An Overview of Uncontested Divorces
Divorce is the legal termination of a marriage, a process that can be emotionally, physically, and financially challenging for both parties. If you and your partner want a quick and amicable separation, an “uncontested divorce” may be the right choice.
You might have questions about the differences between uncontested and contested divorces, the steps involved in an uncontested divorce, eligibility and residency requirements, the necessary paperwork for filing an uncontested divorce in Virginia, court fees, and the associated costs.
This comprehensive guide by Ashwell & Ashwell, PLLC, aims to provide all the information to help you navigate the uncontested divorce process in Virginia.
What Is an Uncontested Divorce?
An uncontested divorce is a no-fault divorce where both parties mutually agree on the terms. In this case, the divorce is not contested, and there is no need for court intervention to resolve matters like property division, child custody, and alimony. This type of divorce is particularly sought by couples looking to end their marriage amicably, avoiding lengthy legal battles or disputes over marital property.
If you’re unsure whether to opt for an uncontested or contested divorce, it might be a good idea to consider an uncontested divorce. It not only provides a more peaceful and efficient way to terminate a marriage but also saves time and money. By avoiding the complexities of a contested divorce, couples can focus on moving forward and reducing emotional stress.
How Long Does an Uncontested Divorce Take?
Uncontested divorces are efficient and quickly resolved. When a couple reaches an agreement on all issues, there is no need for a court hearing or prolonged back-and-forth between attorneys or court hearings. Many uncontested divorces can be finalized within weeks, provided the parties have met the required separation periods stipulated by law.
For couples with minor children, the legally required separation period is one year. For couples without minor children who have signed a Separation and Property Settlement Agreement, the period is six months.
After all necessary legal paperwork has been signed, notarized, and filed with the court, the processing and review period typically takes four to six weeks. During this time, a judge will review the case and sign the Final Order of Divorce.
Uncontested divorces provide a prompt resolution by simplifying the process and eliminating unnecessary delays, all while ensuring compliance with legal requirements. This streamlined approach ensures efficiency without compromising on the necessary steps.
How Much Does an Uncontested Divorce Cost?
In most cases, an uncontested divorce is far more affordable than a contested one. However, some court costs are still involved, like filing fees and serving the necessary documents to your spouse. If you decide to handle everything independently, it could cost up to $200.
Obtaining legal assistance, however, will result in higher legal fees as well as court costs. The cost of hiring an attorney, however, outweighs the possible consequences of not seeking legal assistance.
Having a lawyer by your side ensures a smooth and hassle-free legal process, reducing the chances of costly mistakes or delays. By hiring divorce Lawyers in Warrenton, VA, you can ensure that your documents are error-free, avoiding delays and minimizing filing fees.
Qualifications for Uncontested Divorce in Virginia
Filing an uncontested divorce in Virginia requires fulfilling three fundamental criteria:
- Establishing state residency
- Reaching a mutual accord on the grounds for divorce
- Finding common ground on the issues pertinent to your case
Before a divorce complaint can be filed in Virginia, at least one spouse must have resided in the state for at least six months. This is a prerequisite per Va. Code § 20-97 (2022).
Unlike other states, Virginia requires couples to live apart without engaging in sexual relations for a specified period before they can qualify for a divorce. If the couple does not have minor children and both parties agree to the divorce, this period is one year. If the couple has minor children, the period is six months.
Agreement to Divorce Settlement Terms
Before proceeding with an uncontested divorce, you and your spouse must agree on all aspects of your case. This involves addressing multiple issues like property division, debt allocation, spousal support determination, and matters related to child support, custody, and visitation.
When couples face challenges in finding common ground on divorce matters or other issues, mediation can be a helpful tool for discovering mutually beneficial solutions. A skilled mediator, knowledgeable in divorce and family law, can help document any agreements made during the process.
How Is Child Custody Determined in an Uncontested Divorce?
In an uncontested divorce, both spouses must agree on every aspect of the divorce, particularly child custody matters. You must agree on physical custody arrangements, legal custody, visitation rights, shared custody schedules, and child support payments.
If you and your spouse cannot find common ground on any issue, an uncontested divorce may not be possible. However, there are alternatives to consider before going to court. As suggested earlier, mediation or arbitration can help resolve differences, and if an agreement is reached through these methods, an uncontested divorce can still proceed. If not, presenting your case to a judge becomes necessary.
Do I Need an Attorney for an Uncontested Divorce in Virginia?
While not obligatory, having a divorce attorney by your side while filing an uncontested divorce in Virginia can be advantageous. We can ensure that all the necessary steps are followed carefully, paperwork is accurately filed, and any unexpected issues are avoided.
In most cases, uncontested divorces are easier than traditional ones, but they can get complicated, especially when there are children and property involved. In order to ensure a fair and equitable settlement, it is important to consult an attorney before rushing through a divorce without legal guidance.
Ashwell & Ashwell, PLLC is a well-known law firm in Warrenton, VA. We have extensive experience family law and can help you with your divorce.
Our team of skilled attorneys is dedicated to providing you with tailored legal services and representation. Our primary objective is to ensure a smooth and efficient process while protecting your rights and best interests.
Contact us today for an initial consultation, and let us demonstrate how we can provide the essential support you need for filing for a Virginia uncontested divorce.