No one enters into a marriage with the intention of one day getting divorced, but it can happen to any couple. Priorities change, difficult circumstances arise, and feelings are lost over the course of a relationship and, for some, that means an end to the marriage. No matter what has led to you wanting to file for divorce in Virginia, it’s important that you understand the process and that you work with a divorce attorney from the beginning. Stephen Bloomquest has helped many families through the difficult legal process of divorce, and he can advise and guide you, as well.
Grounds for Divorce in Virginia
In Virginia, you have the option of filing a “fault” divorce or a “no-fault” divorce. No-fault divorces usually arise out of a mutual agreement to end the marriage, and no blame is placed on either spouse for the failure of the marriage. In a fault divorce, the spouse filing for divorce blames the other for ruining the marriage. Fault divorces are generally more difficult and more expensive, but in some situations, there is no other option. Either way, you must have grounds—or a reason—for divorce that must be proven to the court. Here is a brief look at both types of divorce:
- No-fault divorce. Grounds for a no-fault divorce are fairly simple. If the couple has intentionally lived apart for a year or more, either person may file for a no-fault divorce. If the parties have entered into a formal Separation Agreement and no minor children are involved, a separation period of only six months is required. Fault may still be raised as an issue for matters of property division, spousal support, or child custody.
- Fault divorce. If one spouse has suffered because of the actions of the other spouse, he or she may file for divorce on several possible grounds, including willful desertion or abandonment, cruelty and fear of bodily harm, adultery, or conviction of a felony. In fault divorces, evidence of the spouse’s actions must be presented to the court.
A no-fault divorce that doesn’t involve children and where there is no dispute over the division of property may not require a lawyer. However, in any other situation, you will want a qualified divorce lawyer protecting your interests from the beginning.
When You Need a Family Law Attorney
In any divorce involving fault, you will want to hire an attorney to represent you—whether you are the spouse filing for divorce or the one accused of fault. Even the most amicable divorces will have legal issues that need to be settled, and you will want an attorney representing only your interests if you have any of the following complications:
- Division of property. Virginia provides for the “equitable” distribution of marital property upon the conclusion of a divorce. However, “equitable” does not necessarily mean a 50/50 split. These negotiations can become complicated, but your attorney will fight for the assets that are rightfully yours and for the property you need and deserve.
- Spousal support. The intent of spousal support is to lessen the financial impact of divorce on the party who is less financially independent. However, the process of awarding spousal support has been evolving in Virginia, and your attorney will make sure your interests are represented in the negotiation.
- Child custody. There are a variety of options when it comes to child custody and visitation rights, but the court’s goal is to look out for the best interests of the child. Your attorney will support your wishes when it comes to custody and present your side to the court, if necessary.
These factors can complicate even an uncontested, amicable divorce, and you should not discuss any of them with your ex without an attorney representing you.
Divorce is never easy, and as you go through this difficult time, you will want an advocate on your side who listens to you, respects your wishes, and has the legal experience to guide you through this complicated process. Family law attorney Stephen Bloomquest has represented both men and women in divorces in Midlothian, Richmond, and Chesterfield. When you need someone on your side, call Quest Law PLLC.