People often come into our office or contact us and asked “what is a contested divorce in Virginia?“. And believe it or not that is a rather simple question to answer. To answer it we must back up a little bit and talk about divorce in general.
In Virginia there is no such thing as a legal separation. You’re either married or you’re not. You can be separated from your spouse which means living separate and apart where one of you has the intention. We will discuss this in more depth another blog post. But you can live separate and apart under the same roof or under separate roofs.
When you file for a divorce, it is either contested or uncontested. An uncontested divorce means that you have a written separation agreement that divides up or addresses everything that is part and parcel of the divorce. Custody, visitation, support, debts, assets, etc., they are all covered and there’s nothing for the judge to decide. This is the quickest and cleanest method of getting a divorce.
A contested divorce means that there are issues or at least one issue for a judge to decide. This could be something as simple as who gets the families dog or as complicated as dividing up all of the dads and all of the assets. It means simply that there is no written agreement to end the marriage and divide everything of the marriage.
There are different grounds for a contested divorce. They can include cruelty, desertion, abandonment and adultery. You can even have a “no fault“ contested divorce. This means that you were telling the judge we’re not mad or upset with each other nor are we pointing the finger in assessing blame, we just need to court to decide what to do with the assets.
So a contested divorce is simply one where there is not a written agreement for the court to determine everything. A contest divorce canned change into an uncontested divorce and vice versa. It all depends on that written agreement.
If it all possible, we recommend an uncontested divorce. Not only is it cheaper and quicker, but it also gives you control over how your divorce is going to end. Otherwise, you leave the decision in the hands of the most under educated person in the room regarding your personal life who just happens to be the judge.
For more information, feel free to visit our exclusive family law site for information on divorce, separation, child custody, child visitation, spousal support and child support at BrianThomasson.com.
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