What to Expect during Divorce Proceedings
At a time when your family is in upheaval, it is helpful to know the steps involved in a Virginia divorce.
- Initial filing—Either you or your spouse must be a Virginia resident for at least six months in order to file for divorce. The person seeking divorce files a Complaint for Divorce petition with the circuit court on the chancery side. The petition is served on the other spouse.
- Filing an answer—The person not filing must respond to the petition usually within 21 days.
- Uncontested divorce—If either spouse states irreconcilable differences have caused a breakdown in your marriage either in the complaint or the response, and you have been separated for at least one year, divorce can be granted.
- Grounds for divorce—If you or your spouse have not been separated for at least one year or you do not agree to the divorce, one of you can seek divorce on the grounds of adultery, conviction of a felony after marriage followed by one year imprisonment, cruelty or willful desertion lasting at least one year.
- Agreement on issues—If you and your spouse agree on critical issues, such as property division, child custody and support, your divorce can be finalized without going to trial.
- Hearing on the issues—If you and your spouse do not agree on either the divorce itself or on divorce-related issues such as property division, child custody or support, a hearing is scheduled.
- Final decree—At the end of the hearing, the commissioner in chancery files a report with the clerk and notifies you of the filing time, typically 30 days. After this report is filed, mail your Final Decree to the court clerk for the judge to sign. The judge usually signs it within a few days.
If you live in Washington, D.C., the process is somewhat similar. You must file with the D.C. Family Court and the person served with the Complaint of Divorce has 60 days to respond. Contact us to learn more about filing for divorce in D.C.
Documentation you should provide to your attorney
To effectively and efficiently prepare your case, your divorce lawyer needs as much information as possible from you and your spouse, including:
- Birth certificates
- Immigration and naturalization documents
- Social Security cards
- Any prior court decrees
- Any prior separation agreements or prenuptial agreements
- Federal, state and local income tax returns for the last three to five years
- Payroll statements
- Pension or retirement plan documents
- Insurance policies
- Real estate deeds, contracts or leases
- Mortgages, loans, credit card statements and other documentation showing debt
- Checking and savings accounts
- Household budgets or expense records
- Bills or expense statements for other expenses such as food, rent, utilities, gas, education, vacations, entertainment, household goods
- Business documents if either you or your spouse operates a business, including profit and loss statements, tax returns, balance sheets, partnership or shareholder agreements, insurance policies, business contracts and real estate records
We stand by your side
The divorce attorneys at Pikrallidas & Associates have helped numerous clients through this difficult time and emotionally fraught process. We can help you, too. You are not alone.
Aggressive pursuit of justice
The legal team at the Fairfax, VA law firm of Pikrallidas & Associates has been committed to our clients' best interests since our founding in 1992. We place them ahead of all else. When you need an attorney who is focused, aggressive, yet compassionate to handle divorce, call us at 703-267-2600 or contact us online. Hablamos español.
Serving clients throughout Virginia and the District of Columbia