How many words would you need to explain one word? Virginia’s Supreme Court took 544 words to explain their disapproval of the word “shall.” Let’s see how many we need to ensure you completely understand how a Virginia property settlement agreement — also called a separation agreement — gets you to your uncontested, no-fault Virginia divorce.
What is a Property Settlement Agreement?
A separation agreement is a marital agreement under Virginia Code § 20-155. You are either married or divorced in the Commonwealth. No gray area, no “legal separation.”
To initiate a divorce, a signed property settlement agreement starts the clock ticking. Six months (with no children) or a year (with children) after you sign and separate, you and your spouse can file for an uncontested, no-fault divorce.
Getting an Uncontested Divorce?
An uncontested, no-fault divorce is the easiest, fastest, least expensive way to sever marital ties in Virginia. One other way — a contested divorce — is a nasty, costly, bruising affair. The other, other way — fault-grounds divorce — is uglier still, since one of you must have committed a truly horrendous act to qualify for that.
Uncontested, on-fault divorce is the only avenue you and your spouse can take that does not smear each other’s reputation (fault-grounds) or compel both of you to have your own gold-plated, deep bench legal teams (contested).
Virginia Code, § 20-121.02 allows you two to divorce without making one another miserable:
In any divorce suit wherein a bill of complaint or cross-bill prays for a divorce from the bonds of matrimony under § 20-91 or prays for a divorce from bed and board under § 20-95, at such time as there exists in either party’s favor grounds for a divorce from the bonds of matrimony under § 20-91 A (9), either party may move the court wherein such divorce suit is pending for a divorce from the bonds of matrimony on the grounds set out in § 20-91 A (9) without amending the bill of complaint or cross-bill.
Ninety-seven words to say “uncontested divorce is legal here.” Mighty fine crop of legalese, that.
Required Versus Wise
By the strictest interpretation of Virginia’s laws, a property settlement agreement or separation agreement (same thing) is not required for an uncontested divorce. You can opt to find a more awkward, difficult, unpleasant way to go through an uncontested, no-fault divorce than with the timely filing of a separation agreement.
Why would you want to? Here are the procedural rules (with our emphasis) from Virginia Beach’s Circuit Court’s guide to uncontested divorce:
Requirements for an “Uncontested Divorce” in Virginia
… (3) The grounds are separation for the statutory period (no-fault), or a motion for a no-fault divorce will be made pursuant to Virginia Code § 20-121.02. There are two “no-fault” grounds recognized in Virginia: (1) separation for one year after intending that it be permanent; and (2) separation for six months after intending that it be permanent where the parties have no minor children and both have signed a written settlement agreement. For parties seeking a divorce based on only six (6) months of separation, a written settlement agreement signed by both parties is required before you file for divorce, even if the parties are not seeking support payments and have no property together. Therefore, if you are approaching a separation period of one year, you may find it easier to wait until you qualify based on a one year ground, rather than attempting to file immediately for a divorce based on six-months of separation.
In case you missed it, you can wait a whole year after separation to file for an uncontested divorce without a property settlement agreement in place, with or without kids. But the Circuit Court reminds you such a move only slows things down (with our added emphasis):
(4) All the elements for the grounds of divorce must be in place before the case is filed. As a result, if any of the following apply to your filing, you will have to dismiss your divorce, pay another filing fee, and start over if you want to continue with no-fault grounds:
… Filing on the grounds of six months separation, without having a written separation agreement that was signed by both parties before you filed. The written agreement can address anything related to the marriage that the parties choose. Examples include property and support. There are no exceptions to the requirement of a written agreement signed by both parties if the grounds are six months separation – even if the parties feel they do not have anything to divide between themselves.
Call Our Uncontested Divorce Attorneys
Do it right the first time. Get the separation agreement, elect for an uncontested divorce, and get on with your life. A great way to get this necessary step completed is by contacting The Firm For Men or calling us at (757) 383-9184. There. We only needed 825 words to help you see that a separation agreement is your wisest, fastest, best path to uncontested divorce.