5 Factors Affecting the Length of the Virginia Divorce Process

If you are considering a Virginia divorce, you should understand that the more divorcing couples argue over minor things, the longer the Virginia divorce process will take. To help you move through the process as speedily as possible, here is a list of factors for consideration.

1. Residency.

At a minimum, one spouse must have lived for six months in Virginia before either one of the couple can file for divorce. Members of the armed forces who are stationed in the state for at least six months satisfy the residency requirement.

2. Legal representation.

If your case is relatively simple and you and your spouse agree on all points, you have the option of proceeding pro se, in other words, to represent yourself. Generally, though, it is best to at least consult with an attorney before trying to take care of the divorce on your own.

3. Fault divorce.

A divorce process that is based on cruelty or desertion requires a one-year period to finalize the divorce. There is no waiting period when adultery is proven. The court can grant a divorce immediately. Divorces that are based on separation require that the spouses live separately for a one-year period, or six months with no minor children. Even though you may have a fault-based divorce, though, normally from start to finish, a contested divorce (i.e. a divorce where at least some issues remain unresolved and need to be decided by a judge) takes about 18 months to complete.

Fault grounds for Virginia divorces include:
  • Felony conviction
  • Adultery
  • Reasonable fear of bodily hurt
  • Willful desertion
  • Abandonment
  • Cruelty

Each fault ground requires very specific proof, and there are some defenses available.

4. No-fault divorce.

To obtain a no-fault divorce, the divorcing couple must live apart without interruption for a minimum of one year. If there are no minor children involved and the couple enters into a valid separation agreement, then they only need to live apart for six months to meet divorce process requirements.

5. Waiting periods.

There is no additional waiting period after you have satisfied the separation requirements for a no-fault divorce.

It is usually a good approach to seek legal advice even if you and your spouse agree on everything. The decisions that you make in your Virginia divorce will have significant, long-term consequences that may not be immediately apparent during times of emotional turmoil.

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Matt Kurylo

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