Divorce and Family Lawyers in Bedford
If you or your spouse have decided to file for divorce in Virginia, you are entering a legal process that is complex and at times emotional. The one person that you had vowed to spend the rest of your life with has suddenly become a legal adversary, and decisions regarding finances and other vital matters can become clouded.
The family law attorneys at Pack Law Group have an intimate understanding of Virginia divorce law and can relate on a personal level as husbands and fathers who have gone through a divorce or child custody dispute. We promise to not only protect your legal rights but also to minimize the stressful toll that this process takes so that you can move forward with your life.
Divorces in Virginia can take many different paths depending on your circumstances and goals. Our attorneys advocate for completion of your divorce through settlement whenever possible, but we understand that everyone’s needs are unique, so a court proceeding may be the only option.
No-Fault vs. Fault Divorce
When you file for divorce in Virginia, you must state the grounds for ending your marriage. Virginia allows for both fault and no-fault divorces. Which option you choose is something that you can decide with your attorney. Your decision may ultimately depend on your circumstances.
No fault divorces in Virginia require that there be a six or twelve-month separation before filing for divorce. For a six-month separation to be valid, both parties must enter into a written agreement to separate and have no minor children. If you did not enter into a written agreement or have minor children, you would have to wait twelve months before filing for a no-fault divorce.
Virginia also allows for fault-based divorces, where a plaintiff can allege wrongdoing on the part of their spouse. You must be able to prove this misconduct, which can be in the form of:
- Adultery. You can prove that your spouse had sexual relations with another person.
- Desertion. Your spouse left the marital home without any good reason.
- Cruelty. Your spouse behaved in a way that put your safety and security at risk.
Limited vs. Complete Divorce
Virginia law allows for either a limited or complete divorce. You can select either depending on your goals. A limited divorce is also referred to as a “divorce from bed and board,” and may be considered a legal separation in some states. When you choose this option, you don’t fully dissolve the marriage but instead, enter a legal separation. Unlike traditional divorces, a limited divorce is only available on the grounds of fault.
Most couples want to completely dissolve their union so that they are free to re-marry or otherwise sever legal ties from their spouse. This is a traditional or “complete” divorce. If you have been a party to a limited divorce for at least one year, you can ask the court to convert it to a complete divorce. Otherwise, you will have to meet the requirements for divorce that involve residency, time living apart, and giving any grounds for divorce.
Contested vs. Uncontested Divorce
You may also have the option of pursuing a contest or uncontested divorce in Virginia. If you have a written Separation Agreement that provides provisions for division or property and other significant issues, your divorce could be simplified. If you cannot agree on matters related to assets, child custody and support, or alimony, you will have to opt for a contested divorce.
Division of Property in a Virginia Divorce
When you dissolve your marriage, you must also come to an agreement about the separation of assets and liabilities. If the parties cannot reach a fair and equitable settlement, the Virginia legislature has created criteria for the division of marital property.
First, an accounting of all property is made, which includes home equity, investments and pensions, and household goods. The courts will then determine whether each piece of property is owned jointly or individually. An individually-owned item is kept by that spouse. These are generally items that are acquired before the marriage took place or outside the marriage, such as with an inheritance.
Any items, assets and debt, acquired during the marriage are considered marital property. The courts will consider several factors in determining the division of assets such as the length of the marriage, the earning power of each spouse, health, and age, among others. Having skilled legal counsel in your corner during this process is critical.
Other Issues Related to Your Divorce
Many divorces involve more than just dissolving a union and dividing property. If you have minor children or meet certain conditions, you may face some other contentious issues. These include:
- Child Custody and Visitation. Who your children live with and how a visitation schedule is arranged can be a contested and emotional issue in a divorce.
- Child Support. Each parent must financially support their minor children. While the state has statutory guidelines for this, courts have the ability to deviate from the rules when they see fit.
- Spousal Support. Also referred to as alimony or maintenance, one spouse may be required to pay ongoing or temporary support to the other.
In all these instances, it is essential that you have the right representation to protect the financial and emotional welfare of you and your loved
Comprehensive Virginia Family Law Support
In addition to divorce and child custody matters, the attorneys at the Pack Law Group provide assistance across a range of Virginia family law matters, including negotiating and drafting prenuptial agreements, establishing or challenging paternity claims, stepparent adoptions, and more. As fathers ourselves who have been through difficult custody battles, we are particularly concerned with issues surrounding dad’s rights in family law. For help with a divorce or other family law matter in Bedford, Lynchburg, Roanoke and central Virginia, call the Pack Law Group at 540-586-7225 for advice and representation from knowledgeable, experienced and dedicated Virginia family law attorneys.