How Fast Is A Divorce In Virginia?

Getting a fast Virginia divorce depends on a number of factors, including the grounds for divorce, where you and your spouse live, and whether you and your spouse have signed agreements about your post-marriage life.

How Fast Is A Divorce In Virginia?

The time it takes to get a fast Virginia divorce varies depending on the reason behind the divorce.  Some divorces take more than a year, while others may happen within a couple of months.

Factors that affect whether you can get a fast Virginia divorce include the grounds for divorce, where both you and your spouse live, and whether you and your spouse are willing to work out details of your post-marriage life.

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..

Can I get a Fast Virginia Divorce?

After you file for divorce, you spouse is given the opportunity to respond.

The amount of time your spouse is given to respond depends on where your spouse lives. Generally:

  • 21 days if the spouse lives in Virginia;
  • 60 days if the spouse lives in a state other than Virginia; and
  • 90 days if the spouse lives outside of the United States.

If your spouse does not respond to your petition for divorce in the amount of time allotted, the court may proceed with the divorce.

Depending on whether or not (and how) your spouse responds, your Virginia divorce could move quickly.

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 a year before a divorce is granted.

Since marriage is widely considered a sacred covenant between two people, a court may not grant you a divorce as quickly as you may wish.

Instead of simply asking the court for a fast Virginia divorce from your spouse, you must also give a reason why you want a divorce.

There are two types of reasons you may give: non-fault based reasons or fault based reasons.

No-Fault Divorce

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 Divorce

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.   Here are the fault-based grounds that are recognized:

Adultery

Adultery is when a married person has a sexual relationship with someone outside of their marriage.

Adultery is still a criminal offense in Virginia and if you have proof that your spouse stepped out on you, the court may grant your divorce immediately.

Mere accusations won’t do though.

You have to have proof that your spouse had “the inclination and opportunity” to cheat on you.  The prime example of obtaining proof is hiring a private investigator.

Similar to the movies, a private investigator can follow your spouse around, take pictures of any suspicious activity, and deliver the pictures to you in a big envelope.

Conviction of a felony with a sentence of more than one year

This is pretty self-explanatory.  You shouldn’t have to suffer because of your spouse’s wrongdoings.

With this option, you are not forced to wait around for your spouse while he or she serves their sentence.

Abandonment or Desertion

Abandonment or desertion is when your spouse has intentionally left your marital home with wishes to end the marriage against your will.  To prove that your spouse deserted, you must show:

  1. Your spouse intended to end your marriage;
  2. You did nothing to justify your spouse deserting you; and
  3. The desertion to end the marriage was against your will.

Cruelty

If your spouse treats you very badly, you may ask the court for a divorce based on his or her cruelty. You will be required to prove habitual, cruel, inhumane treatment that was intolerable.

Does It Matter What My Grounds For Divorce Are?

If you’re looking for a fast Virginia divorce, the grounds for the divorce may make a difference.

For example, if you could prove adultery, a court may grant your divorce much faster.

Typically, when a spouse is at fault, the court may look at the innocent spouse more favorably when it comes to dividing marital property, awarding alimony, or determining custody.

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.

 

Conclusion

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.

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