Divorce Attorney in Richmond, VA
Providing Trusted Legal Counsel to Families in Need
No one expects their marriage to end in divorce. Sadly, not every marriage is destined to succeed. Whether you drifted apart from your spouse over time, mutually acknowledged a foundational incompatibility, or your trust was recently violated as a result of a physical or emotional affair, there are countless reasons why divorce can be the healthiest route forward for a married couple.
Rest assured that even the most confident decision-makers can find divorce difficult. Knowing that divorce is the right answer can't erase the grief, tension, and other strong emotions that tend to accompany the end of a marriage. It takes courage and stamina to turn the page and start a new chapter. This is why our compassionate team at Janus & Stone, P.C. is here to help you with this important milestone.
Filing for divorce can be an emotional and time-consuming process. In the case that you share high assets or children with a spouse, the stakes can be heightened even more as you negotiate legal details like child support, child custody, and property division. Don’t risk losing what matters most by failing to seek the help you need.
Filing for divorce in Richmond? Call our firm at (804) 265-4441 to request your free consultation.
How to File for Divorce in Richmond
Virginia is a no-fault divorce state, meaning that one spouse does not have to prove fault (a “ground”) to legally seek a divorce. Rather, either spouse can file for divorce at any time on the basis of “irretrievable differences” within the marriage—with or without the other spouse’s agreement or consent.
To successfully file for divorce in Virginia, it’s important to follow the legal process meticulously and correctly. Consider the following steps to file for divorce in Richmond:
Ensure you meet eligibility requirements.
You must meet state residency requirements to file for divorce in Virginia. Under Virginia Code § 20-97, either you or your spouse must have lived in the state for at least 6 months prior to filing.
Fill out the required paperwork.
The state of Virginia does not provide official court forms you will need prior to filing, so you'll need to visit your local court in person to obtain and complete all required documents.
Because divorces are typically processed by Virginia’s circuit courts, you may be able to access some of the forms on their official website. You may also find more specific instructions by searching for your local court online.
File the papers with your local court.
Next, you must take all required paperwork and documentation to your local court to file. Filing fees can vary slightly based on the county you’re filing in, but petitioners can expect to pay approximately $90 to file for divorce.
Complete service of process.
This entails the act of serving the papers to your spouse. If the petitioner does not wish to serve the papers themselves, they may serve the other spouse through the Office of the Sheriff.
Prepare for your upcoming case with a trusted attorney.
After the divorce papers are served, you may wait for a response and court date. It’s wise to consult with your divorce attorney to consider legal strategies, decisions, and potential obstacles when it comes time to start divorce proceedings. Your lawyer will be your go-to resource for all of your divorce-related questions and concerns.
Contested vs. Uncontested Divorces
When preparing for a divorce, you may want to consider which type is right for you. There are two types of divorces that couples can seek in Virginia: uncontested divorces and contested divorces.
What Is a Contested Divorce?
A contested divorce (often referred to as a "traditional" divorce) involves a judge being present to facilitate the legal proceedings and ultimately make final decisions for the couple. This isn't to say that every contested divorce will be messy or complex; rather, it means that the couple does not agree on one or more divorce-related issues.
What Is an Uncontested Divorce?
In Virginia, some couples may be eligible to apply for an uncontested divorce. Unlike a contested divorce, an uncontested divorce requires both spouses to agree on all divorce-related issues and conditions, including (but not limited to):
- Property division
- Asset distribution
- Alimony or spousal support
- Child custody
- Child support
- Parenting plan and visitation schedule
Contrary to popular belief, reaching a comprehensive agreement about divorce terms is easier said than done. It can be especially difficult for couples who share children, possess high-value assets in the marriage, or simply weren’t on the best of terms to begin with.
Many perceive certain advantages of pursuing an uncontested divorce in lieu of a contested divorce, such as:
- More privacy. Families who reach a divorce settlement outside of court can benefit from minimal third-party involvement. This can also make the divorce easier on any children a couple may share.
- Less time-consuming. Uncontested divorces typically take less time to finalize than contested divorces, as a traditional divorce can take months and even years to complete in court.
- Less costly. As you can imagine, saving time can save you money. Because uncontested divorces are often shorter in duration than contested divorces, couples can save on accrued court expenses and other legal fees.
- More agency. By allowing spouses to keep the ball largely in their court, an uncontested divorce can empower a couple to maintain control over their decision from start to finish.
- Lasting civility. No divorce is without its challenges. While both contested and uncontested divorces can be perfectly civil, uncontested divorces are less likely to become hostile or messy, as couples who can reach an agreement without a judge’s intervention are more likely to end on amicable terms and benefit from lasting civil relations.
While some families can benefit from choosing an uncontested divorce, keep in mind that it may not be a suitable route for every couple, especially for those with kids or a marital history of domestic violence or abuse. In these cases, it may be in the family’s best interests to have these significant divorce-related decisions determined by a judge in court to ensure the legal proceedings unfold as fairly and safely as possible.
Do I Need an Attorney for an Uncontested Divorce?
Forgoing your right to legal representation is never a decision that any American should make lightly. While pursuing an uncontested divorce can help you save on court costs and other legal fees, forcing yourself down that road for the sole purpose of cutting financial corners can be unwise.
This isn’t to say that a DIY divorce (“do it yourself”) can’t be an excellent route for some couples. It’s entirely possible to obtain an uncontested divorce without a lawyer’s assistance; however, this may have unintended consequences for some spouses. Forgoing legal counsel can actually cost you more in the long run, as some couples find themselves back in court weeks or months later to do cleanup work or resolve errors after a DIY divorce.
Errors can range from accidental, such as making a mistake on a form or misinterpreting a document, to intentional, such as being blindsided by a spouse who “tweaked” divorce terms to benefit themselves at your expense.
There are various benefits to hiring an experienced divorce lawyer to assist you with an uncontested divorce, including (but not limited to):
- Your divorce attorney can ensure your paperwork is filled out correctly and on time. You’ll find that getting divorced requires a seemingly infinite amount of required paperwork, forms, documentation, and other evidence. Your attorney can clarify any confusing instructions, help you meet appropriate deadlines, and prevent you from wasting time on corrections or missed steps.
- Your divorce attorney can review all documents with a practiced legal eye. Legal jargon can be overwhelming to the average person. A skilled family law attorney can translate language into layman’s terms, prevent you from waiving any of your rights unintentionally, provide sound legal counsel, and empower you to negotiate the best terms possible without settling for less than you deserve.
- Your divorce attorney can help protect your best interests, not your spouse’s. While it isn’t unheard of for two spouses to share an attorney, it’s rare and often ill-advised, as your spouse’s lawyer is legally obligated to advocate on their behalf—not yours. No matter how pleasant or amicable relations seem between a couple and a single attorney, it’s safe to assume that your soon-to-be ex’s legal representation will prioritize their needs over yours once their legal services are retained.
Filing for divorce can be confusing and costly. Take the first step toward a better future today. Call (804) 265-4441 or contact us online to discuss your case with a skilled Richmond divorce lawyer.
How Is Property Divided in a Virginia Divorce?
When it comes to the division of property and other assets during a divorce, the Virginia court will facilitate the distribution as equitably as possible. However, it’s important to understand that “equitably” does not translate to “equally.” This means that while it isn’t impossible to see a 50/50 split in a Virginia divorce, it’s never a guarantee.
The U.S. is comprised of community property states and equitable distribution states. As 1 of 41 U.S. equitable distribution states, Virginia seeks to divide property in a divorce as fairly and equitably as possible by considering a range of additional factors, including (but not limited to):
- Outstanding debts of each spouse
- Financial contributions and histories
- Employability and earning power
- Spending and saving habits
- Age and health
- Duration of the marriage
- Any history of abuse or addiction
Keep in mind that this is far from a comprehensive list. The equitable distribution process acknowledges that what is fair may not always be numerically equal.
While community property states typically seek to split community property (also referred to as marital or jointly owned property) between couples while allowing each spouse to retain ownership of separate property (property acquired prior to the marriage), Virginia and other equitable distribution states consider a larger picture.
For example, if one spouse has a significantly higher earning potential than the other (perhaps if they are more employable or have a higher education level), the court may decide to award them a smaller share of assets in a divorce as a result.
Compassionately Counseling Families in Richmond
When it comes to building a brighter future for yourself and your family, it’s essential to turn to a firm you can trust. Our reliable team at Janus & Stone, P.C. brings over 20 years of experience to the table to serve families in their most challenging seasons.
If you need dependable support and wise legal counsel to navigate the complexities of divorce, you're not alone. Our skilled Richmond divorce attorney is here to guide your next steps. You can count on our firm to help resolve family law disputes as quickly and effectively as possible while working to keep conflict and stress to a minimum.
Divorce doesn’t have to be a battlefield that results in casualties. Protect what’s rightfully yours by reaching out to our office today. Our firm has a hard-earned reputation for putting our clients first, and we will make it a point to be accessible and communicate effectively from start to finish.
Filing for divorce in Richmond? You don’t have to fight alone. Reclaim control of your life today. Call our firm at (804) 265-4441 to request a free consultation.
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