Judges rightly have a lot of power in Virginia. We entrust them to know the law, which includes the United States and Virginia constitutions, case law, and the Code of Virginia. We expect them to render fair and impartial verdicts. One of their most solemn duties is to sever the bonds of matrimony for Virginia couples. And, frankly, that takes a while.
No-Fault Divorce in Virginia
For all those ads you might see about a quick divorce in Virginia, they leave out one teensy, tiny, almost trivial issue:
You must be separated for at least six months if you have no children and a full year if you two have children.
Under Code of Virginia § 20-91 (9) (a) so long as neither of you is accusing the other of some vile behavior, you cannot, for half a year or a year, cohabitate, provide for each other, or pop over to each other’s home for a quick … er … quickie.
After staying separate and apart for either the six months (with no children to consider) or the year (with children; if that seems odd the rationale appears to be the longer wait time gives you a chance to reconcile for the benefit of the children), you two can simplify your divorce by filing for divorce by affidavit, foregoing the hearing itself.
You need to be prepared with a property settlement agreement that irons out every detail, so that you can turn the agreement and a written deposition or affidavit over to a judge, who squeezes your divorce into the court schedule.
Still, do not expect the wheels of Virginia’s judicial system to spin into overdrive for you. If all your paperwork is in order, all your filings are on time, and the judge has a fast-moving court calendar, you might wait as little as a month to six weeks; other times, under a tighter court schedule, you might wait more than two months.
This divorce, in which neither accuses the other of something horrendous, is generally amicable and uncontested. More on that later.
Something Wicked This Way Comes
We mentioned that you could accuse your spouse of something vile, such as any of these reasons for a fault grounds Virginia divorce, also described in Code of Virginia § 20-91 :
- Sodomy or buggery outside of marriage
- Causing reasonable apprehension of bodily hurt
- Willfully deserting or abandoning the other
These are all unpleasant accusations to toss around, but in most cases a divorce for these fault grounds will automatically trigger a divorce one year from whatever date the horrific event, the dirty deed, the odious act was first committed by your spouse.
If your spouse is found guilty of a felony and sentenced to prison for more than a year, you also can get a no-questions-asked divorce.
The issue with both the divorce timelines mentioned already is that we are assuming your spouse does not contest either type of divorce (no-fault or fault grounds). Unfortunately for the Virginia man seeking a quick and abrupt end to a marital mistake, a spouse can contest either type of divorce.
Contested No-Fault Divorce in Virginia
Say you and your wife agree the marriage is over, but she cannot agree on the property settlement. You face a contested, no-fault divorce. The only limit to that timeline is the amount of money and labor you want to spend on extracting concessions from one another. The minimum requirements (six months or one year) must still be met, but you add delays and continuances because she refuses to agree to a property settlement.
To speed up a contested, no-fault divorce, hire an excellent, experienced family law attorney. Pick a lawyer who can handle unruly opposing parties, who has faced bitter or angry wives before. Some attorneys prefer to litigate only the law; others recognize the human face and raw emotions of a divorce.
Contested Fault Grounds Divorce
The most ornery, cussed, longest divorce in Virginia is one in which you accuse your wife of something really rather wretched, and she fights you. Say you claim she regularly beat you and your children, or sold drugs out of your marital home, or earned extra money prostituting herself (we know; all of that is revolting). Yet she also claims innocence, wants spousal support, and child custody.
Here, again, the court-imposed timeline means very little. You still need to be apart for six months or a year, but throughout the divorce proceedings, expect her attorney to put up a fuss about everything:
- Expert testimony
She has a lot at stake; her reputation, her financial future, and the security of her children may all be on the line when she is facing charges of adultery or abuse.
A typical Virginia contested fault-grounds divorce could drag on well past a year. Every continuance means rescheduling time in the judge’s packed court calendar.
Your Best Path Forward
Most Virginia men cannot afford the time or money needed to drag out a Virginia divorce. Your first, best move is to get a very good family law attorney and be completely honest. Do you think your wife will fight you? Could your attorney mediate a no-fault, uncontested divorce even if you believe your wife wronged you? Such a strategy, while not perfect justice, may be your best path forward to a life you want.
For every aspect of your Virginia divorce, we at The Firm For Men are ready and waiting to go to work for you. Contact us online or by calling 757-383-9184 today. We want to fight for your rights, keep your divorce on schedule, and help you discover the life after divorce that awaits you.