Last updated on March 21st, 2019
The time it takes to get a divorce in Virginia varies depending wildly on the reason behind the divorce, the court you’re filing in, and how you choose to file.
Some divorces take more than a year, while others may finish within a couple of months.
Couples that can work out documents like a property settlement agreement, or a parenting plan if there are children from the marriage, may submit these to the court and potentially speed up the process.
Grounds for Divorce: No-Fault and Fault
Virginia recognizes both no-fault and fault-based grounds for divorce. If you allege that your spouse is not at fault, a court will typically require you and your spouse to separate for at least six months or a year before even filing for divorce.
On the other hand, if you choose to base your divorce on some fault committed by your spouse, you may be able to get divorced in a few months.
No-Fault Divorces in Virginia
No-fault divorce means that you do not have to prove that your spouse did something wrong, just that you don’t get along anymore.
You’ve probably heard this referred to as irreconcilable differences, which means the marriage just wasn’t working. Perhaps in the hope that you and your spouse will reconcile, the court requires you to show that you and your spouse have actually lived apart and separately for a set amount of time.
Some couples actually reunite during this time and eliminate divorce from their radar.
Other couple can meet the separation requirement easily which is typically:
- One year of separation; or
- Six months of separation if there are no minor children and you and your spouse have entered into a separation agreement.
Generally, you and your spouse must live apart for at least one year. If you do not have any minor children and can show that you have entered into a separation agreement, you may only have to live apart for six months.
A separation agreement is not an agreement to separate (like it sounds), but an agreement establishing how you and your spouse plan to handle issues such as property division and alimony.
Fault-Based Divorces in Virginia
Unlike no-fault divorce, “fault-based divorce” means that you would like the court to grant your divorce because your spouse did something bad. Not just anything bad, but something bad that Virginia agrees is sufficient to warrant divorce.
The Virginia Code specifically recognizes 4 actions which can directly lead to a divorce:
- Conviction of a felony
If your spouse committed adultery, or was convicted of a felony with a sentence of a year or more in jail, you may divorce them immediately.
If you can prove your spouse abandoned you, or was excessively cruel to you, you can instead choose to file for a “bed and board divorce.” This type of divorce is like a shortcut to the normal divorce
I’m Ready to File for Divorce, Where Do I File?
Not only will the timing of your divorce depend on your reasons, but it may also be impacted by whether you file the proper paperwork in the proper court.
To expedite the process, you want to make sure you file your divorce petition in the correct court, meaning the court must have the power to grant your petition for divorce.
Virginia circuit courts have the power to grant divorce petitions when either you or your spouse has been a resident of Virginia for at least 6 months prior to filing.
The petition for divorce may be filed in one of two places:
- The place where you and your spouse lived together last; or
- The place where your spouse lives if your spouse lives in Virginia or outside or Virginia.
Whether or not you can get a fast Virginia divorce depends on a number of factors. Whether you file for divorce on fault or no-fault grounds can have an impact.
Additionally, being able to work things out with your soon-to-be ex-spouse before you file can affect timing. Also, whether your spouse lives in our out of Virginia may change the time it takes.
While some divorces can move very quickly, plan on around four to six months at a minimum.