We’ve mentioned the Australian Pitch Drop Experiment before, related to recordkeeping. We mention it again because the nine drops of pitch1 (a tar-like substance) that have fallen from the laboratory funnel since 1927 may seem to be moving faster than your Virginia divorce. Here’s what you can do to speed that up. The divorce, not the pitch.

How Long Does a Divorce Take in Virginia?

First have a good grasp of the length of time a typical divorce in Virginia takes. According to Virginia Code, a no-fault divorce proceeds only after a waiting period of either six months or a year. If you have kids, you separate for a year; having no kids allows you to separate for only six months before filing for divorce. After the waiting period, one of you has your family law attorney file for divorce with the Circuit Court having jurisdiction (at least one of you resides within its area of influence).

A divorce based on fault grounds does not require the waiting period, but such a divorce is likely to be contested. You are both unlikely to readily admit to the various fault grounds:

  • Adultery
  • Sodomy or buggery committed outside the marriage
  • Felony conviction resulting in a sentence for more than one year, with no cohabitation
  • Cruelty
  • Causing reasonable apprehension of bodily hurt
  • Willfully deserting or abandoning the spouse

An uncontested divorce could be fairly straightforward and faster moving; a contested divorce could stretch past a year, especially if the property being settled and divided is of high value.

Contested Divorce in Virginia is Like Super Slo Mo

A contested divorce, or a divorce based on fault grounds, gums up the works like so much pitch oozing through a funnel. To get the fastest possible divorce without the social stain of fault grounds, do two things:

  • Have no children
  • Ensure she will not contest the divorce

That first condition may already be ruled out by real life. Marriages are often built on the notion that you two will create your replacements on this good green earth. You’ll have kids, you’ll go to Disneyworld, you’ll save for college. And then, boom! You want a divorce, and all that planning goes out the window.

Reservations for Two

Getting past your balky wife may require reserving some issues. In law, “reserving” an issue means getting agreement on some topics while holding off a final reckoning on others.

You and your attorney can reserve sticking points but still move ahead with the divorce. This is the most expeditious way around an unresponsive wife:

  1. Your family law attorney has papers served on your wife informing her of the motion for entry of the final decree of divorce
  2. She still ignores you, your attorney, the court date, and the paperwork
  3. You and your divorce lawyer move ahead, get the Final Decree entered with issues reserved (meaning you must hold off on things like child or spousal support, property settlement, child custody, and the like)
  4. The Final Decree is granted as the “relief sought”
  5. At some future date, you and she will have to iron out all those pesky “reserved” issues

This process has the advantage of moving divorce proceedings ahead without your wife’s input. It has the disadvantage that you and she will still need to work through the other details, but at least you will be divorced. She will be reacting to, rather than controlling, the process.

No Show, No Go

Another route to freedom, one that takes considerably longer, allows some issues to be reserved and some to be ruled upon by the Circuit Court judge. That process looks like this:

  1. Your family law attorney files a notice in motion to set a trial, proceeding as if your wife is actively participating in a contested divorce (even if she is unresponsive)
  2. Requests for discovery are served on your wife
  3. She does not show up for the trial date
  4. A new trial date is set (with requisite notice to her; it’s like a merry-go-round of repeated notices that could stretch on)
  5. At your return to trial, she still does not show up and never responds to the served papers
  6. Evidence is submitted to the court
  7. If the Circuit Court has jurisdiction over the divorce, the court will grant an entry of the Final Decree of Divorce
  8. The Court may reserve all issues (Custody, Support, Property Division, etc.) or make a ruling on some or all issues (those above-named items)
    1. The Circuit Court may have jurisdiction over the divorce but not over your recalcitrant wife if she is not in the same city as the hearing and may rule that the issues are reserved for a later date BUT enter the Final Decree
    2. The Circuit Court will definitely deny ruling on the issues if your wife is out of state

It may not be pretty; it may not be the answer you were hoping for. It is the harsh reality, though, and is all the more reason to work with your wife to achieve the goal you both want: to get along peaceably with your lives.

The Firm For Men is The Firm For YOU

For prompt answers to knotty family law questions, please contact us today at The Firm For Men. You may also telephone us at (757) 383-9184. We don’t drag our feet or kick the can down the road. Our Virginia divorce attorneys for men work hard to protect Virginia men’s rights every day. Let us go to work to protect you, your finances, and your worry-free future.

1. https://smp.uq.edu.au/pitch-drop-experiment