You can divorce your spouse in Virginia by enlisting the help of family law attorneys, going through the courts using their paperwork, or by using a Do-It-Yourself (DIY) online program. Your reasons for divorce also affect the method you use to end a marriage.
small s Big D
Before we get into the Big D (Divorce), we need to contend with the little s, separation. Divorce is always preceded by separation, which can be done online with a property settlement agreement or separation agreement.
If you select a robust online program that will withstand the scrutiny of Virginia’s Circuit Courts, the one online program can help you with both legal proceedings.
Family Law Attorneys
The most personalized — but most expensive — way to divorce in Virginia is by going to family law attorneys specializing in divorce. Their time and skills are valuable, so expect to pay for every communication, interaction, conference, and court session.
Still, for high-value estates, complex divorces, or divorces that may draw unfavorable attention, family law attorneys are ideally positioned to protect your interests.
Engaging a lawyer does not relieve either of you from the six-month obligation (without children) or 12-month requirement (with children) to separate before filing for a no-fault divorce.
Rather than have high income, several homes, and complex financial arrangements, let’s say you are at the opposite end of the earnings spectrum. Virginia’s Circuit Courts offer a “PETITION FOR PROCEEDING IN A NO-FAULT DIVORCE WITHOUT PAYMENT OF FEES OR COSTS.”
If you receive Food Stamps, TANF, Medicaid, SSI or some other form of state or federal relief, you can qualify for this method of divorce.
The “free divorce” does not simplify the steps; you just do not have to pay court costs and filing fees. You still need to be separated for six or 12 months to file for a no-fault divorce. You still need to navigate the court system with little or no help from the courts themselves.
By far the easiest, most user-friendly method of getting a divorce in Virginia is to use a DIY online tool. Make sure it is:
- Accepted by Virginia’s Circuit Courts
- Customizable to your situation
- Wide-ranging enough to capture special circumstances like business ownership and children of previous marriages
- Comprehensive, taking you from property separation agreement to divorce papers
An online DIY system allows you and your separating spouse to work out all the nuances and intricacies ahead of time, on your own, without spending a lot of money on attorneys.
All three methods of divorce — family law attorneys, free court papers, or a DIY online program — still have to take into account two other areas of divorce law: fault grounds or no-fault divorce; and contested or uncontested divorce.
Fault or No-Fault
You can get divorced in Virginia without either of you taking a major blow to your professional reputation or good name. No-fault divorce means you both just ran out of steam to keep the marriage going.
Neither of you did anything outrageous, illegal, or dangerous to the other. You lost interest or fell out of love. Whatever you want to call it, you and she want out of the marriage. No-fault divorce takes either six months or a year of separation before divorce proceedings can advance.
If you are in a hurry, one of you has to be the villain. Fault grounds for divorce speed up the process, but they are ugly reasons to sunder the marriage:
- Sodomy or buggery outside of marriage
- Conviction after marriage of a felony
- Jail sentence of more than a year for the felony
- Causing “reasonable apprehension of bodily hurt”
- Willfully deserting or abandoning a spouse
The last three fault grounds still require a one-year waiting period before the divorce is final. Neither of you will emerge from a fault-grounds divorce smelling like a rose.
Contested or Uncontested
Any divorce can be contested by one of the parties. Say you want to divorce your wife but she doesn’t want a divorce. She contests it by hiring a family law attorney. The divorce gets messy and becomes both protracted and expensive.
Any divorce can be uncontested, too. Both of you agree on every aspect, neither of you seeks to punish or impoverish the other; everything falls into place.
Fault grounds and contested divorces should be handled by family law attorneys. No-fault and uncontested divorces can be done through the free court filings (if your income is low enough) or with DIY online programs.
If you and your spouse have typical median incomes and want to get through separation and divorce as inexpensively, painlessly, and quickly as possible, opt for uncontested, no-fault DIY divorce using a quality program like MensDIYDivorce.com. You’ll get legal documents accepted by Virginia’s courts and completely customizable to your needs. DIY divorce with MensDIYDivorce.com is the perfect balance of economy, privacy, and efficiency.