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DIY Divorce Guide

Overview of the Virginia Divorce Process

Complete divorce guide with state requirements and laws.
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Virginia Online Divorce Basics This is an overview of the Virginia divorce process. Each state has its own requirements, laws, and documentation, so we decided to gather it all in one location to make it easy and quick for you to find the information you need before, during and after your divorce.
Divorce in Virginia Made Easy
    • Time Frame: Virginia does not have a divorce waiting period. In an uncontested divorce, the spouses may avoid going to court by filing a request to have the case finalized by affidavit, rather than a court hearing.
    • Where to File: Circuit Court, Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court, or Family Court. "Virginia: In the _________ Court of ____________."
    • State Statutes: Code of Virginia; Title 20.
    • Name of Action: Complaint for Divorce.
    • Name of Parties: Plaintiff, who is the filing spouse, and defendant, the spouse who answers the Complaint for Divorce.
    • No-Fault or Fault and No-Fault Only: Both no-fault and fault permitted.
    • Primary Documents Filed: Compliant for Divorce and Decree of Divorce.
    • Physical Separation Required: Yes, for no-fault.
    • Separation Time to File: Yes, for no-fault.
    • Legal Separation Permitted: Yes.
    • Grounds: No-fault, which means living separate and apart without any cohabitation and without interruption for one year when the spouses have children, or living separately and apart without cohabitation and without interruption for six months when they do not; fault, which includes adultery or sodomy, imprisonment for more than one year; cruelty, willfully desertion.
    • Residency Requirement: One of the parties must be a resident of Virginia for at least six months before the filing for divorce. The action may be filed where the spouses last lived together, or if the plaintiff desires, in the county or city where the defendant resides, or if the defendant resides outside of Virginia, the county or city where the plaintiff resides.
    • Mediation Required: No legal provisions exist in Virginia for divorce mediation.
    • Counseling Required: There is no mandatory counseling in Virginia.
    • Parenting Classes: Required only in a contested divorce with minor children involved. The court may require the parents to attend a parent education seminar or program in uncontested cases only if the court finds good cause. The seminar or other program is a minimum of four hours and deals with the effects of separation or divorce on children, parenting responsibilities, options for conflict resolution and financial responsibilities. Parent education providers for circuit court cases can be found at the Clerks Office. The fee charged per party for participation in such program is based on the party's ability to pay; however, no fee in excess of $50 may be charged. The family code statue relating to the parenting class is Virginia 16.1-278.15.
    • Filing Fee: $100-$200. (Form for Waiving Filing Fees for Virginia)
    • Where to File for Child Support: The Division of Child Support Enforcement (DCSE) of the Department of Social Services locates noncustodial parents, establishes paternity and collects late child support.
    • Child Support Guidelines Model: Virginia uses the Income Shares Model, which estimates the amount of support that would have been available if the marriage had not failed. This estimated amount is then divided proportionally to the parents according to each parent's income.
If the parents can not agree on a reasonable amount of child support, the Virginia courts calculate it by determining the "adjusted incomes" of each parent. This adjusted income may include deductions of alimony/spousal support and child support for children of other child support orders (for example from a previous marriage or relationship) and additions to the recipient of alimony as well as credit for payroll deductions and health care premiums. Each adjusted income is divided into the sum of both adjusted incomes, yielding a percentage of adjusted income. The percentage is then applied and often times the noncustodial parent pays a greater portion of the child support especially if he or she has a higher income than the custodial parent; the parent with the smaller percentage receives the difference from the parent with the larger percentage. Divorce and child support are described in the Code of Virginia; Title 20, §§ 20-107.2, 20-108.1, and 20-108.2.
    • Property Division: Virginia is an equitable distribution state. It is also a dual classification state,
    • Appreciation of Separate Property: The appreciation of separate property is separate.
    • Attendance at Hearing: Maybe. A party may be required to attend an Ore Tenus hearing or submit a deposition in lieu of a hearing.
    • Fault Considered in Property Division: Yes.
    • Waiting period after Divorce for Remarriage: None.
    • Ways to Serve Spouse: In an uncontested divorce, the defendant waives service by signing an acceptance/waiver of service of process. Otherwise, personal service is the first form of service that must be attempted.
    • Divorce Records: The Virginia Division of Vital Records.
You can get copies of divorce records from the Virginia Division of Vital Records dating back to 1918. Contact the Virginia Division of Vital Records at 804-662-6200 for more information. You must provide proper identification when requesting vital records, this includes divorce. There are several ways to request vital statistic records from the Virginia Vital Records Division including in person, by mail, or online. Vital statistic records are not copies of your final Decree of Divorce . If you need a copy of the your Decree of Divorce, you contact the court in the county or city where you filed and finalized your divorce. It is your responsibility to provide the required vital statistic information to the Commonwealth to be recorded once your divorce is final. Often a final Decree of Divorce will not be granted by the court until this is done.


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