The 4 Ways to Handle a Virginia Divorce [and 2 Other Divorce FAQs]

Q1: What options do you have to resolve your Virginia divorce?

1. Uncontested divorce. This is the simplest option. You and your spouse work with your respective attorneys to have them create the legal documents you need to separate and then file them in a timely manner. These documents usually include a “property settlement agreement,” which is essentially a contract between you and your spouse that resolves all matters related to your divorce.

2. Mediation. This process is an alternative dispute resolution method. You and your attorneys will work together with a neutral third party, the mediator, to establish terms for child support and alimony, divide up the marital estate, and resolve other issues. The mediator does not decide who’s right and who’s wrong but rather serves as a catalyst for negotiation by clarifying needs, ensuring smooth communication and inventing options to bring the parties together.

3. Collaborative divorce. This is a different alternative dispute resolution strategy. Like mediation, it’s a voluntary process designed to bring parties together in agreement, so they can avoid a costly, lengthy litigation. A team of people, including attorneys trained in collaborative law, financial advisors, psychologists and coaches, works with the couple to resolve differences and hammer out agreements. If this process fails, and the couple goes to litigation, both parties need to retain new attorneys to go to court.

4. Litigation. Not every divorce can be settled easily or simply. The couple may choose to let the court intervene and make decisions in a process known as litigation. The family law attorneys who represent you and your spouse will need to make formal legal arguments to the court, which then clarifies what needs to be done to resolve disputes and finalize the divorce.

Q2: Do you have to live in Virginia to file for a divorce in the state?

The answer is yes, with caveats. Either you or your spouse needs to have been a resident of Virginia for at least six months, if you want to file for divorce in the state.

The rules are slightly more complex for members of the armed services. If you have been stationed in Virginia for six months — or if you lived here for six months before being deployed overseas — you are allowed to file for divorce in the state.  Exceptions could exist for you if you are working overseas for the Foreign Service too.

Q3: What does the concept of “separation” mean? Can you be separated and live together?

Separation is the process of splitting up prior to a divorce.

In general, separation is physical as well as emotional. One (or both) of the spouses usually moves out of the primary residence. But the couple can remain living together physically yet be legally separated. A special document, called a “separation agreement,” stipulates how the arrangement should work with respect to tax payments, child visitation, property division, and insurance. These agreements are not required, but working with your family law attorney to create one can help add structure to an uncertain situation. Debts and assets that you and your spouse accumulate after a legal separation are handled differently during the divorce and are usually classified as separate assets or obligations rather than marital, but there are some exceptions.

If you need assistance now with your Fairfax Virginia divorce, call our team at DiPietro Family Law Group, PLLC right now for a consultation at (703) 370-5555.

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