Divorce in Virginia
In Virginia, couples can file for divorce on either a no-fault or fault basis. Filing for a no-fault divorce requires that you and your partner must have lived "separate and apart" — continuously, without cohabitation — for at least one year. Conversely, you can file for a fault divorce if your partner commits adultery, a felony, or is guilty of marital misconduct.
Divorce in Virginia generally falls into two categories — uncontested or contested.
In an uncontested divorce, spouses mutually agree on the essential terms of the divorce. A separation agreement must also be established to outline key terms of the divorce settlement, including asset division, spousal support, child support, and child custody. All agreed-upon terms will be filed with the Virginia court for official approval.
In a contested divorce, both spouses are unable to agree on one or more key items in the divorce settlement. Court intervention may be required to settle divorce issues. During the hearing, the judge will issue the divorce order. An experienced attorney can help present your case and improve your chances of a favorable arrangement.
Spousal support is a regular payment from the higher-earning spouse to the lower-earning spouse for a period during or after the divorce. In Virginia, the divorcing spouses may agree on the duration and amount of spousal support payments and include it in their separation agreement. If they are unable to agree, the court may award spousal support depending on the economic circumstances and the needs of either spouse.
Children and Divorce
In a divorce, child custody and support are essential issues that need to be addressed. The court will award custody while prioritizing the child's best interests and welfare.
In determining custody, the following factors are often considered (Virginia Code Section 20-124.3):
- The reasonable preference of the child
- The child's needs
- The age, physical health, and mental condition of the child
- The age, physical health, and mental condition of each parent
- The existing relationships between the child and the parents, siblings, peers, and extended family members
- The role of each parent in the upbringing and care of the child
- The ability of each parent to actively support the child's contact and relationship with the other parent
- The willingness of each parent to maintain a close and ongoing relationship with the child
- The ability of each parent to cooperate and resolve disputes regarding matters affecting the child
- Any history of family abuse, child abuse, neglect, abandonment, sexual abuse, or domestic violence
- Other factors as considered necessary by the court
The following factors may be considered to determine a fair amount in child support payments (Virginia Code Section 20-108.1):
- The earning capacity or income of each parent
- The custodial arrangement between the parents
- The number of children the parents have together
- The existence of minor children outside of the relationship either parent is responsible for financially
- Other expenses related to taking care of the child
Choose a Knowledgeable Attorney
Resolving family legal issues usually involves a lot of complicated procedures. Consulting with a knowledgeable Virginia family law attorney is important to receive proper guidance and to ensure that your family issues are resolved properly.
Attorney E. Gordon Peters is highly experienced and knowledgeable in family legal matters, including marital agreements, divorce, spousal support, child support, custody, and parenting time. As your attorney, Gordon will work meticulously with all parties involved to resolve all family issues and relationship differences as quickly and peacefully as possible.
Whether you're looking to create a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement, file for divorce, or establish an alimony arrangement, Gordon can offer you the experienced guidance you need to make informed decisions. Even if you need to establish a parenting plan, including child custody, support, or a visitation schedule, he will help craft a solution that works best for you and your family. Gordon will fight to protect your rights and your family's best interests.