The Virginia divorce process depends first on whether or not you and your spouse have any significant differences on major issues related to child custody, property division, debt division, child support, or spousal support.
Whether you and your spouse agree (uncontested) or disagree (contested) on one or more of your major divorce or other family law issues — our experience and knowledge of the Virginia divorce process and family law can benefit you. Our lawyers can help you define specific needs and goals, consider the issues, understand your rights, evaluate your options and choose the course of action that will give you the best chance to achieve the results you want.
Contested or uncontested, you can expect resourceful, high-quality legal representation and excellent communication, accessibility and responsiveness from us throughout the entire divorce process.
Courts in the Commonwealth of Virginia cannot grant a divorce without a ground (i.e., the statutory basis) for the divorce. In Virginia, the divorce ground for an uncontested divorce is being separated from your spouse for the requisite period. If you and your spouse have no minor children and have a signed separation agreement resolving your financial issues, you may qualify for divorce after you have been separated for six months. If you have minor children, the required separation period for an uncontested divorce (also referred to as a “no-fault divorce”) is one year.
Your uncontested divorce may be as simple as needing a basic marital settlement agreement, then filing for a divorce on the ground of a one-year or six-month separation. But oftentimes, the agreement you may need is more complex, requiring analysis of your real estate, investment accounts, retirement assets, and tax issues, in addition to child custody and support.
When the issues are uncontested and the “grounds” requirement has been met, the entire Virginia divorce process may typically be completed in 30 to 90 days from the date the divorce complaint is filed. In fact, depending on your case, you may not be required to appear in court to finalize the divorce.
When differences exist regarding child custody, child support, property division, spousal support, or any other family law issues; and initial attempts to reach a negotiated or mediated divorce solution have failed, or in cases in which there are disputed grounds for the divorce, your case is considered “contested” by the Court and by counsel. These contested divorce issues get resolved in one of two ways; either you and your spouse enter into a written signed agreement settling all or some of these issues, or, a judge, after considering the evidence presented at the divorce trial, will resolve these issues pursuant to a written order of the Court.
In Virginia contested divorce cases, the parties may proceed with the divorce on the basis of being separated from their spouse for the requisite period, or the parties may proceed with a “fault” based ground such as adultery, desertion, abandonment, or cruelty. Once a contested divorce case is initiated in Virginia by the filing of a pleading called a “Complaint”, your spouse will have three weeks from the date they are served with the Complaint to file an Answer or other written response. The case then moves into the next major phase, called “discovery”.
If your case involves a serious disagreement over issues such as child custody, visitation, child support, alimony, spousal support, or the division of marital assets and debts — we will work hard to achieve timely, cost-effective results outside of Court, even as we actively prepare to aggressively represent you at trial in the event your case does not settle.
We have a wealth of experience in handling “high asset” cases involving large marital estates, as well as cases involving more modest assets.
Discovery is the gathering of information from the other side before a divorce trial. Discovery typically involves sending out, or answering, questions called “interrogatories”, taking oral depositions, and requesting or responding to requests for the production of documents. During this stage of the divorce process, the Fairfax County family law attorneys at Wexell Milman continue their efforts to achieve out-of-court divorce solutions, while at the same time actively preparing for a divorce trial in the event your case does not settle.
In some jurisdictions, the litigation of issues takes place in one divorce trial. Other jurisdictions separate disputed issues into two trials, with the first trial reserved for the resolution of child custody and visitation issues. A trial involves the presentation of evidence, the making of arguments by the family law attorney for each party, and the judge’s ruling after the consideration of the evidence and arguments. Contested divorces by their very nature take longer to complete then uncontested divorces.
Since 1981, the attorneys at Wexell Milman have been helping clients in Fairfax County and the surrounding jurisdictions of Northern Virginia to end marriages fairly. Our practice is devoted exclusively to family law matters, and includes representation in both uncontested and contested cases.
Divorce is not about failure. It can happen to anyone, and in fact, it happens in about 40% of all marriages in the United States. What matters now and what will have the greatest impact on your future from this point forward is how you end the marriage.
To schedule an initial consultation to talk to one of our experienced divorce attorneys about your divorce case in Virginia, call 703-385-3858 or contact us online.