Filing a divorce in Virginia can be very complicated. It is best to hire an experienced divorce attorney to ensure that you qualify for a divorce and follow all the procedures required to obtain one. It can also be helpful to understand the general steps involved in a divorce so that you know what to expect.
What Steps Do You Need to Take When Filing for Divorce in Virginia?
In order to file for a divorce in Virginia, you or your spouse must have lived in the state for six months before the divorce is filed. You would file your case in circuit court in the county where you and your spouse last lived or where your spouse currently lives. Here are the steps in a divorce:
- File a complaint. Your first step is to draft the complaint and supporting documents and file them in circuit court. Your paperwork must comply with proper legal formatting and information requirements. You are referred to as the plaintiff, and your spouse is the defendant in the divorce court case. Once your divorce papers are filed, the court clerk will issue a summons.
- Serve the defendant. Your next step is to have the defendant served with the summons and complaint. If he is willing to sign an acknowledging receipt of the items you could mail them to him with the form to sign. Another common way to serve a spouse is to pay a deputy sheriff to serve him personally. If you are having trouble serving your spouse, there are special procedures you may need to follow.
- Discovery. If your case is contested, there will be a period of discovery where you and your spouse will share financial and other information with each other—usually through your attorneys—and collect other evidence to prove your position in the divorce.
- Evidence is taken by deposition. If your divorce is not contested, you would not go through extensive discovery, and evidence would be taken by a deposition that is often done in an attorney’s office.
- Final Decree of Divorce. In a non-contested divorce, you and your spouse would agree to the terms of your divorce. The final Decree of Divorce would be prepared, signed by both parties, and filed with the court along with the deposition.
- Trial. In a contested divorce, there could be pre-trial hearings, hearings on motions filed by the attorneys, and settlement conferences with the judge prior to a trial being scheduled. If you could not come to an agreement with your spouse, your case would be decided at a trial.
- Final Decree of Divorce is signed. In an uncontested divorce, the judge would review the Final Decree of Divorce, and, if it is in the proper form, sign it. After a trial, a divorce judgment based on the judge’s decision would be prepared by the parties and signed by the judge.
If you are planning to file for divorce, call our office or fill out our online form to schedule a free consultation. Our experienced family law attorneys can explain your legal options and how we can help you through this challenging time.