The idea of parting from your spouse can be painful, even if you know that divorce is the best course of action for both of you. At the Law Office of Steven D. Barnette, P.C., our experienced divorce lawyer can make sure that you have the representation and legal counsel you need when making a life decision as big as divorce. To learn more about filing for a divorce and the divorce process in Virginia, please call our law firm today.
Divorce in Virginia – The Basics
Probably the first thing that you should know about getting divorced in Virginia is that the state recognizes two types of divorce: Divorce from bed and board and divorce from the bond of matrimony.
Divorce from bed and board
A divorce from bed and board is more of a legal separation than it is an actual divorce. As described by the Virginia State Bar, when a couple has a divorce from bed and board, the divorce is only partial or qualified – they are legally separated, but neither is legally permitted to remarry. There are only two grounds for a divorce from bed and board in our state–
- Willful desertion or abandonment, which occurs when one party to the marriage deserting the other; willful separation does not qualify as desertion or abandonment. If a party is deserted, they can file a petition for divorce from bed and board immediately after the separation and, if the abandonment/desertion continues for more than one year then the parties may petition for a divorce from the bond of matrimony.
- Cruelty and reasonable apprehension of bodily harm. If one spouse is a victim of the other’s cruelty to the point where they have suffered or are likely to suffer bodily harm and continued living together is unsafe, then they may separate and immediately file a petition for divorce from bed and board. Like willful desertion or abandonment, after one year of separation has elapsed, grounds will exist for a formal, complete divorce.
Divorce from the bond of matrimony
Unlike divorce from bed and board, divorce from the bond of matrimony is a full divorce that is complete and absolute. There are three grounds for divorce from the bonds of matrimony–which will hereby just be referred to as “divorce”–in Virginia. The most common of these grounds is separation – the “no-fault” grounds for divorce in our state. In order to get a divorce on no-fault grounds, a couple will merely need to prove that they have lived continuously separate and apart without any cohabitation. What’s more, this time can be reduced from one year to only six months if the couple does not have any children and the parties are in agreement about the details of the divorce settlement.
In addition to no-fault grounds, there are two fault-based grounds for divorce, too. Pursuing a divorce based on the other’s fault may be advantageous in some cases, but it’s best to speak to an attorney first. The grounds for a fault-based divorce are adultery, sodomy, or buggery or conviction or a felony.
Issues to Resolve in a Divorce
Before your divorce can be finalized, you and your spouse must come to an agreement about a few important issues first. If you cannot reach an agreement on your own, you will need to go to court and have a judge make a determination in your case. Issues to resolve in a divorce case include:
- Division of property. Couples who are divorcing are obligated to develop a property division agreement that is equitable. The equitable division requirement pertains to both marital property and marital debts; separate property, which is property that was owned by one party prior to the marriage or was acquired by one party by gift or inheritance, is not subject to division.
- Spousal support. Spousal support is designed to help a financially dependent party in a marriage continue to support themselves and provide for their basic needs and accustomed lifestyle after the divorce has been finalized.
- Child custody and support. If a divorcing couple has shared children, they must create a parenting plan before the divorce can be finalized. If parents cannot make a decision, they will need to turn to the court, which will be responsible for issuing a decision that is in the best interests of the child. Once a parenting plan and parenting time have been decided, then the court will issue a decision about child support requirements (both parents have an obligation to support their child financially).
Why You Should Work with a Qualified Divorce Lawyer
When you are getting a divorce you may feel overwhelmed, defeated, and eager to settle the case as quickly as possible – this may result in you failing to hire a lawyer in an attempt to settle the divorce without contention. While our lawyers understand this sentiment, working with an attorney is one of the most necessary steps you can take. When you are getting a divorce, your future is on the line. The outcome of your divorce settlement could significantly impact your finances, your living situation, your relationship with your child, and more. You need an advocate on your side who will work hard to ensure that your best interests are protected.
Call the Law Office of Steven D. Barnette, P.C. Today
If you are getting a divorce, working with an attorney is a must. At the Law Office of Steven D. Barnette, P.C., we know what you are going through and we want to help. We can provide you with the level of services you need, whether you need us to handle all elements of your divorce, just review your settlement, or help with specific aspects.
To learn more about the divorce process and our law firm and reputation, please reach out to us by phone or online at your convenience. Our Virginia divorce lawyer is here to serve you.