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Divorce. It’s not as difficult (or expensive) as you think

I’m sure many of you think that getting a divorce is expensive, ugly, and probably drags on forever! I bet you envision two expensive lawyers standing in front of a Judge arguing over your prized Beanie Baby ® collection, just like on TV, right? But this doesn’t have to be the case! Instead, you and your spouse could agree to an uncontested or no-fault divorce.

“Uncontested” or “No Fault” means both parties wish to separate and obtain a divorce. “What do you mean “no fault,” it’s his/her fault that I can’t stand him/her anymore!” I know, I know, but that’s not what we’re talking about when we say “fault.” Instead, we’re talking about “irreconcilable differences.”

In Virginia, you’re able to file a divorce based on the simple fact that you just don’t want to be married to each other any longer. However, in order to obtain this type of divorce, there are some timelines that need to be followed and certain paperwork that goes along with each time period.

In overly simple terms, there are two types of uncontested, no-fault divorces in Virginia:

  1. The first type applies when you have minor children together. In this scenario, you and your spouse must be separated for at least one year; and by “separated,” we mean that you must physically live in two separate places and have no intentions on getting back together again!Although it is not required by law, we still recommend that you sign a separation agreement. This is a document that discusses the terms of your separation. This agreement covers everything that you two have intermingled together in your lives: children, cars, mortgages, businesses, credit cards, bank accounts, etc. This contract between the parties can be as simple or as complex as you two would like for it to be.
  2. The second type applies when you do NOT have minor children, or your children are adults.. Here, you must be separated for at least six (6) months AND you’re required to have a separation agreement. However, if you do not have minor children and you’ve been separated for one (1) year, you’re still able to get an uncontested, no-fault divorce in Virginia without a separation agreement.

What if he/she doesn’t want to get divorced? Talk with your spouse. It’s much cheaper and much easier if you can agree on some, if not all terms of a divorce. Even if you can’t agree on the terms of your separation, such as the custody of your children or who gets the house, you can still get a divorce from one another, but those big issues will still remain unresolved.

What about our children and their custody, visitation, and child support? Again, talk with your spouse. You two are the only ones who know what will work best for your family. Otherwise, a Judge is going to tell you what he or she thinks is best and both parties are going to leave the Courtroom disappointed.

What about our stuff, debts, the house? Work it out amongst yourself, but if you don’t, then get ready to pony up because it’s going to cost you everything you have to fight over who gets what!

We don’t live together. We don’t see each other. We’ve got nothing to do with each other. Why do we need a divorce? Well, for one, if you ever plan on getting married again, then you’re going to need a divorce. Two, if you don’t get a divorce and you die before your spouse, your spouse can get a percentage of your estate, even if you have a will! This is called the “Elective Share.”

I’d rather pay a lawyer everything I got than give it to him/her! Okay, that’s a contested divorce. Good luck!

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