Uncontested Divorce in Virginia

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Are you willing to go for a divorce in Virginia? Before taking the final decision, you should know the details of the various types of divorce processes in Virginia. For example, you should be aware of Annulment, Limited Divorce and Absolute Divorce in the state. Once you identify the nature of your case, you have to decide whether you want to fight the case in a contested or uncontested way. Generally, separating couples go for contested divorce if they have major issues of property, alimony, child custody, child support etc. On the other hand, there are many spouses who can resolve matters amongst themselves, reach a mutual settlement and thus apply for an uncontested process. An uncontested divorce in Virginia can prove profitable to you in the long run.

If you feel that you can comfortably make decisions along with your partner, an uncontested divorce is truly the best decision. Here follows a complete overview of this process prevalent in Virginia.

General Information

  • The Plaintiff is the divorcing partner filing the action
  • The Defendant is the spouse who will provide the response
  • The divorce action is filed in the Family court, Juvenile or Domestic Relations court or Circuit Court

Residency requirements of Uncontested Divorce in Virginia

In order to apply for a divorce in this state, one of the divorcing partners must be an actual bona fide resident as well as a domicile of the Commonwealth for minimum 6 months, before the complaint has been filed. Military persons on duty who have resided in the Commonwealth for minimum 6 months are considered as residents of this state.

Venue for filing the Divorce

The venue for filing the action is selected as follows -

  • The city or county where the divorcing partners last resided together
  • Depending on the option of the plaintiff, one of the following is selected -
    • If the Defendant is not a resident of this state, then the city or county where the Plaintiff resides is chosen
    • If the Defendant is a resident of this state, then the city or county where the Defendant resides is selected

Grounds for Uncontested Divorce in Virginia

No-fault grounds

  • Residing apart and separate for 6 months, if the divorcing partners have entered a separation agreement and there are no children
  • Residing apart and separate in the absence of cohabitation for 1 year

Fault grounds

  • Willful desertion
  • Cruelty
  • Conviction and imprisonment for 1 year
  • Abandonment
  • Adultery (inclusive of homosexual acts)

Divorce a mensa et thoro (from bed and board or a legal separation) grounds

  • Cruelty
  • Desertion or abandonment
  • Reasonable fear of bodily harm

These grounds for mensa et thoro divorce are completely different from a divorce that happens to break the matrimony bonds.

Procedures of Uncontested Divorce in Virginia

The process of an uncontested divorce begins when the Plaintiff files a Bill of Complaint for divorce. The Defendant files an Answer to the Complaint, in case, they agrees with the action of the Plaintiff. In this way, the Defendant can accept personal jurisdiction of the court.

If the Defendant does not file an Answer, a copy of the Complaint and the Summons are served to the Defendant. Now, the Defendant may answer the Complaint and file an Acceptance / Waiver form. If these two things are acknowledged, the action can proceed along the uncontested path.

Generally the Service is performed by any adult other than the Plaintiff. If it is done by a competent person above 18 or by a professional process server, then the Affidavit of Service is returned. If the Sheriff performs the service, he has to file a Return of Service.

Divorce Procedures related in case of missing spouse

The state laws define that a 'diligent search' is required in case any separating partner cannot be located or not found. Once such a search is made, the Plaintiff may serve the other spouse by publication. For this an Affidavit for Service by Publication is filed by the Plaintiff. Once the court receives it, the Plaintiff has to prepare an Order for Publication.

It is found that the two most important issues in an uncontested divorce are distribution of property and children custody or support. It is a tough task for the divorcing parents to reach an agreement regarding child custody, child support and visitation. When a consensus is reached between the parents regarding the above-mentioned issues, the remaining topics are somewhat less challenging. So it is advisable that the separating spouses must focus on these issues before filing for an uncontested divorce in Virginia.

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