Norfolk Divorce Attorney
What Is An Uncontested Divorce?
If the parties have agreed on everything, except how they are going to share the payment on a child’s student loan obligation, that is not an uncontested divorce. If the parties have agreed on everything, except how to split the proceeds from the sale of the marital home, that is not an uncontested divorce. If the parties have agreed on everything except, which one is going to have custody of the family dog, that is not an uncontested divorce. Simply stated, an uncontested divorce is a divorce where the parties have agreed on everything and settled all disputes to their mutual satisfaction, with no exceptions.
Grounds For An Uncontested Divorce
Like any other divorce filing in Virginia, there must be a legally based grounds for filing for an uncontested divorce. Typically, in uncontested divorces, the parties will file on the grounds of living separate and apart for the required period of time. Virginia law states that, without requiring any other ground, a party may file for a divorce after living separate and apart for a period of one year. This requirement must exist at the time the divorce is filed. The parties may not file for the divorce, and then live separate and apart for the one year. In situations where the parties have no minor children in common, and the parties have a written separation agreement, the one year requirement may be reduced to six months.
Additionally, Virginia Code § 20-97 requires that at least one party must be a resident of Virginia for at least six months prior to filing for an uncontested divorce. This does not require the person filing for the uncontested divorce to reside in Virginia. If you live in another state, and your spouse resides in Virginia, and has resided in Virginia for at least six months, you may file for the uncontested divorce in Virginia based on your spouse’s residency.
How to File For An Uncontested Divorce
An uncontested divorce is commenced as any other divorce. Once the requirements for filing have been met, a complaint for divorce may be filed in the circuit court. Virginia law requires the filing to be made in the circuit court of the city or county where the parties last resided as a couple. If no one still lives in that city or county, you may file the complaint for divorce in the circuit court where you reside, or where your spouse resides, or any other city or county in Virginia so long as both parties agree to that venue.
Notifying My Spouse of The Divorce Filing
As with any other divorce filing, you must notify your spouse of the filing of the complaint for divorce. In the vast majority of uncontested divorces, the parties both know of the filing ahead of time, and the non-filing party may simply execute a waiver of service indicating they are aware of and agree with the divorce filing. In those instances where the other party refuses to execute a waiver, or they may not agree to cooperate in the uncontested divorce process, they must be personally served a copy of the divorce complaint and court summons. Service must be performed by the sheriff’s office or some other person not involved with the divorce case, typically a private company which charges a small fee for performing the process service. After being served, you must wait 21 days for your spouse to respond to the complaint, if they choose to do so.
There may be instances where you don’t know where your spouse resides or where they may be personally served notice of the divorce filing. The law requires that you perform “due diligence” to locate them, but if all of your efforts fail, you may serve notice to your spouse by publication. Where to publish the notification is determined by each local circuit court. The process takes several weeks to complete since the notice must run multiple times over the course of a few weeks. A court order must be obtained ordering the publishing company to publish the notice. The publisher will then file an affidavit with the court stating that the notice ran for the required period of time.
Finalizing An Uncontested Divorce
An uncontested divorce is finalized when a judge signs the Final Decree of Divorce. A proposed divorce decree must be filed with the court for review before the judge signs it. There are many requirements that must be included in the language of the divorce decree, including the grounds for divorce, child custody terms, support terms, and some other statutory requirements. Once the divorce decree has been approved, the circuit court will schedule an ore tenus hearing where you will need to appear with a corroborating witness. Your witness may be anyone who has knowledge of your marriage and separation period. The only person it may not be is your spouse. Following this short ore tenus hearing, the judge will sign your divorce decree. In most jurisdictions, the ore tenus hearing may be waived by the filing of affidavits from you and your corroborating witness.
How Long Is The Uncontested Divorce Process?
One of the major benefits to an uncontested divorce, besides they are much less costly than contested divorces, is they may be finalized fairly quickly. In most instances, an uncontested divorce may be finalized in as little as 30 days. In those cases where the other party must be served, or you must go through the service by publication process, the matter will take much longer.
Do I Need An Attorney For An Uncontested Divorce?
Some people find the uncontested divorce process easy to navigate and have no issues with filing the divorce and completing the divorce process. Most people, however, have difficulties with the paperwork and documents that must be filed, and the procedures that must be followed. Filing paperwork incorrectly or not following the proper procedures may result in you incurring unnecessary court fees, your divorce or separation being unnecessarily delayed, or the court may dismiss your filing forcing you to start all over.
Garrett Law Group, PLC is ready to help you file your uncontested divorce. We offer reasonable flat fees, and in most circumstances will complete the uncontested divorce in less than 30 days with no court appearances required by either party. Contact our office today to get started.
Reach us by phone (757) 422-4646 or click here to contact us. We are here to help.