Couple signing documents and taking off wedding rings


E. Gordon Peters, Jr April 19, 2021

According to the website Statista, the divorce rate in the Commonwealth of Virginia, as computed through the end of 2018, was 3.1 persons per 1,000 inhabitants. TownCharts supplies a further breakdown for the City of Lynchburg, where 48 percent of the population is married and 9 percent is divorced.

If you’re a man considering or facing divorce, you may be wondering what to expect. Will my ex always walk away with the lion’s share? Will my ex get the house and the kids and spousal support on top of that?

A lot of factors can figure into divorce settlements, including how willing the two partners are to discuss matters and settle family arrangements and the division of assets on their own.

Whatever your situation, if divorce is looming for you, you need the help of an experienced Virginia family law attorney. Contact E. Gordon Peters, Jr., Attorney at Law, for help navigating the divorce process and working toward the best possible outcome. Gordon has been serving clients in and around Lynchburg and Blackstone, Virginia, for over two decades and will provide you with the knowledge, experience, and support you need.

Understanding Divorce in Virginia

The Commonwealth provides two legal avenues for divorce — fault and no-fault. A fault divorce can be messy and involves one spouse proving that the other spouse was unfaithful or otherwise brought down the marital union through his or her actions or even inaction, such as desertion or abandonment.

Determining Fault

A no-fault divorce, which merely requires both spouses to agree that the marriage is unsalvageable, is possible under two conditions:

  1. You or your spouse are a legal Virginia resident, have no children under 18, have been separated for six months, and have a written separation/property agreement.

  2. You or your spouse have minor children and have been separated for at least one year.

The separation period must be continuous. You cannot move back together for a while during the 6- or 12-month period, otherwise, the clock will start over.

Contested vs. Uncontested Divorce

A divorce can also be filed as contested or uncontested. Contested means the major issues — the division of assets, custody of children and visitation rights, spousal and child support, debt division, and more — will be decided in court with the two spouses and their attorneys making their case in front of a judge.

An uncontested divorce — which invariably saves both time and money — is resolved between the divorcing spouses and then submitted to the court for approval. Approval is not automatic, as the court can always conclude that the agreement favors one spouse too much over the other, but it is typically the more amicable of the two options.

Division of Assets

Virginia follows the standard of equitable distribution of assets as opposed to a community property standard. The community property standard is reminiscent of Solomon – just divide everything in half – and is followed by only a handful of states.

Equitable distribution involves deciding how the assets should be divided based on a number of different factors, including:

  • Each spouse’s contributions to acquiring marital property and other assets

  • The length of the marriage

  • The age and physical and mental condition of each spouse

  • Each spouse’s debts and liabilities

  • Any other factors that the court deems relevant

Marital Property vs. Personal Property

Equitable distribution also makes a distinction between marital property and personal property. Marital property includes everything acquired by each spouse after their marriage. Personal property is property owned solely by one spouse prior to marriage or acquired during marriage either by gift or through inheritance.

Personal property can become marital property if the other spouse contributes to its maintenance or preservation. For example, one spouse may help the other repair a residence acquired solely before marriage, thus making it potentially marital property.

Child and Spousal Support and Parenting Plans

If minor children are involved, the best course is for both parents to make an attempt to decide all relevant issues amongst themselves — including who gets custody, who pays whom for support, and who gets visitation rights.

If the issues of custody and support go before a court for a ruling, the court is mandated to consider “the best interests” of the child or children when rendering its decision. As for spousal support, if it’s a fault divorce and one spouse has been accused of infidelity, then he or she may be ineligible to receive support if that infidelity can be proven. Otherwise, when deciding spousal support, the court must consider the incomes and financial needs of each spouse, each spouse’s earning ability present and future, the duration of the marriage, and the standard of living established during the marriage (according to Virginia Code Section 20-107.1).

Any award of spousal support will generally include a time frame, meaning it is temporary until the children are grown or the spouse gets back on their feet financially. Permanent alimony is rare and usually applies only when the supported spouse faces disability or other physical or mental conditions that limit their earning potential.

Contrary to popular belief, either parent can request spousal support, just as each can apply for custody of the children. The court is required to decide these issues based on the standards detailed above.

Get the Help of an Experienced Virginia Family Law Attorney

When divorce looms, the best course of action is to decide everything between the two partners. This, of course, can prove difficult because divorce is an emotional and mentally trying time, and mutually beneficial decisions can be tough to come by.

It’s best to put acrimony and accusations aside and work out all of the details on your own. This is where the help of an experienced Virginia divorce attorney can prove essential. After all, the future of you and your spouse – and your children if you have minors in your family – are at stake.

If you are a man who fears that a court will invariably rule in favor of the woman — which is not necessarily so — then standing up for your rights and desires when negotiating an equitable divorce is even more important.

E. Gordon Peters, Jr., Attorney at Law, will work with you to pursue mutually acceptable divorce terms for you and your ex-spouse. With offices in both Lynchburg and Blackstone, Virginia, E. Gordon Peters, Jr. is proud to serve clients throughout the counties of Amherst, Campbell, Bedford, Nottoway, Prince Edward, and Charlotte — so reach out today for a consultation!