Getting a Divorce in Virginia

Getting a Divorce

When a couple is getting divorced, there are a number of issues that will need to be resolved. If the couple themselves cannot come to an agreement on certain sticking points, then it will be up to a judge to rule on those issues.
The process itself does not need to be overly complicated. The family attorneys at Curran Moher Weis have compiled key items and strategies regarding Virginia divorces and the overall court process.

How Does Virginia Handle Property Distribution?

Virginia is an “equitable distribution” state, meaning that the law aims to divide property fairly between a divorcing couple, although it doesn’t necessarily mean everything will be split evenly.
When a couple is divorcing, their property is considered marital, separate, or part marital and part separate with a few exceptions. Marital property is considered any property that was acquired by the couple during the marriage. On the other hand, separate property is a property that was acquired before the marriage, any property that was obtained by inheritance or gift from a third party or any property that was acquired after the date of the separation with separate funds.

How is Alimony Determined?

The court considers a number of factors when determining alimony or spousal maintenance:

  • The obligations, needs, and financial resources of the parties;
  • The standard of living during the marriage;
  • The duration of the marriage;
  • The age and physical and mental condition of the parties;
  • The contributions, monetary and nonmonetary, of each party to the well-being of the family;
  • The property interests of the parties, both real and personal, tangible and intangible; and
  • The earning capacity, including the skills, education, and training of the parties and the present employment opportunities for persons possessing such earning capacity.

Virginia is a state where a spouse can receive permanent support, even if both spouses are employed. This depends on the earning discrepancy between both partners.

Uncontested Versus Contested Divorces

Although Virginia allows for no-fault divorce, meaning that neither party has to take the blame for the marriage coming to an end, some couples will elect to file a fault-based divorce where adultery, cruelty, or desertion is involved.
If the couple agrees on all divorce issues, such as property allocation, alimony, and child custody, then they can file for an uncontested divorce. An uncontested divorce is less expensive and time intensive than a contested divorce. You may also be able to avoid the courtroom by electing to have an uncontested divorce.

The Court Process

If you are filing for a divorce in Virginia, you must have been a resident for at least six months. The plaintiff is the person seeking the divorce, and the defendant is the person you are seeking to divorce.
The following procedural steps will take place:

Plaintiff files the complaint.

The complaint is the document that initiates the divorce proceedings. The complaint contains information about the following:

  • You
  • Your spouse
  • Your marriage
  • Grounds for the divorce

The defendant will be served the summons and complaint.

Your spouse will be formally handed the divorce papers by either the sheriff or a private process service. In circumstances when the defendant lives out-of-state, or his/her whereabouts are unknown, he/she will be served by publication. When the service is by publication, notice must be published in a newspaper approved by the court clerk’s office

The defendant has 21 days to file an answer.

The defendant will file an answer that contains the following:

  • Parts the respondent agrees with;
  • Parts the respondent disagrees with; and
  • Parts of which the respondent “lacks sufficient knowledge.”

As the divorce action proceeds, different steps will be taken based on the type of divorce.

A Fairfax Family Attorney Advocating for Your Rights

The family attorneys at Curran Moher Weis know the hardship that comes with divorcing your partner. We are here to answer any questions you may have about the divorce process and to offer comfort. Contact us to schedule your consultation today. We proudly serve Virginia, Maryland, and the District of Columbia.

Get in touch with us

Schedule a consultation with one of our experienced lawyers today by filling out the form below, or call us at (571) 328-5020.

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    Jason handled my very messy divorce. Complicated custody situation, property disputes, police reports, CPS, custody evaluation – just to name a few things that we had to deal with. Jason always had the situation under control. He will never pr...


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    Grant Moher and his firm has a solid background in addressing family law issues that pertain to military families. They are well positioned to help all service members, veterans, and their dependents. I found Grant Moher and his staff to be exceptio...


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    Steven is very tough but also a decent person and works to create the best possible outcome. He guided me through some very difficult and upsetting negotiations to a very good outcome. He is always extremely accessible. He is very honest and does no...


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    I’m thankful to have engaged Nicole at the start of the process of divorce with children. Her advice has continually been thoughtful and precise. Her experience allows her to be pro-active and she has been thorough in explaining all facets of ...