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 lawyer by your side.

At Select Law Partners PLLC, our family law attorneys in Fairfax 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 for you.

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

Fairfax divorce lawyer

What is the 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. Many times the Complaint is filed after the parties have already agreed to all issues related to divorce 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 is asking 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,” and it can involve using a third-party professional process server or Deputy Sheriff.

The defendant will then 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 Fair fax divorce lawyer can explain to you.

3. Finalize the divorce

The next steps will depend on the issues that need to be addressed in the divorce. If the defendant’s Answer included a Counterclaim, then a trial might be needed to resolve the disputed matters. The couple may also engage in negotiations to determine matters such as division of property, child custody, and 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 are the filing requirements in Virginia?

The time frame for a Virginia divorce can vary significantly depending on the particular issues in dispute and whether or not it’s contested. In either scenario, the plaintiff must be a legal resident of Virginia for at least 6 months before filing.

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 reach a resolution.

fairfax divorce separation

Virginia law mandates that the parties must abide by the waiting period specified for each type of divorce. This period prevents couples from finalizing their divorce until they’ve been separated for a predetermined length of time based on the grounds for divorce indicated in the Complaint.

Generally, the separation must be one year with the exception of six months if the parties have (1) lived separately for six months; (2) they do not have minor children;  (3) and the parties have a completed settlement agreement. There are exceptions to this separation period, depending on the ground for divorce. You should consult with an experienced Fairfax divorce lawyer to learn about those exceptions.

We understand that this system can be confusing, so our Fairfax divorce lawyer is here to provide guidance as you navigate Virginia’s divorce process. When you work with us, we’ll create a plan that can keep the time frame of your divorce as short as possible to help save you money.

What are the different types of divorce?

The biggest determinant in the course and cost of a divorce is whether it’s uncontested or contested. Our Fairfax divorce lawyer  strives 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 are able to reach an agreement 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 will need to intervene and make decisions 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.

Are there alternatives to traditional divorce proceedings?

Traditional divorce proceedings can be emotionally and financially draining. Fortunately, other options may be available to 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 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 are done with just you and your spouse and a neutral mediator. You can discuss the different types of divorce with an experienced Fairfax divorce lawyer.

Collaborative divorce

In a collaborative divorce, both spouses work together 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.

Meet Fairfax Divorce Attorney:
Sarah G. Goding

As a premier collaborative divorce lawyer 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.

Fairfax, VA divorce lawyer, Sarah Goding

Property Division

During a marriage, couples usually acquire a variety of 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 the case. Instead, Virginia has what’s known as an equitable distribution system.

In an uncontested divorce, the division of property 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 both 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 that the court will consider a variety of factors when dividing the property, including each partner’s financial situation and contribution to the marital property.

Process of valuing assets

Before the court can divide marital property in a contested case, it must first determine its value. 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 that specializes 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 division of property.

Fairfax divorce lawyer can help with property division during a divorce.

What are 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, then 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 it was purchased for.

Both you and your spouse should be aware of the potential tax implications when agreeing to a property division arrangement. Our Fairfax family law attorneys can help you find professionals that will be able to help you understand any tax implications you may have through the divorce process.

What factors affect spousal support?

Spousal support, also known as alimony or maintenance, is financial support paid from one spouse to the other during or after a divorce. It’s designed to help the recipient spouse cover their living expenses. Virginia courts grant spousal support on a case-by-case basis.

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.

Additional resources

You don’t have to go through this process alone. Our firm has a vast network of supportive professionals who can help you make the best decisions for your future. When you turn to Select Law Partners PLLC, we’ll determine what type of support is right for your situation and provide you with the resources you need to get the most favorable outcome in your case.

Speak with an experienced Fairfax divorce lawyer 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 family law attorneys on your side, you can put your mind at ease knowing that your case is in capable hands and focus more of your energy on the transition ahead of you.

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.

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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