On January 17, 1969, the United States Justice Department began a lawsuit against IBM1. The trial began on May 19, 1975 and was not over until January 8, 1982, when the same Justice Department withdrew its suit. That’s a case and trial that lasted 12 years, 11 months, and 23 days. The wheels of justice, they turn mighty slowly. How fast can they move on your divorce case in Virginia?
Virginia Courts … Hey, Not So Fast
In Virginia, the wheels of the legal system move deliberately slowly, too. This is not a quirk of the process; it is done to remove emotion from the matter. Emotion is largely antithetical to law. On one side, you have the human heart and head, flooded with hormones and torn by desires. On the other side, you have blind justice, balancing evidence and legal precedent on impartial scales.
Divorce is one of the messier human endeavors, since in many ways it is the emotional opposite of wedding two people in matrimonial harmony. Divorce is sometimes unpleasant, often stressful, and usually expensive. It can also take a dastardly long time.
Because divorce is so deeply entangled with emotion, Virginia’s legal system tries its hardest to allow some breathing space, some thinking room, so that both sides can think clearly about their choices. If divorce was granted by way of drive-through courts, the noble institution of marriage would fall to our species’ notable lack of patience.
So How Long Does Divorce Take to Finalize?
Despite misleading internet clutter suggesting “quickie divorce” in the Commonwealth, you only have two avenues for divorce in Virginia:
- Fault grounds, in which one of you accuses the other of something from the menu of heinous behaviors such as “adultery; or for sodomy or buggery committed outside the marriage,” in which case you can get your divorce a full year after the heinous act
- No-fault grounds, in which neither of you is tarred as a pervert, criminal, or monster; a no-fault, uncontested divorce requires separation before the divorce and takes anywhere from 30 to 90 days after separation
Separation in Virginia, a prerequisite for no-fault divorce, comes in two varieties:
- Six months if you two have no children
- Twelve months if you have children
The absolute fastest divorce in Virginia, then, is a no-fault, uncontested divorce without children; you separate for six months, file for divorce, and the divorce decree emerges from the machinery of the Virginia Court System some 30 to 90 days later.
How Long Does Divorce Take with Kids?
A vanishingly small percentage of Virginia’s population has the foresight to plan ahead for divorce by marrying but refusing to bear children. Nearly all Virginia marriages involve attempts to continue bloodlines, if only so you can utter lines like, “Bennett, of the Botetourt Bennetts. Surely you are familiar with Bennett’s Beneficent Bunion Balm?”
Since most couples churn out at least their replacements, most Virginians divorce after a year’s separation. The year is built into the system so that the parents can work through details of child support, child custody, spousal support, and property division. Without children, that process is considerably simpler; you get half the Bunion Balm, she gets half the Bunion Balm. Done.
What Can Be Done?
If you cannot get an immediate divorce, what can be done to help you move your life along from a marriage gone sour?
Your first step is to enlist the help of an experienced family law attorney. Pass on the offers to be put in touch with your drinking buddy’s golf pro’s cousin’s friend who knows a real estate lawyer. You need a lawyer familiar with Virginia family law, the many aspects of separation and divorce, and the ways your future finances are threatened.
That’s right; a shoddily handled divorce may seem to drag out, but once done, it can leave you financially devastated for years. In the hands of a capable attorney, though, you can move through property settlement, custody concerns, and parenting time while preserving your finances. You can safeguard your fiscal health for many years to come, even if the separation and divorce takes a full year and some months.
If you need an immediate divorce because you feel threatened by your spouse, be honest with your attorney. Ask for legal relief in the form of an Emergency Protective Order (EPO), Preliminary Protective Order (PPO), or Permanent Protective Order (PO). True, it is a piece of paper and not a shield. Yet it can provide legal protection from your departing spouse so that contact results in immediate arrest and incarceration.
Allowing only your attorney to be your voice is also a great way to put emotional and psychological distance between you and your exiting spouse. Even if the waiting period seems forever, minimized contact puts your spouse in the background while the calendar churns through the six or twelve months.
For accurate, confidential answers to your family law questions, telephone us at (757) 383-9184 or contact us today at The Firm For Men. We take pride in protecting Virginia’s men, their financial resources, and their relationships with their children.