Virginia divorce proceedings in court differ with each case and will depend on the manner in which the parties approach the divorce. If a case is litigated in a more traditional manner, then the parties should expect that a divorce will be filed a year after the date of separation, unless there are certain limited fault-based grounds that allow the parties to file sooner. Typically, a Virginia divorce case, if litigated to the end, will last one year. Thus, if the two parties to a divorce case do not resolve the case by agreement at some point before litigation is complete, the divorce proceedings will generally not be completed until two years from the date of separation.

One important reason a person considering a divorce should contact a Virginia divorce lawyer is that it is essential they be aware of their rights. Often, a party to a divorce will not be aware of their rights to property or support and, as a result, will not receive assets to which they are entitled. For example, a party to a divorce may have property rights in properties solely titled in their spouse’s name, such as a retirement account. If that party is unaware of such rights, they may not be adequately or properly compensated in the divorce proceedings. An experienced lawyer can help to explain such property rights and what else to expect in Virginia divorce proceedings as well as work to ensure their client is fully informed of all assets to which they may be entitled before the divorce case is negotiated or litigated.

Spousal Support

Although it may not be applicable in every situation, spousal support often arises in divorce proceedings in which the parties have been married for a significant length of time and in which there is a substantial discrepancy between their incomes. In such cases, the party with the lesser income may be eligible for spousal support, through which the other party will be legally obligated to provide financial support to them after the divorce.

However, spousal support may be precluded in certain cases. For example, if the requesting spouse has committed adultery, they will often be barred from receiving spousal support. Thus, spousal support is considered as part of the factors and circumstances that contributed to the dissolution of the marriage.

Divorce Complications

Divorce is an emotional process. It is subject to a number of laws and court procedures. The confluence of all of the varying factors makes divorce a difficult and complicated process for all who are involved. When individuals initiate divorce proceedings, they are both experiencing one of the most emotionally taxing times of their lives and, at the same time, are faced with a complex process.

Contested and an Uncontested Divorce

An uncontested divorce occurs when two parties in a marriage seek a divorce and work together to find an agreement that resolves all of the matters and issues in that divorce. Such matters and issues may include custody arrangements, debt segregation, child support and asset division.

A contested divorce occurs when two parties in a marriage seek a divorce but are unable to resolve all of the matters and issues in that divorce. Contested divorces are, in this way, more complicated than uncontested divorces, and may require additional negotiations or litigation.

How Assets are Determined

There is a complicated process in Virginia for ascertaining assets. The court begins this process by examining the parties’ property and classifying this property as separate assets, marital assets, or a hybrid of the two. While separate assets are owned by one party only, marital assets are owned by both parties jointly. Hybrid assets, on the other hand, have both a separate and a marital component. After the court examines and classifies these assets, it assigns a value to each. Marital assets and the marital portions of hybrid assets are then divided between the parties.

Dissolution of Marriage

In Virginia, the term dissolution of marriage can be used in reference to either a divorce or an annulment. There are two kinds of divorce, divorce from bed and board and absolute divorce. A divorce from bed and board is a fault-based legal action that is granted in certain limited cases. Generally, this court-ordered decree occurs in those situations in which one spouse will not enter a separation agreement. An absolute divorce, on the other hand is an actual dissolution of the marital contract.

While an absolute divorce dissolves a valid marriage contract, an annulment ends an invalid marriage. A court will grant an annulment in very limited circumstances in which there is a legal reason that a marriage should never have existed.

Working with an Attorney

The greatest assistance a divorce lawyer can provide is advising their client regarding their rights in the divorce proceedings. This helps to ensure that they seek and are awarded all assets to which they are entitled.

The divorce process is very complicated and difficult to navigate. An experienced Virginia divorce lawyer can help to ease this process during what is a very emotionally taxing time period in an individual’s life. A Virginia divorce lawyer can help you devise a plan for your divorce process. Such a plan may include steps to separate residences or construct a custody and visitation schedule, and a skilled attorney is prepared to help you with everything.