigation risks are needed.
Path Two: Contested Divorce
In the second path to divorce, the contested divorce, couples must be separated for 12 months before filing in Virginia, unless one party can file for adultery, in which case the waiting period is waived.
The process of filing for divorce usually involves the filing of a complaint by one spouse, followed by an answer and counterclaim from the other spouse. This is typically followed by a Pendente Lite hearing, which is a temporary hearing that determines things like spousal support and child custody. Once they have that hearing, a final divorce trial will be scheduled.
Divorce proceedings can be quite lengthy. I’ve had to sit through 7-hour divorce proceedings before. I know people who have had to go through multiple-day trials. I haven’t had to go that far yet, but it does happen. The parties involved in the divorce trial present their case to a judge who then makes a decision about everything—who gets what, who pays what, etc.
The Timeline Of Divorce
If you’re looking to get divorced without any hassle (uncontested divorce), it’ll take anywhere from 60 to 90 days from the time the documents are presented to the Court. All necessary documentation is provided to the Court, and it is reviewed. Once it is determined that all documentation is correct, the file will be presented to the judge for his or her signature. However, before that, you’ll need to file a complaint and make sure the other party is aware of the proceedings. If they accept service, they will need to sign and return some notarized paperwork.
The length of time it takes to finalize a contested divorce varies greatly and depends on many factors. Some cases may be resolved quickly, while others may take several years. It all depends on the willingness of both parties to reach an agreement, the complexity of the issues involved, and the resources available to each party. If both parties are committed to resolving the matter quickly, it is possible to reach a settlement relatively quickly.
Getting Through Each Step Of The Way
Going through a divorce is an emotional roller coaster for everyone involved. When two people decide to end their marriage, it is often a very challenging process. But as time goes on, many couples find that they are able to work out their differences and come to an agreement outside of court.
Divorces can be very difficult and painful, but with time, communication, and adequate legal support, many couples are able to reach a resolution outside of court, even if they start off in complete disagreement.
For more information on Divorce Law In Virginia, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (804) 207-9381 today.