The first step in the divorce process in Fairfax is for one of the parties to file a complaint for divorce. Once the initial complaint has been filed, the other side must respond to the complaint for divorce within a certain specified period of time. The parties then exchange information regarding finances, custody, and any other issues that exist in their case. After the relevant and requested information has been exchanged, the parties can try to settle the case
If they choose not to settle the case, or if they are unsuccessful in settling the case, a trial date is set. Each side has the opportunity to present their respective cases at the trial. At the end of the trial, the judge makes their decision about all of the contested issues and enter a final order of divorce, which is the legal paper that gives effect to the dissolution of a marriage and orders a divorce that severs the legal relationship between the spouses. When going through the process of getting a divorce in Fairfax, it is important to work with a skilled divorce attorney who can help to streamline.
Filing the Complaint
The complaint for divorce must be filed in Fairfax, and a case cover sheet must be included when the filing occurs. There is a fee associated with filing, which around $100. It falls on the filing party to make arrangements for the paperwork to be officially served to the responding party, which can be done by the sheriff or a private processor.
Length of Divorce Process
If a case is contested and goes to trial, in most cases the parties should expect the process to range between nine and 12 months. Fairfax works hard to resolve cases, and can usually conclude the divorce process within a one-year period, unless any extraordinary circumstances exist. It can be a long process, close to a year, if the case is contested.
If the case is uncontested from the outset, meaning that the parties have written and executed agreement before they even filed for divorce, the process becomes a matter of submitting the appropriate paperwork. From start to finish if it is an uncontested case, depending on the time of year and the amount of work that the Fairfax courts have, the process will take anywhere between four and eight weeks for everything to be completed.
Unique Elements of Divorce in Fairfax
Fairfax divorce law is not particular to Fairfax; the laws that govern divorce are statewide although they are Virginia laws. However, different states have different rules about getting divorce. One particular rule that Virginia has that other states do not is that if there are no fault-based grounds for divorce, then parties with minor children are required to be separated for a one-year continuous period before they can even file the divorce case, even if the case is uncontested. In other states in the country, the waiting period is substantially less and there may be jurisdictions that have no waiting period at all.
The one-year requirement dates back to the notion that legislators in the Commonwealth felt it was important to do what was necessary to discourage people from getting divorced. The thought process in creating that required waiting period was that if parties were not able to go through the process of getting divorced on a whim or very quickly, they would be forced by operation of time to stop, reflect, and think about whether divorce is what they want. Despite the waiting period that exists in these situations, a Fairfax divorce attorney can still continue to help work through the divorce process and create a brighter future for their client.
Role of the Judge
If the case is not settled, the judge will have the responsibility of considering the evidence, including testimony of witnesses, presentation of documents, and maybe testimony of certain expert witnesses. At the end of the hearing, the judge decides what is appropriate based on the issues presented. That could mean the judge has to make a ruling on things like custody and visitation, property division, or grounds for the divorce.
Role of Each Party
The party that files for divorce and the attorney for that party must serve the paperwork on the responding party to effectively start the legal process. After that, the filing party will be responsible for presenting their side of the case. Once the spouse responding to the divorce is served with the initial paperwork asking for the divorce, the responding spouse has 21 days to file an answer to the divorce complaint. Then, the responding spouse will be required to say which allegations they admit and what allegations they deny. Down the road, each party will be responsible for presenting their own case. In addition, the responding spouse has the ability, if the grounds exist, to counter file their own case for divorce.