Fairfax Divorce Lawyer
Aggressive Legal Representation for Virginia Divorces
We understand divorce is quite difficult emotionally, and we counsel our clients from the beginning on how important it is to start with clarity of mind in order to effectively move forward and determine how we can help you achieve peace of mind and regain future security with the situation at hand. Because this is not always easy to do when your family’s future is at stake, divorce matters often require the expertise and guidance of a skilled Virginia divorce attorney.
Fault and No-Fault Divorce in Virginia
There are generally two types of divorces in the state of Virginia – fault and no-fault divorces. Below are definitions and the requirements for each:
No Fault Divorce
You can file for a no-fault divorce in Virginia if both you and your spouse believe that the marriage has become irretrievably broken and unrepairable, due to irreconcilable differences and, literally, no one is blaming the other for the breakdown of the marriage.
No-Fault Divorce cases require a SIX-MONTH waiting period IF:
- There are no children under the age of 18 that have been born or adopted into the marriage; and
- The parties have signed a formal agreement that divides the property, assets and debts of the marriage, commonly known as a “Property Settlement Agreement; and
- The parties have maintained separate living arrangements for six months.
No-Fault Divorce cases require a TWELVE-MONTH waiting period IF:
- There are children under the age of 18 that have been born or adopted into the marriage; or
- The parties have not signed a Property Settlement Agreement; and
- The parties have maintained separate living arrangements for twelve months.
Unfortunately, many times what starts as a “no fault” divorce can quickly become contentious and “fault-based” if disagreements arise between the parties regarding matters such as spousal support (alimony), child custody and visitation, or the division of marital property, assets or debts. Consulting a Divorce Attorney in the early stages of a divorce action can help avoid these disagreements before they arise, saving the both parties emotional heartache and considerable financial costs.
If you or your spouse believe the other to be “at fault” for the marriage becoming irretrievably broken, you may file for a “fault-based divorce.” Grounds for divorce under these circumstances include but are not limited to adultery, abandonment and cruelty.
In order to obtain a fault-based divorce in Virginia, you must prove that the other party committed an act recognized under Virginia Law which caused the marriage to irretrievably break down. These acts generally include but are not limited to:
- Adultery: Proving the other spouse engaged in a sexual relationship outside the marriage; or
- Abandonment: Proving that the other spouse has either disappeared or otherwise has unreasonably refused to contribute to the marriage and/or family’s well-being, to include withholding finances and/or affection; or
- Cruelty: Proving that the other spouse has acted in a manner of depraved indifference and/or willfully caused bodily or significant emotional and mental injury;
- If fault grounds can be proven, there is no required waiting period in Virginia to obtain a divorce.
Contested Divorce & Uncontested Divorce
In addition to fault and no-fault divorces, there are what is known as a contested and uncontested divorce.
An uncontested divorce exists when both parties agree on all aspects of the divorce, including the division of marital property, child custody, alimony, and any other matter. These divorces are cost-efficient in terms of dissolving a marriage because they are capable of being resolved quickly.
A contested divorce occurs when both parties do not agree on one or more aspects of the divorce, or even with the divorce itself. Naturally, fault divorces often will become contentious because one party is accusing the other party of doing something “wrong” that effectively ended the marital relationship. However, even uncontested divorces can become contested at any point if both parties disagree on some point related to the divorce including the division of finances, retirement plans, or child-related issues.
Discovery Process for a Contested Divorce
After a contested divorce is filed in Virginia, each party is entitled to “Discovery” in order to prepare for their divorce trial. “Discovery” is a legal process designed to ensure that each party has a fair opportunity to learn about and acquire certain information including:
- Bank records of each party
- Tax Returns
- Assets owned by each party
- Debts owed by each party
- Evidence that supports a party’s claim of “Fault”
- Evidence that supports a party’s demands regarding support, child custody and/or visitation
- And much more.
Through the Discovery process, each party can also demand that the other justify their reasons for wanting to keep certain property or the parties’ children away from the other.
Generally, the discovery process initially allows for each side to issue approximately there is set discovery process for a contested divorce. First, pendente lite orders are issued by a judge, which is in essence, a temporary court order that specifies how matters like child custody or alimony will be handled while the parties await litigation. 30 discovery questions called “Interrogatories” to the other. These questions are designed to reveal the points of contention between the parties along with the areas in which there is agreement. These questions are then followed by requests for the production of documents that support the parties answers to these interrogatories. During this process, it is critical that your lawyer know what questions to ask and how to locate documents and property that may be hidden from you in order to prepare a strong case for trial.
At the NoVa Law Firm, we believe that by preparing an aggressive offense we can help you increase the chances that you will receive everything you are entitled to under the law when the court grants your divorce.
Protecting Your Property, Assets, and Your Future
Many attorneys believe that the most beneficial way to resolve a divorce is through mediation or a mutual agreement. While this approach can certainly reduce the emotional stress of a divorce, it does not necessarily ensure that your property and assets will be protected. Often, the party pushing mediation may be doing so because they want to avoid the discovery process in order to keep assets hidden or cover up an act that may give rise to Fault grounds.
At the NoVa Law Firm, we start preparing for trial from day one in order to ensure that we are ready to pursue the most beneficial outcome for you. A divorce trial is often necessary when clients want to do everything possible to ensure that they obtain or keep what is rightfully theirs after a lengthy marriage because peace of mind and security in the future is their most important goal. We understand the steps that need to be taken in order to protect your financial interests and will go the extra mile to aggressively represent you throughout the divorce process.
Contact the NoVa Law Firm Today for a Free Consultation
When you are involved in a divorce, whether it is contested or uncontested, with or without “Fault”, it is critical that you have someone on your side who not only has an objective view point, but also has a 15-year track record of dedicated, respected and results-oriented commitment to passionately advocating for his clients’ best interests.
Although contentious divorces can be costly, those costs pale in comparison to what clients can lose when they too quickly settle for less than what the law says they are rightfully entitled to. The NoVa Law Firm will defend and protect your interests, your children and your property to ensure you get all that the law allows when the court grants your divorce.
Our attorneys are committed to protecting your rights and privacy during the divorce process, and will give you the information you need and we’ll help you make educated and confident decisions which may affect your family and your future, all along the way.