So you and your spouse know you want to get a divorce, and you’d prefer to keep things civil throughout the process. This is a great first step.
Known as an uncontested divorce, this option is the simplest, most time-saving and cost-effective way for married parties to go their separate ways in Virginia.
Even so, it’s helpful to know the basics before you get started. In this article, our divorce lawyers at Slovensky Law in Roanoke will explain the process from the beginning.
What is an uncontested divorce in Virginia?
An uncontested divorce means that you and your spouse agree about everything regarding your divorce.
If you and your spouse have any differences in the way you would prefer the marriage to end (be that on spousal support, division of assets, custody or anything else), you will not be able to pursue an uncontested divorce.
Alternatively, if you want NOTHING from your spouse whatsoever, you do not have to agree on the terms of your divorce and MAY be able to have an uncontested divorce IF the other party cannot be located or will not contest the divorce.
Requirements for an uncontested divorce in Virginia
There are a few requirements for uncontested divorces in Virginia:
- If you have children with your spouse, you must be separated for 1 full year before becoming eligible for an uncontested divorce. However, it is possible to complete an uncontested divorce without addressing custody, particularly if you already have a custody order from the court. However, if you and your spouse agree, you should start the process as soon as you agree, so you can have a separation agreement signed and ready to go at the 12-month mark.
- If you do not have children with your spouse, you must be separated for 6 months and have a signed separation agreement that lays lays out the details of the divorce, such as how property will be divided. Our team at Slovensky Law is happy to assist you in drafting a separation agreement if you do not already have one prepared.
Steps to an uncontested divorce in Virginia
Working with our team at Slovensky Law to finalize your uncontested divorce will save you both time and money.
Here’s how the process works:
- If you are eligible for an uncontested divorce, you will receive an engagement agreement and pay Slovensky Law for their services. The representation agreement details what services we will provide to you and the price of those services. If your case becomes more complicated than originally anticipated, you may incur additional fees.
- You will then fill out a questionnaire, which will provide our team of divorce lawyers with the necessary information to draft the divorce documents. If we are helping you with custody as part of the process, we may help you with a tool to customize the custody part of your agreement.
- Next, we will prepare the divorce documents. We usually need a few days, or at least one weekend, to complete the documents. Separation agreements take significantly longer to draft and must be completed before we draft the actual divorce documents. We will work with you to customize this agreement to your unique situation. If you are doing a separation agreement, we will attempt to get that signed by both parties (and we will not prepare the divorce documents until closer to your finalization date).
- Once the documents are prepared, the separation agreement is signed, and you have been separated long enough (see above), we will attempt to get your spouse to waive contesting the divorce. If your spouse signs this form, they waive their right to be served for the divorce.
- If your spouse does not sign the waiver, we will then wait for the court to issue a summons. The court can take anywhere from 1 day to 2 weeks to issue a summons. Then, we will have your spouse served. This process will involve an additional expense.
- Once your spouse has been served or waived service, you will sign an affidavit. The affidavit will state that you and your spouse have been separated for the required amount of time. We usually need a few days to prepare these affidavits. Then, we will send these affidavits to you through an online notarization service. You may also have the affidavits mailed to you, which will add 3 days to 2 weeks of time to your divorce.
- Finally, we send the divorce decree, separation agreement, and all other documents to the court, and we wait for the judge to 1) sign the order or 2) request changes (rare, but happens). The judge may take any amount of time he or she likes to sign the order but ordinarily signs within four weeks.
- Once the judge enters the divorce decree, you are officially divorced.