Divorce laws vary from state to state, so it’s essential to understand the rules between uncontested divorce vs. contested divorce proceedings where you live before beginning the legal process of dissolving your marriage. There are residency requirements, filing technicalities, and terminology to brush up on at the onset of the process.
The distinctions concerning uncontested, contested, fault-based, and no-fault divorces are particularly important. Understanding the divorce process and how you can file will be helpful moving forward.
Uncontested Divorce vs. Contested Divorce
This guide will assist with understanding some of the legal particulars of family law in Virginia. Remember that this article intends to offer helpful information, not legal advice.
Let’s begin by looking at the difference between contested and uncontested divorces. Uncontested divorces require little to no time spent in court, fewer legal fees, and can cause less of an emotional burden.
However, uncontested divorces are not for all separating couples. This type is only for those who can put their differences aside after they agree to the divorce and come to an agreement on all outstanding issues by way of their divorce attorneys behind closed doors. The settlement resolves affairs such as dividing marital assets and setting up spousal or child support, making it much easier for the judge to grant the divorce.
In Virginia, there are some other qualifications for filing uncontested divorces:
- At least one of the parties must have been a resident of Virginia for at least six months.
- If the divorcing parties have a minor child, they must live separate and apart for a full year. If they do not have a minor child, this separation period drops to six months.
In a contested divorce, the parties cannot reach an amicable agreement and must go to a judge to settle their disputes. Alternatively, if one spouse sues for divorce on grounds — more on that later — this will also prompt a contested divorce. Each contested divorce is unique and takes its path toward a court date in which a judge will decide how to divide the marital property.
No-Fault and Fault-Based Divorce: What You Need to Know
In 2010, New York passed a law allowing no-fault divorces, making it the final state to make such divorces legal. In a no-fault divorce, neither party has to hold the other party responsible for wrongdoing in the cause of the separation. One party can plead for divorce on the grounds of having been separated for the statutory period, with no burden to prove adultery, desertion, cruelty, or the like.
Naturally, the divorcing couple has a significant amount of work to complete to settle the terms of their marital separation agreement. Still, as far as filing for a no-fault divorce, the process is uncomplicated. Once the papers are filed and unopposed, the hard work is over.
Virginia still allows fault-based divorces, in which one partner sues the other on one of five grounds. These grounds are:
- Willful abandonment
- Felony conviction resulting in imprisonment of one year
Unlike other types of divorce, there is no mandatory waiting period between the separation of the partners and filing for divorce. The suing partner, the plaintiff, can file for divorce right away.
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