News, Culture & Society

How Quickly Can a Divorce Go Through in Virginia?

Every marriage has its problems. Whether a marriage survives depends on the nature of the problem and how the couple deals with them. Couples who resolve their issues together may manage to save their marriage. Those who lack conflict resolution skills end up filing a divorce. Now, you might ask, how fast can a divorce go through in Virginia?

The divorce process in Virginia can be extensive and challenging to endure, or it can be quick if both parties agree on the separation terms and choose to avoid the court. Generally, the length of a divorce depends on whether it is a contested or uncontested divorce. A contested divorce can take up to 18 months, while an uncontested one can take 1 month to 3 months.

Contested vs. Uncontested Divorce in Virginia

A contested divorce occurs when the divorcing couple disagrees on the divorce settlement terms. The divorcing couple may have conflicts with any number of factors such as child support, alimony, child custody, division of assets, and debt disputes. The more shared investments and property, the more complicated a divorce can become. This type of divorce will need to involve lawyers to ensure the best outcome, which significantly raised the cost of the proceedings.

Money and children are the leading reasons for fights among couples. Each spouse may wish to gain custody of the children and keep a fair portion of all shared assets. Any contested divorce will take a long time to settle, and it can be expensive due to the involved litigation fees. Contested divorces can also disrupt the lives of children. If you want to shorten the divorce process and reduce the stress associated with divorce, you will have to resolve all differences outside the courtroom.

An uncontested divorce occurs when the involved parties come to a mutual agreement outside the courtroom. It is a perfect choice for couples without shared assets or children. The divorce finalizes much faster, and there are much fewer expenses. Furthermore, you can also use online services for paperwork preparation to save money and time.

In an uncontested divorce case, the couple must agree on the issues before filing for the divorce. After that, the process is pretty straightforward — they just submit their agreement to a court for approval. Uncontested divorce in Virginia does not require hiring a divorce lawyer.

An uncontested divorce will take around two to three months. On the other hand, a contested divorce will take approximately eighteen months. After going through a contested divorce, the divorce will finalize in thirty days after the signing of the decree if there is no appeal.

Fault vs. No-Fault Divorce

Virginia’s circuit court system handles all the divorce laws in the state. It also addresses other family law matters in the state. So, only one unusual divorce law applies – a divorcing couple may opt for limited divorce or absolute divorce. A limited divorce decree is similar to a separation agreement because it is not permanent, and it does not allow remarriage. Further, it does not terminate the property claims. On the other hand, an absolute divorce constitutes the final decree because the divorce is permanent. It allows remarriage and terminates any property claims.

Laws in this state allow couples to file for no-fault or fault divorce. In the event of fault divorce, one spouse has to allege some wrongdoings on the other spouse’s part when filing the divorce complaint. In case of no-fault divorce, one or both spouses only indicate that they would want to dissolve their marriage because it isn’t working out.

If one spouse alleges fault on the other spouse, he/she will have to choose from one of the four fault-based grounds recognized by Virginia law states. The options are:

  • Sodomy, adultery, or buggery
  • Conviction of felony
  • Willful dissertation for over one year
  • Cruelty, which may cause bodily harm

The alleged fault has to be proven in court. That alone makes the divorce case more complicated and time-consuming.

Online Divorce

Today, online divorce is becoming more popular. It allows couples to part affordably and amicably by simplifying the first steps of divorce. Using reliable online divorce service, a couple can get all of their documents prepared from any place, saving them money, time, and sanity. You will not be at the mercy of any attorney’s fees or schedule. Divorce processes are expensive, but an online divorce can help you reduce the expenses significantly – in most cases, by thousands of dollars.

Further, the process is more convenient and simpler. Meetings between spouses and lawyers are not necessary. Drawn-out court processes are not necessary either.

Is online divorce legal in Virginia?

Online divorce is absolutely lawful in Virginia. But to qualify to use online divorce services, your divorce must be uncontested. That means that the individuals involved have to agree on ending the marriage. They should also agree on other issues, including division of the community property, child support payment, alimony, co-parenting, and custody if applicable. Any couple that cannot agree on such matters is not eligible for online divorce. They have to follow the contested divorce route. Here are the steps you have to follow when filing an uncontested divorce online.

Step 1: Choose the Platform

Many online divorce platforms offer services in Virginia. You should pick one that offers the best services at a reasonable price. Companies that have been around for a while and have good reviews tend to be the most reliable.

Keep in mind that no website will act as your attorney. The website will choose and complete your documents electronically based on the information you provide. They will also provide you with filing instructions.

Step 2: File with the Court

Once you receive your court-ready documents from the online platform, you will need to file them with the court. Be sure all the information is accurate and that all documents are signed and notarized if required. At the time of filing, the court will require payment of a filing fee. If the forms are accepted, the court will assign you a case number and stamp all your documents.

Step 3: Service Your Spouse

Though you have agreed to divorce, you still must follow the process of serving your spouse. This requires having a copy of all filed forms delivered to your spouse officially information them of the divorce. If your spouse lives in another state, you will have to follow all laws of that state. Generally, a sheriff’s deputy or another official of similar rank will deliver the divorce papers to your spouse. They will require a fee for their services. To avoid the fee, the service can be completed by someone above the age of 16 years not involved in the case. The server must obtain proof of service, which is submitted to the court. After being served, the respondent will be required to respond. If they do not, the case will move forward as a default divorce.

Step 4: Obtain a Waiver of Notice

In an uncontested divorce, where both spouses agree, the service process can be skipped by obtaining a Waiver of Notice. This is a confirmation from the defendant or spouse saying that he/she has no objection to the divorce proceedings. This is a valuable step because it will speed up the divorce process. You will have to submit it to the court along with the other necessary documents before the final decree.

Step 5: Document the Property Settlement

You will need to present the court with your property settlement agreement. In Virginia, a property settlement agreement is also known as the separation agreement. If you are filing an uncontested divorce online, you will have to complete this step early to make the whole divorce process smooth and fast. The officials will need time to check the details. It is also the last step before the divorce hearing.

According to Virginia State Bar, the property settlement agreement is the contract between the involved parties. They also state that it has to detail the duties, rights, and obligations that arise from divorce and separation. It includes more than the debt and property. It also covers child custody, visitation, child support, spousal support, and filing and court fees.

Step 6: The Divorce Hearing

The divorce hearing is scheduled after the involved parties sign the property settlement agreement. Being present at the hearing is not necessary because most judges allow affidavits and depositions. But keep in mind that some judges will require an “ore tenus” hearing to sign the divorce decree. In this case, the plaintiff has to appear with witnesses before the judge.

How Long Will, the Divorce Process, Take If I Opt for the Online Route?

After filing the divorce paperwork, the divorce will take around 30-90 days to finalize. The availability of divorce judges to sign the Decree of Divorce and the caseload are factors that affect the time a divorce takes. Online uncontested divorce saves a lot of time because it significantly shortens the amount of time needed at the preparatory stages.

Conclusion

Unlike most other states, there is no waiting period for divorce in Virginia. So an uncontested divorce can move through the courts relatively quickly if the couple has all their paperwork in order. The length of time a court takes to sign the divorce will depend on the judge’s schedule. Steps you can take to speed up the process include using online divorce services for the paperwork, having a settlement agreement prepared in advance, and having your spouse waive the service process.