Divorce is never easy, but some divorces are easier than others. In “contested” divorces, one spouse files for divorce, the other spouse replies and court hearings follow. Any time spouses disagree on issues related to the divorce, the divorce is contested. Alternatively, if both spouses agree on all divorce matters, the divorce is “uncontested.” Uncontested divorces are typically settled quicker and less expensive.
The Uncontested Divorce Process
To seek an uncontested divorce, the parties must agree to file for a “no-fault” divorce. A no fault divorce means that it’s not either spouse’s fault that the marriage is ending. The only grounds for a no-fault divorce is separation. Separation as a grounds for divorce requires that the spouses have lived separate and apart for at least 1 year, if the couple has minor children. If the couple does not have children, the spouses can file for divorce after being separated for 6 months, as long as the spouses agree to enter into a separation agreement.
Virginia law also requires that at least 1 spouse has lived in Virginia for at least 6 months before filing for divorce.
To file for an uncontested divorces, one spouse must complete and submit forms to the court. The forms are available online, but may vary by county, so it’s important to make sure you submit the correct forms for your county. You can also get paper forms from a local courthouse.
While different counties may vary slightly, generally, the documents required for an uncontested divorce include:
- Complaint for Divorce
- Confidential Addendum for Protected Identifying Information
- Proof of Service or Waiver of Service
- Separation Agreement
- Hearing Request Form or Request to Have Divorce Heard by Affidavit
- Affidavits from witnesses
- VS-4 Form
- Decree of Divorce
- Name change forms, if applicable
To be eligible to obtain an uncontested divorce, both spouses need to agree on every issue of the divorce. This includes issues regarding property and children. A joint separation agreement will need to be signed by both spouses, which divides up all a couple’s assets and responsibilities following the divorce. Additionally, if the couple has minor children, they must also include provisions about visitation, custody, child support, and insurance coverage for any children.
Some uncontested divorces in Virginia will be heard in court, while others can be heard through a deposition or affidavit. You can typically avoid having to go to court if you request to have a hearing by deposition or affidavit and submit additional documents.
Generally, if you miss a required document, the court will dismiss the case and the process will need to be started again. For this reason, it can be beneficial to consult an attorney to make sure the process goes smoothly. If you need assistance obtaining an uncontested divorce in Virginia or would like additional information, contact our family law attorneys.