Updated: Jan 18, 2021
We actually get this question quite often. To answer the question directly - no, both parties do not have to sign divorce papers in Virginia. Now that we have answered the question, let's go into more details if you are interested.
In a nutshell, there are two "types" of divorce in Virginia - contested and uncontested divorces. A thumbnail difference between the two is whether the parties have a written separation agreement. If they do and there is nothing left for the Court to decide, you can get an uncontested divorce in Virginia by filing the paperwork, having your spouse sign a waiver/acceptance of service of the divorce Complaint, and then submit the final decree with some other necessary documents for the Judge to sign off on to finalize your divorce. To answer the next question - no you do not actually have to come to Court to get divorced as everything can be done by paperwork.
Now for this to happen, yes your spouse has to sign a separation agreement. So let's go to the next logical question - what happens if my spouse signs a separation agreement but does not want to sign any of the Court documents? There is a solution for that as well. If he or she will not, for whatever reason, sign the Court paperwork to finalize the divorce then it gets served upon him or her and the process becomes more formal. If after twenty-one (21) days your spouse does not respond to the Complaint, then we notice (file a Motion for a divorce hearing with the Court) for entry of the Final Decree of Divorce. This is a hearing that you can also skip, however, we like to have our clients present (1) in case the Court has any questions about the divorce and (2) so our clients are actively involved in the process. If your spouse does not respond to the paperwork and continues to play ostrich, then we will ask the Court to enter the Final Decree of Divorce.
The next and hopefully last logical question is what if we do not have a written Separation Agreement? Well the answer is the same - no both parties do not have to sign divorce paperwork in Virginia. The process is similar to the one in the paragraph above but it takes a little bit longer. Each Court has a different process for this type of situation but basically you have to have a "mini" divorce hearing where you and your witness(es) will have to testify as to those things at issue whether it is custody, money, debt, etc. The hearing should not take long but it just has to be a little more formal given that the Court technically has to rule on everything.
We hope that this answered your question about whether both parties have to sign divorce papers in Virginia. If it did not, feel free to give us a call at 757-454-2110 or use the Contact Form at www.stepuptobat.com to set up a free consultation with a lawyer about your situation.
Also we have other blog posts about divorce and the divorce process. Feel free to read them and if you have questions let us know!