How Do I Get Divorced In Virginia Beach?
An easy question that we often get is “how do I get divorced in Virginia Beach?”. Although we have an office in Chesapeake, we practice divorce and family law in Virginia Beach, Chesapeake, Norfolk, Portsmouth, Suffolk and the rest of the 757 area code. So while this post may be specifically directed to Virginia Beach, a lot of the information applies to the other cities. Honestly, I believe that the divorce process is fairly similar across Virginia.
Now if you are looking for a tutorial or a do-it-yourself guide, this is not the post for you. We cannot and will not give that without speaking with any potential client. It is impossible because variables need to be accounted for and while the process is straight forward there may be nuances or variables that affect your situation. So while we are trying to give you some guidance to better prepare you for your divorce, if you have specific questions please call a competent attorney. It does not have to be us; just someone who knows what they are doing. Because remember – it may be better to bring someone in to start the process because it is easier and cheaper to do it right the first time than to clean up someone else’s mistake.
So let’s start from the beginning. How does the divorce process work in Virginia Beach? Well, in Virginia Beach, it is just like in every other city or county in Virginia – you have to separate from your spouse and one of you has to have the intention to have that separation permanent. In English – you have to break up for good. It cannot be that one of you is giving the other some space. It has to be that you are breaking up for good.
Now when you separate from your spouse with the intention for it to be permanent what does that mean? It means exactly what you think it means – you are separating for good, forever, for keeps (ok that was me being silly). Now can that actually happen if we do not have enough money for one of us to move out? Yes, you can live separate and apart under the same roof. This means that you and your spouse function more like roommates than anything else. You have your own rooms, your own beds, your own food, your own laundry, etc. Just like roommates. And you DO NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES hold yourself out to the public as a married couple. Roommates would not do it then why would you. And it is really that simple to start your divorce process.
There are two courses of conduct from here and they each have separate paths. Let me see if I can make a divorce flow chart in your mind to show you the next step in the divorce process in Virginia Beach as well as the rest of Virginia.
If the case is uncontested, that means there is a written agreement between the parties. This agreement, normally called a Property Settlement Agreement (or “PSA”) is a written document that addresses all aspects of the divorce. Essentially it is a contract to give the Judge so that there are no decisions to be made by the Court. Whether it is real estate, retirement, bills, accounts, custody or visitation – everything has been addressed. At that point, the PSA, the Final Decree of Divorce, the VS-4 form, and affidavits are submitted to the Court for entry of the divorce. Of course these documents are reviewed by Staff Attorneys to make sure that everything is in proper. If there are changes to be made, the paperwork will be returned with a Correction Notice. Then make the changes and return them to the Court. Once a final version has been approved, the Court will enter the Divorce and it is done.
Now if the case is contested that could be a lengthy and arduous process. If the parties do not or cannot reach an agreement, then the Court has to decide, well, everything. This process is difficult to explain in one blog post so we will post another. Some highlights of the process include Pendente Lite hearings (hearings to enter temporary Orders to address issues such as custody, visitation, support, etc.), discovery, a Judicial Settlement Conference, a Final Pre-Trial Conference, and then the trial. Discovery includes questions that are to be answered in written format, documents to be produced, and, perhaps, definitions. Needless to say, the process is lengthy, detailed, meticulous and, well, expensive. Most importantly, it does not give you control over the process but rather has the least informed person in the room who is constrained by rules of evidence and procedure making a decision regarding your future as well as your family’s future.
We hope that this answered any questions that you may have or at least give you a starting point for what questions to ask. If you would like to discuss this further, feel free to give us a call at 757-909-9737 or use our Contact Form at www.stepuptobat.com/consult 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!