Frequently Asked Questions About Virginia Divorce Procedures

By | November 9, 2011
fairfax divorce attorney

What is the legal divorce process like?

Some divorces are simple and can be handled with a minimal amount of court involvement.  Other divorces, however, are more complicated and take many different courses.   The following is a basic outline of the divorce process.


  • One spouse contacts a lawyer, who prepares a complaint setting forth the grounds of divorce.
  • The complaint is filed with the court and served on the other spouse, together with a summons that requires the spouse to      file a formal response.
  • The spouse receiving the complaint must respond within the time limit prescribed.
  • The parties, through their attorneys, may engage in “discovery,” which is a process where the attorneys exchange written questions and requests for documents in an effort to gather the information necessary to address the issues raised in the divorce.  In addition to Interrogatories, Requests for Production of Documents, and Requests for Admissions, discovery may also include the taking a depositions and/or issuance of subpoenas.
  • At any time, the parties may attempt to reach a settlement.  That effort may be initiated voluntarily or facilitated by the parties’ lawyers or a neutral third party, such as a mediator.
  • If a settlement is reached, a written agreement can be executed and submitted to the court.
  • If the judge approves the agreement, he or she will issue a divorce decree that includes the terms of the parties’ agreement.  If the judge does not approve the agreement or if no agreement can be reached, the case will go to trial.
  • At trial, the attorneys will present evidence and arguments.  The judge will hear the evidence and argument, rule on the matters presented and issue an order.


What are the grounds for divorce in Virginia?

Virginia recognizes a number of grounds for divorce.  There are “no fault” grounds and “fault grounds.”

There are two “no fault”grounds for divorce:  (i)  a six-month separation and signed property settlement agreement where the parties have no minor children; or (ii) a twelve months separation where the parties have minor children.

There are three primary “fault” grounds for divorce: (i) adultery; (ii) cruelty; and (iii) desertion/abandonment.


Do You handle both No Fault and Fault-Based Divorce?



How long do I have to live in Virginia before I can file a divorce action?

To file for divorce either you or your spouse must be a resident and domiciliary of the Commonwealth of Virginia for at least six (6) months immediately preceding the filing of the Complaint.


Why is the date of separation important?

The date of separation is important for a number of reasons.  First, in “no fault” divorces, you must separate for the requisite time
period to qualify for a divorce.  Second, often money and possessions acquired after the date of separation by one spouse may be considered that spouse’s separate property.


How is the date of separation determined?

The date of separation is determined by the date either party separates from the other with the intent and for the purpose of obtaining a divorce.  Often, that date coincides with the date one spouse vacates the marital home.  However, the parties may participate in an in-house separation, provided they make certain efforts to live separate and apart within that home.


How do I find out about my spouse’s assets?

Sometimes, it is difficult for a spouse to identify all of the assets that may be subject to valuation and division.  A lawyer can seek out this information using the “discovery” process.  Your lawyer has a number of tools in that process.  For example, your lawyer can file Interrogatories, which are formal written questions that your spouse must answer in writing under oath.  Your lawyer can also file Requests for Production of Documents (seeking the production of necessary documents) and Requests for Admissions (seeking admissions as to certain facts of your case).  Additionally, your lawyer can file subpoenas to require third-parties to produce documents or appear to be question during a deposition.  Your lawyer can also depose your spouse.


What terms should be included in a separation agreement?

Property Settlement Agreements should address and resolve all of the rights and obligations arising from your marriage to one another.  Naturally, the terms of such agreements will vary, but the following items are typically addressed:

  • Custody of the children;
  • Visitation with the children;
  • Child support;
  • Alimony or spousal support;
  • Property and debt division;
  • Insurance (medical, dental and life); and
  • Income taxes 

Naturally, many other items are often addressed.  Because property settlement agreements are important contracts between the  parties, it is highly recommended that you consult with an attorney prior to executing such an agreement.

If you’ve got questions about the information above, please feel free to drop me a line.  Jason A. Weis, Esquire – Curran Moher Weis P.C. – – 10300 Eaton Place, Suite 520, Fairfax, VA 22030 – 571-328-5020.


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