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Overview of uncontested divorces in Virginia

An uncontested divorce in Virginia might be simpler and less stressful than a contested one, but there are still requirements couples should be aware of when initiating the process. To obtain a divorce or to become legally separated in Virginia, at least one person must live in the commonwealth or have been a domiciliary for a minimum of six months. Service members who have been on duty in Virginia for six months or longer can file as well.

Some divorcing spouses might face unique challenges but many uncontested divorces follow a same basic procedure, which begins with a filing with a family law or domestic relations clerk. The person who files is known as the plaintiff, and the person served with divorce papers is the defendant. People may file for divorce in the county or city that they lived in as a couple. The plaintiff may also file in the area where the defendant lives or in their own county or city if their former partner is not a Virginia resident.

A divorce might be filed citing fault or no fault. To file for fault, the plaintiff must show that their former partner committed adultery, abandoned him or her, or willfully deserted him or her. Cruelty and imprisonment for a year or longer are also grounds for fault. A no-fault divorce may be filed if the couple lived apart for at least a year or a minimum of six months if the couple does not have children and have signed a separation agreement.

In addition to issues of residency and jurisdiction, divorce brings questions of property division, child support and other important matters. An attorney could assist divorcing spouses by answering questions about the process and ensuring that any papers filed with the courts are complete and correct. In cases where a divorce is contested, an attorney could act as a negotiator or advocate court.

Source:, "Virginia Uncontested Divorce", September 13, 2014

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