Virginia law requires either a period of separation as proscribed by statute or fault grounds to obtain a divorce.
Property, custody and support issues must be resolved before or at the final divorce hearing.
If parties have no children, have entered into a Separation Agreement and resolved all property and support issues, they can obtain an uncontested divorce after a six month separation period.
If the parties have children, the separation period required is one year for an uncontested divorce irrespective of whether all rights have been settled.
Grounds such as adultery, desertion and cruelty may be factors in a divorce and in an ultimate distribution of assets, or payment of spousal support.
Most people who have children attempt to come to a compromise with a Property, Custody and Support Settlement Agreement which would be negotiated by the parties and their attorneys.
This method helps to limit the animosity and to promote co-parenting.
In the process of negotiating a settlement, discovery may be utilized.
Discovery is a list of questions and a request for documents that require the parties to produce financial records and personal information necessary to have a full understanding of the case.
Some people attend mediation sessions, either with or without their lawyers, to attempt a fair settlement and avoid litigation.
If the case cannot settle, a trial will be scheduled.
Custody and equitable distribution (the division of property and allocation of support) are not tried on the same day in Fairfax County, but other jurisdictions do hear both matters together.
Depending on the specific parameters of a case, depositions may be taken by either side, and preliminary motions may be heard to determine temporary support, temporary custody and visitation, as well as temporary exclusive use of a marital residence, payment of health insurance and other related issues.
Outcomes of divorce are never predictable as both parties bring very different expectations and personalities to the case.
However, trial is a rarity and settlement is usually financially and emotionally more effective for the client.
The Bowen Law Firm does everything it can to minimize expensive litigation, but if necessary, we will be fully prepared for your day in court.
If you have questions about the divorce process, please contact The Bowen Law Firm for an in-depth consultation regarding the specifics of your case.