When two individuals get married, no one is thinking or planning to get divorced. However, as society well knows, there are a myriad of reasons why they may end up filing for a divorce. The Virginia divorce attorneys at Riley Law, PLLC have litigated countless cases involving various scenarios concerning uncontested, contested, and military divorces.
Virginia law recognizes two types of divorce: divorce from bed and board and divorce from the bond of matrimony. Bed and board is when two people file a legal separation but are not allowed to re-marry. Divorce from the bond of matrimony is a complete and final divorce.
Accepted Grounds for Divorce in Virginia
- Desertion or abandonment
- Mental cruelty or physical abuse
- Adultery, sodomy, or buggery
- Conviction of a felony
Though fairly uncommon, an amicable uncontested divorce is possible with some divorcing couples. An uncontested divorce is one in which both parties agree on everything and have already agreed to all terms in a separation agreement. An uncontested divorce can proceed quickly through the court system should there be no disagreements between the couple divorcing. Uncontested divorces are also typically very economical in cost to achieve if followed with no changes to the agreement throughout.
However, we do not recommend couples representing themselves in an uncontested divorce. Should any disagreements arise from either spouse, the divorce immediately then becomes contested. Once this happens, it then presents different dynamics of representation for either party.
A contested divorce is one in which both parties cannot reach an agreement on the terms of a divorce.
The terms could involve a variety of factors but the main issues would typically involve:
Division of Assets – Virginia is considered an Equitable Distribution State. This means that property and debts accumulated during the marriage and before separation. Property or income earned by either spouse before the marriage is considered separate property and only under certain situations may apply.
Allocation of Debts – Debts creating during the marriage or before marriage could be considered marital or separate, depending on various factors involved. When a couple is married, the property they purchase together during their marriage would be considered marital property according to Virginia laws. Virginia laws protect individuals that own property before the marriage and it is considered separate property. Virginia laws take into consideration any and all individual and combined assets, which also includes income earned after the marriage, and before separation. See more on Equitable Distribution.
Alimony for Husband/Wife – Spousal support is determined by the living standards for the individual who made less money during the marriage after divorce, and would they be able to maintain the same quality of life as before the divorce for a set period of time.
Child Support – Both parents are equally responsible for supporting their children. When couples separate or divorce the parent with custody may request help for providing for the child/children and the courts would use their guidelines for determination for child support.
Custody & Visitation of Children – Child custody and visitation rights is usually determined by the separation agreement between the divorcing couple or through the courts if the divorcing couple cannot agree. The courts use the Code of Virginia guidelines to determine child support in Section 20-108.2.
A military divorce in Virginia is slightly different compared to a civilian divorce. There are state and federal laws in place for military members who seek divorce. There are laws in place to protect military members that are active duty from being held in “default” from failure to respond to a divorce action. These laws are enacted to protect active duty members from being divorced without their knowledge. Also, according to the law, the divorce proceedings may be postponed for the entire time the active duty military member is in service for up to 60 days after that.
In order to serve an active duty spouse he/she must be personally served with a summons and a copy of the divorce action. This is in order for the Virginia courts to have jurisdiction over the active military member. The case can be made uncontested if the active duty spouse signs and files a waiver affidavit acknowledging the divorce action.
Military Divorce Filing Requirements
- One or both spouses must be a resident of Virginia
- One or both spouses must be stationed in Virginia (6 months minimum residency)
Division of Property/Retirement Benefits
The federal government has established the Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act (USFSPA). The USFSPA governs how military retirement benefits are calculated and divided. A military member’s pension may only be considered during the time-frame the couple was married.
Contact Experienced Divorce Attorneys That Look Out For You!
The legal nuances in Virginia laws can be quite complex. You need the experience that the Virginia divorce attorneys with Riley Law, PLLC have to help you through the legal maze of divorce. We have extensive experience in all forms of family law and diligently help our client’s through the complexity that the divorce process often presents.
We have handled divorce cases in all surrounding Hampton Roads court jurisdictions including the Virginia Peninsula cities and counties of Hampton, Newport News, Poquoson/York County, Williamsburg; all Southside courts in Norfolk, Virginia Beach, Portsmouth, Chesapeake, Suffolk and Isle of Wight.