Fairfax Divorce Lawyer

Divorce can open doors to a new beginning and a better future, but the path to getting there is rarely easy. From property division to parenting plans, you have a lot to consider. That’s why it helps to have an experienced Fairfax divorce attorney by your side.

At Select Law Partners PLLC, we understand you’re facing a difficult situation and need clear guidance to protect your rights and financial security. When you hire us, rest assured that your case is in the hands of experienced and compassionate legal professionals who will work diligently to achieve the best possible outcome.

Call (855) 541-4867 or complete our online form to schedule a consultation and discuss your legal needs.

fairfax divorce lawyer

What are the grounds for divorce in Virginia?

In Virginia, divorces can be granted on both fault and no-fault grounds. Fault-based divorces can be pursued if there are grounds such as adultery, cruelty, willful desertion, or abandonment. Conversely, a no-fault divorce is primarily based on living separately for an uninterrupted period—12 months or six months if no minor children and the parties have entered into a separation agreement.

Understanding the specific grounds for divorce in Virginia is crucial as it can affect other aspects of the divorce process, such as property division and spousal support.

Types of divorce in Virginia

The biggest determinant in the course and cost of a divorce is whether it’s uncontested or contested. Our Fairfax family law attorneys strive to keep divorce cases uncontested when possible because it saves time and money for all involved parties. However, we’re prepared to litigate any contested issues that arise if that’s what’s necessary to protect your best interests.

Uncontested divorce

In an uncontested divorce, both parties can agree on all key issues without going to trial. This is usually the fastest and most cost-effective way to end a marriage. However, it does require that both parties are willing to cooperate and compromise. This may be accomplished through traditional negotiations or alternative dispute resolution methods such as mediation or collaboration.

Contested divorce

It isn’t always possible to reach an agreement without going to trial. When both parties can’t agree on all issues, the court must intervene and decide on their behalf. Both parties will present evidence supporting their positions and allow the judge to determine the outcome.

This route of contested divorce is more time-consuming and expensive, but it’s sometimes the best option to reach a fair resolution.

Filing requirements in Virginia

Residency

The plaintiff must be a legal resident of Virginia for at least 6 months before filing.

Separation

Virginia law mandates that the parties abide by the waiting period specified for each type of divorce. Generally, the separation must be for one year, but certain situations allow for a six-month separation:

  • The parties have lived separately for six months
  • They do not have minor children
  • The parties have a completed settlement agreement

How long will my divorce take?

Generally speaking and excluding the mandated waiting period before the Complaint can be filed, an uncontested divorce can often be finalized in as little as two months. For contested divorces, the time frame can be much longer, and it’s not uncommon for these cases to take 12 months or more to resolve. We cannot give you a timeframe without speaking with you and understanding your situation. Please call (855) 541-4867 to meet with an attorney.

Divorce doesn’t have to be messy

Alternatives to traditional divorce proceedings

Traditional divorce proceedings can be emotionally and financially draining. Fortunately, other options may help you avoid the court system altogether. If you’re interested in exploring these alternative divorce options, it’s best to speak to a Fairfax divorce lawyer who can help you determine which approach is right for you.

Mediation

Mediation is an alternative dispute resolution process that involves a neutral third-party mediator facilitating negotiations between the parties. This approach allows both parties to discuss their issues openly and come to an agreement without having to go through the court system.

The mediator works for both spouses rather than representing only one of them. There are multiple types of mediation, some are done with your attorneys with you, some with just you and your spouse, and a neutral mediator. You can discuss the different types of divorce with one of our experienced family law attorneys.

fairfax divorce attorney

Collaborative divorce

In a collaborative divorce, both spouses work with their attorneys to come to a mutually beneficial agreement, along with a Coach. This process is designed to be cooperative and respectful rather than adversarial. It’s often a good choice for couples who want to remain amicable throughout their divorce but also have complex financial or custody issues to work out.

However, couples do not have to agree on things to use this process. They only have to agree to the use of the process. Everything else can be disputed.

Virginia divorce process

No two divorces are exactly alike, but there are some general steps that all parties must take in divorce in Virginia.

1. File for divorce

The first step is for one spouse (the plaintiff) to file a Complaint for Divorce with the Circuit Court in the county where either spouse resides. This document outlines the reasons for divorce and basic information about the marriage. The Complaint is often filed after the parties have already agreed to all divorce-related issues such as how they will divide their property and how they will share time and support their children. The Complaint must be filed with:

  • Domestic Case Cover Sheet
  • Civil fees (filing and service fees)

By filing an official Complaint, the plaintiff asks the court to dissolve the marriage, and the divorce process officially begins.

2. Serve papers

After the Complaint is filed, the other spouse (the defendant) must be notified of the lawsuit. This procedure is called “service of process,” it can involve using a third-party professional process server or Deputy Sheriff.

The defendant will have 21 days to respond to the Complaint by filing an Answer. The Answer should outline the defendant’s position on the issues outlined in the Complaint.

If no Answer is filed, the plaintiff will be able to receive a default judgment, and the divorce will be granted without any further action from either party.

If the parties have agreed to all issues and have a settlement agreement, service of the Complaint may not be necessary. These are differences that an experienced family law attorney can explain to you.

3. Finalize the divorce

The next steps will depend on the issues that must be addressed in the divorce. If the defendant’s Answer included a Counterclaim, a trial might be needed to resolve the disputed matters. The couple may also negotiate to determine matters such as division of property, child custody, visitation rights, and support and put this into a settlement agreement before the need for a trial.

If the couple reaches an agreement at any point in the process, the judge can issue a final order to make the agreement part of a court order and enforceable by the Court’s compelling powers. When key issues must be brought to trial, the judge will make a ruling on the contested matters.

In either case, the judge will sign and issue a Final Order of Divorce once all matters are resolved. This formally ends the marriage and enables both parties to move forward with their lives.

What factors determine spousal support?

The Code of Virginia specifically lists the factors that the court must consider when deciding whether to award spousal support, including the following:

  • The amount of time the couple was married
  • The standard of living during the marriage
  • The age and physical/mental condition of each spouse
  • Each party’s educational/occupational background and employability
  • The financial needs, resources, and obligations of each spouse
  • Any contributions by either party to the other’s education or career
  • The contributions that each party made to the marriage, such as homemaking and childcare in addition to monetary contributions

When the court awards spousal support, it’s usually paid by the higher-earning spouse to the lower-earning spouse. For example, if one spouse left the workforce to raise children and manage the household, the court might award spousal support to that spouse.

Divorce and property division

During a marriage, couples usually acquire various assets and debts from their various endeavors. When a couple gets divorced, these must all be divided fairly between the parties. In many divorce cases, the greatest challenge is reaching an agreement regarding the division of marital property.

Equitable distribution

Many people mistakenly believe that Virginia operates under community property laws, but this isn’t true. Instead, Virginia has what’s known as an equitable distribution system.

In an uncontested divorce, property division can be settled through collaboration, mediation or negotiations. This route allows the couple to decide how to divide their assets without going before a judge. As long as they agree to the property division arrangement, they can divide their assets however they see fit.

In contrast, when a divorce is contested, the court will use Virginia’s equitable distribution laws to divide the couple’s property.

Under this system, marital property is divided in an equitable and fair manner — not necessarily in equal shares. This means the court will consider various factors when dividing the property, including each partner’s financial situation and contribution to the marital property.

Process of valuing assets

It must determine its value before the court can divide marital property in a contested case. This process is known as asset valuation, and it involves assigning a dollar value to all marital property, such as real estate, vehicles, bank accounts, stocks, businesses, investment and retirement accounts, and furniture.

Asset valuation can be a complicated process that requires the help of a professional. An appraiser, often one specializing in family law, will be hired to determine the value of each asset. Once the appraiser has completed the valuation, they’ll present a report to the court and both parties. The court then uses this report to make a final determination regarding the property division.

Potential tax implications

Generally, and unless an asset is sold, property transfers between spouses pursuant to a divorce aren’t taxable. However, if property or stocks are sold, there can be significant tax implications. For example, capital gains taxes may be triggered when a shared residential property is sold at a higher price than purchased.

Both you and your spouse should know the potential tax implications when agreeing to a property division arrangement. Our Fairfax divorce attorneys can help you find professionals who can help you understand any tax implications you may have through the divorce process.

Dividing retirement and pension plans

The division of retirement assets, including pensions and 401(k) plans, requires careful handling to ensure fair distribution between spouses. Virginia employs Qualified Domestic Relations Orders (QDROs) to distribute retirement benefits, ensuring each party receives their rightful share without unnecessary tax penalties. These financial instruments must be handled correctly to be considered legally valid.

Post-divorce modifications

Post-divorce, circumstances may change significantly enough to warrant a modification of the divorce decree, particularly concerning child support, spousal support, or custody arrangements. Modifications are based on a demonstrated change in circumstances, and legal counsel can help petition the court for an adjustment under Virginia Code Section 20-108.

Speak with an experienced Fairfax divorce attorney today

Your divorce is a uniquely personal situation, and you deserve personalized legal advice tailored to your individual needs. At Select Law Partners PLLC, we take pride in helping people like you achieve favorable outcomes in their divorce cases. With our Fairfax divorce lawyers on your side, you can put your mind at ease knowing that your case is in capable hands and focus more energy on the transition ahead.

If you’re considering divorce in Fairfax, Virginia, call us today at (855) 541-4867 or contact us online to schedule a consultation with one of our experienced divorce attorneys.

Our Fairfax divorce attorneys are here for you

Matthew Kurylo

Matt Kurylo is a family lawyer in Virginia committed to providing high-quality representation to Northern and Central Virginia families. Given his experience and background in family law cases, Matt primarily focuses on issues pertaining to divorce, military divorce, child custody, child support, and property division. Additionally, he provides mediation services related to family law issues. Currently, Matt serves as the firm’s managing partner.

Meet our attorney Sarah G. Goding

As a premier collaborative divorce attorney in Northern Virginia, Sarah G. Goding is committed to finding innovative and creative solutions tailored to each client’s unique situation. By applying her extensive family law knowledge and robust negotiation skills, she strives to help her clients achieve their desired outcomes while preserving the dignity and respect of all involved parties.

The information you obtain at this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation.

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