Most people do not enter into divorce proceedings lightly, as it is a serious legal proceeding that has life-altering effects on the parties involved. However, you may not realize that divorce does not need to be a source of extreme conflict or even require any time in court. Every day in this country, qualified divorce attorneys help couples complete uncontested divorces. Below, you can learn more about the process and meaning of an uncontested divorce in Virginia.

Uncontested Divorces and Contested Divorces

Here are some terms you will need to understand if you are getting divorced in Virginia.

Uncontested Divorces

This article deals primarily with the meaning of an uncontested divorce, which is available for couples who can set aside their differences and come to agreements about separating their marital property, arranging for custody, visitation, child support, and negotiating spousal support without the intervention of the court. This type of divorce is classified as a “no-fault” divorce because neither party needs to claim that the other party did anything wrong to cause the separation. The two can merely cite irreconcilable differences and proceed with the separation.

To complete this process, the two spouses must complete a separation agreement, sometimes called a “property settlement agreement” or a “marital settlement agreement,” which details the custody and support arrangements and the disbursement of all of the shared marital assets.

Then, they will file unopposed for divorce on “no-fault grounds” based upon having a separation agreement and having been separated for the statutory timeframe in Virginia circuit court. This outcome is an uncontested divorce.

Contested Divorces

Contested divorces, by contrast, are necessary when the two parties dispute the separation of the marital assets or cannot agree on child custody and visitation or child or spousal support. They also occur when one spouse sues for divorce “on fault grounds.” The five fault grounds for divorce in Virginia are:

  • Adultery
  • Abandonment
  • Cruelty
  • Willful desertion
  • Conviction of a felony resulting in jail time

The plaintiff in a contested divorce will have to prove to the court that one or more of these conditions occurred and prompted the separation, which can be a higher bar to clear than may seem apparent at first. At any rate, a contested divorce certainly demands more attorney services and requires more court appearances than an uncontested one.

Eligibility and Benefits

If a couple has reached a written separation agreement resolving all aspects of their divorce, they have cleared the most difficult hurdle of the divorce proceedings. From this point on, the remaining tasks are mostly just paperwork and technical issues that need careful attention and professional handling.

Separation Requirements for Uncontested Divorces

In Virginia, couples wishing to be eligible to file an uncontested divorce must meet specific separation requirements. If they do not have children, they must have lived separately for at least six months, with no period of cohabitation during that time. If the two partners share a minor child, this separation must last 12 months.

Benefits of Uncontested Divorces

  • They are efficient. Divorcing couples often choose uncontested divorces because they require the fewest filings and the least amount of time to complete the process. Assuming the couple has already lived separately for the six or twelve-month period preceding the divorce, as is common, it’s the quickest way to do it.
  • They are cost-effective. It isn’t possible to estimate how much any particular divorce will cost. However, an uncontested divorce will almost always save you on the number of hours paid, unlike a contested divorce.
  • They allow for an amicable closure. Uncontested divorces settle affairs behind closed doors, which spares the family stress and publicity. This arrangement becomes especially valuable when the divorce involves families with minor children.
  • They spare the family court exposure. For some, this final point is the most important. In an uncontested divorce, you often never have to step inside a courtroom.
Contact Us Today

If you are considering getting divorced, contact WhitbeckBennet by calling 800-516-3964 or emailing clientservices@wblaws.com. Our attorneys are well-versed in all aspects of Virginia divorce law and will be able to give you the guidance you need to see the process through. Contact us here to start the process today.