Ask your friends and family for attorney recommendations. Ask them about any experiences they may have had, and ask for the absolute truth. Search the internet for reputable divorce lawyers. Consider using your state bar's website; public websites like LawHelp.
Check online reviews, which are often written by past clients who have either had positive or negative experiences. These online reviews can be very helpful and honest, so do some internet searches to try and learn about lawyers you are considering.
6 Myths About Separation and Divorce in Virginia - Fairfax Virginia Family Lawyers
Make a decision. Once you have researched family law attorneys and have some ideas, narrow down your list and contact your top choices. Ask your top choices for a consultation so you have an opportunity to explain the situation you are in and the services you need. A consultation will also give you an opportunity to determine how you think you would work with the attorney.
After you have met with attorneys and researched their background and expertise, you should make a final decision on who you will hire. Choose an attorney that makes you feel comfortable, that seems to know how to handle your case, and who feels confident that they can represent you in an effective manner. Avoid bad attorneys. While there are many attorneys in the world, not all of them are particularly good. Avoid hiring an attorney who: Solicits you as opposed to the other way around; Pressures you into making a hiring decision quickly; Refuses to tell you about their background and credentials; and Suggests that they handle the case in an unethical manner.
Consider representing yourself. If you do not feel comfortable hiring an attorney, do not have the funds available to do so, or if you and your spouse agree about the divorce, you may want to consider representing yourself throughout the process. While this is certainly possible, if you have the means to hire an attorney, you should strongly consider doing so.
An attorney has a unique set of skills that can help you navigate the judicial system and can help you get want you want out of the divorce process. If you end up representing yourself, you can always ask an attorney to review certain documents or give you limited advice. Meet the residency requirements. Before you can divorce in Virginia, at least one of the parties has to have lived in the state for at least six full months before filing. In the complaint, you will be swearing, under penalty of perjury that you meet this requirement and may be required to prove it in court.
The easiest way to prove your residency in a state is to use your driver's license or state-issued identification card and voter registration. If you are member of the armed forces and have been stationed outside of Virginia, but resided in Virginia for at least six months before deployment, you can used your prior residency to qualify to divorce in Virginia. Establish separate addresses. The same documents that can be used to establish residency in the state can also be used to establish separation. Both spouses need a separate address and be prepared to prove it to the court.
Living in different sections of the marital residence will not count toward your separation waiting period.
Valid grounds to get divorce in Virginia
The most common grounds for divorce in Virginia is separation, often called a no-fault divorce. The sooner you are no longer living together, the sooner the court can finalize your divorce. If you do not have children under the age of 18, you must be living "separate and apart" for a minimum of six calendar months. If you have minor children, you must be living "separate and apart" for a minimum of one calendar year. Create a separation agreement. This document can be as simple or complicated as it needs to be depending on the property owned by the couple.
If there are no children, the agreement needs to divide the marital property and deal with the marital debt. The legal standard is equitable distribution. If one party is going to contribute financially to the other, it should be spelled out in writing. This agreement can be changed in the final divorce. Right now, the agreement is to get you through the separation period. Virginia allows for unbundled legal services, meaning you can hire an attorney to take your notes and draft a separation agreement for both parties to sign.
The attorney can only give general legal advice on form and content. He does not represent either party. Create a temporary child custody agreement.
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If you have young children, you need to draft an agreement, with the help of an attorney if necessary, saying where your children will live, a schedule for visits and holidays, and payment of temporary support. The state provides an online calculator to estimate child support during the separation period.
Myth # 1: “If we can’t agree on everything, we have to go to court.”
The court expects both parents to contribute to the financial, physical, and emotional support of their children. Establishing a pattern of communication and cooperation during the separation period is likely going to mean less judicial scrutiny and interference in your proposed custody and visitation agreements. Establish grounds for your divorce.
If you don't want to wait six to twelve months to finalize your divorce, you can file immediately based on certain grounds for divorce spelled out in Virginia law. Sodomy includes sex acts other than intercourse and buggery generally means having sexual intercourse with an animal. To qualify as grounds for divorce, the acts must have been committed outside the bonds of the marriage and without the knowledge, consent, or participation of the spouse. Adultery is still a critical issue in Virginia because it is the one reason for divorce that can bar a spouse from receiving alimony.
An eye-witness is not required, but testimony must be corroborated. A party may obtain a divorce on the grounds that the other party was convicted of a felony after the date of marriage and sentenced for a period of a year or more. When choosing your grounds for divorce, be aware that certain defenses may be available to a spouse accused of adultery, sodomy, buggery, or conviction of a felony, such as that the other spouse willfully cohabited with him or her after discovering the adultery, sodomy, or buggery or after the convicted party was released from prison.
Document the marital property. Contested, fault-based divorces can become very contentious. To avoid one party hiding, squandering, or destroying marital property, you should assemble supporting documents and photographs before you file. Consult a family law attorney. The procedures to prevail in a contested fault-based divorce are complicated and open to counter-claims and allegations, both true and unfounded. If you have children, their custody and well-being can become a point of argument and contention.
Virginia Divorce Laws
Before you start down a path that you can't change, talk with a good family law attorney about your rights and responsibilities. Choose the type of divorce you want. Virginia has two different types of divorce under the law. The first is akin to a legal separation in other states, the second is the tradition dissolution of the marriage contract. There is no waiting period for filing this action, but there must be a clear showing of desertion and cruelty.
The separation cannot be mutual. The lack of mutuality requirement is what separates this type of divorce from a legal separation. Draw up a petition for divorce.
The Basics of Virginia Beach Divorce
You will need to file for either type of divorce in the county where you or your spouse lives. Because of the different types of divorce and the grounds for divorce in Virginia, the style of the divorce petition can be complicated. You have several options.
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For an uncontested divorce based on separation of 6 months for childless couples and 12 months for couples with children, you can use the divorce petition generator from Legal Aid of Virginia. These forms have been created and vetted by lawyers familiar with the laws of Virginia. Some courts have fill-in-the-blanks form packages for sale. However, these packages will likely be for uncontested divorces based on separation.