No-Fault Divorce vs. Uncontested Divorce in Virginia: What’s the Difference?    

By: John Whitbeck


Fault-grounds and no-fault divorce, contested and uncontested divorce. Yes, for someone who goes through the divorce process for the first time in his or her life, all these different types of divorces in Virginia can be confusing. Contrary to popular belief, no-fault divorce and uncontested divorce are not the same.

What is an Uncontested Divorce in Virginia?    

First things first; What is an uncontested divorce, and what makes it different from a no-fault divorce? You are eligible to file for an uncontested divorce when you and your departing spouse agree to the terms of the annulment of your marriage.    

In particular, you and your soon-to-be former spouse must agree on every aspect, such as:    

  • Child custody    
  • Child and visitation    
  • Alimony    
  • Property distribution    
  • Child support    
  • Financial divisions    

An uncontested divorce is when both sides agree to live apart (the waiting period) for six months if you have no children or a year if you share kids and then file for divorce. Needless to say, an uncontested divorce is the most favorite type of divorce for Virginia judges. Essentially, an uncontested divorce means that the judge must simply approve whatever you have agreed to.

A contested divorce is when two spouses disagree on the terms of their separation. The contention could be over any aspect of a divorce, including child custody, property division, alimony, or other issues. In these instances, it’s imperative to be represented by a knowledgeable Virginia divorce attorney who can best help you get the outcome you wish.

What is a No-Fault Divorce?    

Virginia law recognizes that neither spouse has to admit their blame for the dissolution of the marriage. A no-fault divorce is when neither spouse accepts fault or blames their spouse for destroying the marriage and instead gets a divorce based on just the length of separation as in an uncontested divorce.    

A divorce has fault grounds if either spouse accuses the other of the following wrongdoing: 

  • Adultery    
  • Sodomy outside of marriage    
  • Buggery outside of marriage    
  • Cruelty    
  • Desertion    
  • Abandonment    
  • Incarceration for a year

If neither spouse is to blame, the two of you must agree to run out the clock (six months if you have no kids or a year if you have children), file for divorce, and declare that neither party was at fault. This is a no-fault divorce.

Difference Between an Uncontested and No-Fault Divorce    

As you may have guessed, a divorce can be both no-fault and uncontested, just like it can be fault-grounds and undisputed. Another possible combination is a no-fault and contested divorce or a contested, fault-ground divorce.    

An example of a contested fault-grounds divorce would be if one of the spouses committed adultery, and both spouses disagree on the terms of their divorce. An example of a no-fault, uncontested divorce is if both parties agree that it is time to get divorced without any accusations of fault, and both agree on terms.

As you can see, an uncontested divorce is not the same as a no-fault divorce in Virginia. Hiring an experienced Virginia divorce attorney can better help you understand the best way to handle your divorce.    

Going through a divorce for each person is never the same. To learn how our team can help you through yours, contact WhitbeckBennett by calling 800-516-3964 or emailing clientservices@wblaws.com.

To learn more about divorce, visit our Divorce Law page.

Related: Divorce Law

John Whitbeck

John Whitbeck


John C. Whitbeck, Jr. is the founder of WhitbeckBennett. His practice focuses on family law, special education law, and mental health law. He regularly practices in several jurisdictions in the Northern Virginia area. He has also been certified as an expert witness in litigation.


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