People use a lot of different terms when they discuss divorce in Virginia. You may hear people refer to “No-Fault” or “Uncontested”. You may have noticed that some people use those terms interchangeably, but they’re wrong to do so. Those terms mean completely different things and all have different requirements and purposes. Let’s look at each one.
Uncontested Divorce Attorney
An uncontested divorce means that both partners in the marriage do agree, and that all issues related to support and property are already resolved. We show this by using a written Property Settlement Agreement, which is also referred to as a separation agreement. There are other requirements that must be followed before an uncontested divorce will be granted, but the Property Settlement Agreement is essential to an uncontested divorce. This type can be efficient and less expensive than traditional divorces, assuming that it actually does remain uncontested until it’s final.
A traditional (sometimes called “contested”) divorce happens when the parties don’t agree on some point. This could be that they can’t agree on how to divide their property, child custody, child support, or how to divide up their debts. It is very common for the couple to decide at first to go uncontested, but as the process goes forward they realize they do not agree on some critical point. When this happens, the uncontested divorce becomes contested if they can’t reach an agreement. Remember that an uncontested means that both parties agree; if at any point one party decides that he or she does not agree, then it is a contested.
When hiring a Virginia Divorce Attorney, it is so important to hire one who is prepared for a contested divorce. Even if you are sure it will remain uncontested, the safe route is to work with an attorney who is experienced with trials and contested divorces — just in case. This means that if it becomes contested unexpectedly, you will have an experienced litigator already working for you.
Virginia No-Fault Divorce Attorney
To get a no-fault divorce, neither partner has to bring up the other’s “dirty laundry”. Instead, you simply let the required amount of time pass. The time begins to run from the date of the parties’ separation, so long as, on that date. at least one of the parties separated (or remained separated) with an intent to divorce the other. In Virginia, the time that must pass is a minimum of one year. However, if you have no children and have entered into a written Separation Agreement, the period of separation may be cut to 6 months. After this period of time has passed, you can be granted a divorce with minimum hassle. Uncontested no-fault divorces can usually be handled by your attorney quickly and simply, after the required amount of time has passed with the parties separated.
A fault-based divorce means that at least one partner in the marriage violated their vows of fidelity, support or appropriate conduct. We most commonly see fault-based divorces related to adultery, cruelty, desertion, and conviction of a felony with incarceration. When the basis is desertion, abandonment, or cruelty that happened less than 1 year from the filing of the petition, only a divorce “from bed and board” can be granted. This is similar to a legal separation and does not allow the parties to remarry. It is not full and final. However, when the act occurred more than one year from the filing date, you can be granted a final divorce.
If you are filing, the “grounds” must exist before you file. If you cannot prove your grounds for divorce, and you wrongfully accusing your spouse of these grounds, that may be grounds for divorce by your spouse. Pending the end of the process, you should not do anything to give your spouse any grounds because it can, and probably will be, used against you.
Annulment of Marriage in Virginia
An annulment officially ends a relationship that at least one of parties thought was a marriage, but in fact was not a legal marriage. Annulments may be granted by the court only in certain rare cases, generally involving fraud, duress, or lack of capacity to consent to marriage. The legal effect is to void the marriage from the very beginning, as if the parties had never married. Annulment in Virginia is very rare. If you had a legal marriage, then it cannot be annulled.
Newport News Divorce and Family Law
At Wright Law, we are a full-service family law firm located in Newport News, Virginia and serving the entire Peninsula region of Virginia. We welcome clients who need an uncontested, no-fault divorce attorney, and we provide excellent, customized service with competitive pricing. But — make no mistake about it — if it unexpectedly becomes contested because of the other party’s actions, we are fully prepared for trial and ready to stand by you (and your children). Even if yours is simple, starting out with the right divorce attorney can be a sort of “insurance” to cover you, just in case the completely unexpected does happen. Contact us for a free telephone consultation.