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The Basics of Virginia Beach Divorce

There is a lot involved in a Virginia Beach divorce, and understanding how the process works will make it much easier for you when you need to make decisions about ending your marriage. Here, we will explain the basics of getting a divorce in Virginia Beach.

Virginia Beach Divorce Law

To file for divorce in Virginia, either you or your spouse must be a state resident for six months. Those in the military who are stationed in Virginia also qualify.

There are several grounds, or reasons, for divorce in Virginia. Either you or your spouse can claim irreconcilable differences, as long as you have been separated for a year, or six months if you don’t have any minor children. This is called a no-fault divorce.

Either one of you can seek a fault-based divorce. In Virginia, grounds for a fault-based divorce include:

  • Adultery, including homosexuality
  • Conviction of a felony after the marriage, with imprisonment for one year
  • Cruelty that causes a reasonable fear of physical harm
  • Willful desertion for one year

Marital property is divided “equitably” in your divorce. This doesn’t mean equally, just fairly. You get to keep any separate property, which can include property you acquired before you got married, and gifts and inheritances you received while you were married.

Marital property can include pensions, profit-sharing or deferred compensation or retirement plans that either spouse during the marriage.

Spousal support, or alimony, isn’t guaranteed. The court will decide temporary or permanent spousal support on a case by case basis.

Child Support & Custody in a Virginia Beach Divorce

If you have minor children, custody, visitation and child support will be a part of your divorce case. In Virginia, the courts will decide custody based on the best interests of the child. Neither parent is presumed to have custody, and the courts will try to arrange for frequent and continuing contact with both parents, when that is appropriate. In a Virginia Beach divorce, the judge could award joint or sole custody.

The courts will also decide child support payments as part of your divorce process.

The Virginia Divorce Process

Once you hire your Virginia Beach divorce attorney, you can begin the process. In Virginia, that starts when you or your spouse files the Complaint for Divorce with the Virginia Beach Circuit Court or other relevant jurisdiction. Your spouse then has a chance to respond.

If you and your spouse can agree on all the major issues, like custody and dividing up your property, your divorce can be finalized without a trial. If that’s not the case in your divorce, the next step may likely be a court hearing where a judge will issue temporary court orders, often for temporary child support, spousal support and visitation.

You and your spouse will then exchange information and documents, in a phase called discovery. Once discovery is done, the trial date for your divorce hearing is set. Custody decisions often take place separately.

Depending on your Virginia Beach divorce, you may have the chance to go into a negotiation or mediation to attempt to amicably solve some of your disagreements.

How long your divorce takes often depends on how much the two of you disagree on the terms of your divorce, either over property, child custody, support or other issues. A contested divorce may take 18 months to two years. An uncontested divorce can take one to two months, once you and your spouse have passed the waiting period.

Once the final hearing for your divorce has been conducted and all the appropriate paperwork submitted and approved by the court, your divorce will be finalized.

You don’t need to have an attorney to assist you through the divorce process, but it’s usually a good idea to consult with divorce lawyers in Virginia Beach before or during the process. Attorneys can explain how divorce works and suggest options you may not have considered. Hiring an attorney doesn’t mean you can’t still have an amicable divorce.

Either way, once you understand the basics of your Virginia Beach divorce, you will be better able to decide when and how to proceed.