Virginia Uncontested Divorce Attorneys Offering Sound Legal Advice and Representation
Couples who agree to end their marriage and resolve child custody, support, property division and other issues between themselves might be able to avoid the emotional turmoil frequently associated with contested divorces. If a person sued for divorce does not challenge it, whether because of an agreement between the parties or through a unilateral decision, it is characterized as an uncontested divorce. However, even though the spouses may agree on everything, termination of a marriage still may require the assistance of a Virginia un-contested divorce lawyer to obtain a court order terminating the marriage. While some people may attempt to handle their un-contested divorce without the benefit of counsel, there are a whole host of pitfalls that await them, especially if a division of assets is required. Just because a Judge enters an order granting an un-contested divorce, does not mean the plan administrator of your financial asset or retirement plan will divide the asset in the manner you intended. Oftentimes, the language in the separation agreement or final decree has to be very precise to effect the intended outcome and forms you order off the interment or the advice from the friendly clerk do not meet that standard.
Virginia Marriage Laws and Termination of a Marriage
Resolving all the issues in a divorce and reducing it to writing in the form of a property settlement agreement is preferable to leaving them for a judge to decide. When the parties to a marriage negotiate an agreement, they retain control of the outcome. A contested divorce in which a judge decides the issues removes control from the parties who must accept life-changing decisions made by a judge instead of decisions they make for themselves.
Separation Agreements are not required to be used in un-contested divorce. If you have no children, support issues or assets; then you may not need a separation agreement. Even without children or assets, you may choose to enter into a separation agreement to gain the benefit of reducing the waiting period from one year to six months. A separation agreement can effectively address numerous issues in a marriage; including, custody, support, division of assets, insurance, pensions and retirements. By entering into a separation agreement one can avoid a lengthy and expensive divorce process.
Grounds Used by Virginia No-fault Divorce Lawyers
The plaintiff, the party filing for a divorce, must have legal grounds to allow a judge to terminate the marriage. Most of the grounds for divorce in Virginia are based upon the defendant, the party against who a divorce is sought, being at fault by engaging in conduct leading to the breakup. Adultery and cruelty are two examples of what are considered fault grounds for divorce.
When there is agreement between the spouses to end their marriage, the law allows for a no-fault divorce based upon the parties living separate and apart for at least continuous period of at least one year.
The period is shortened to six consecutive months if the parties do not have any minor children, and they entered into a property settlement agreement. When proceeding on an executed Separation Agreement one is not required to show evidence of blame or wrongdoing on the part of the defendant, merely that the parties have irreconcilable differenced and have lived separate and apart.
Preparation of the Complaint
An un-contested divorce attorney must prepare a complaint which contains the essential elements upon which a divorce can be granted by the court. Included in the complaint are the following in a no-fault divorce:
- The date the parties were married and the place where the ceremony was performed
- Residency of the parties establishing that at least one of them resides in Virginia
- The fact that both spouses are mentally competent
- Whether either party is in the military
- The names and ages of any children of the marriage
- The date the parties began living separate and apart
- A request that the court grant a divorce to the plaintiff
The complaint must be signed by the plaintiff and filed in the office of the clerk of the circuit court. It is the responsibility of the clerk to arrange for service of the complaint and a summons on the defendant. This is usually accomplished by having the papers served by the local sheriff. The plaintiff may also choose to have the complaint served by private process – a private individual or company that serves summons on defendants. In many un-contested divorces, the defendant will sign an Acceptance of Service Waiver which allows the court to proceed without having the defendant served.
Once the summons and complaint are served, the defendant must file an answer within a period of time specified under the law. In most un-contested divorce cases, the defendant does not file an answer, but rather signs the waiver allowing the plaintiff to move forward on the divorce.
Other Documents Required for an Uncontested Divorce
An uncontested divorce requires a financial affidavit from the plaintiff and the defendant appearing in the case. The parties must also present a parenting plan and child support order to the court when there are children of the marriage who are not 18 years of age. A property settlement agreement executed by the parties can serve as evidence of the resolution of issues about the following:
- Child Support
- Child Custody
- Spousal Support
- Property Division According to Virginia Equitable Distribution Laws
- Parenting Time Arrangements
Plaintiffs Must Prove the Facts Upon Which the Divorce Is Granted
Two people cannot simply consent to being divorced, Virginia uncontested divorce attorneys must present evidence to the court through testimony from the plaintiff and a witness proving each of the elements required for a judge to grant a final decree of divorce. The witness must know the plaintiff and can testify to the fact that he or she has not cohabitated with the defendant for the requisite time. The evidence can be presented to the court through affidavits executed before a Notary public; or, through oral testimony at a court hearing. Your attorney will determine whether to use affidavits or to schedule a court appearance based on his knowledge of the local court and their procedures.
Get Advice from Experienced Uncontested Divorce Attorneys
The Virginia no-fault divorce lawyers at The Law Offices of John W. Lee, P.C. have more than 70 years of combined experience in the law to assist clients with all types of divorce and family law matters. We have four Hampton Roads locations in Virginia Beach, Hampton, Chesapeake and Newport News serving the surrounding cities and counties of Poquoson, Yorktown, Williamsburg, Norfolk, Portsmouth, and Suffolk, as well as York, James City and Gloucester Counties. Contact us today at (757) 896-0868 to schedule a free and confidential initial consultation.