Uncontested Divorce in Virginia
- Requirements for uncontested divorce in Virginia
- Is a lawyer required?
- Before you start
- How long it takes
- How much it costs
If you live in Virginia and want to get divorced, an uncontested divorce is the most straightforward path you can take. It’s generally the ideal way to get divorced if both parties can agree on the important points of the divorce, such as how assets ought to be split and how child custody should work.
It is a much faster, cheaper process than a contested divorce, but it’s only possible if the parties can come to a mutual agreement regarding the divorce process.
What are the requirements for an uncontested divorce in Virginia?
An uncontested divorce requires that both parties involved agree to the main items in question regarding the divorce, including how property should be split, how custody of any children should be given, and how support payments should be paid. We discuss this in more detail later, but for a divorce to occur in Virginia, you must have been separated from your partner for one year if you have children together or for six months if you have a separation agreement in place and no children.
An uncontested divorce requires you and the other party to negotiate and largely agree on how the divorce ought to go. While you don’t need to be on friendly terms, an uncontested divorce likely won’t be possible if either person is actively hostile toward the other and unwilling to accept a fair, even-handed conclusion to the marriage.
Is a lawyer required for an uncontested divorce in Virginia?
You can file for divorce without a lawyer in Virginia. While a lawyer may not be necessary to get an uncontested divorce, many people want an expert to review their paperwork before they submit it.
Divorcing couples also can benefit from the help of an unbiased mediator in their settlement negotiations. A mediator is not a lawyer. They are a trained professional who understands conflict resolution and knows how to set it in motion.
The Virginia Poverty Law Center authored a guide to help people assess whether they may need a lawyer for their particular divorce and how to potentially save on certain costs, such as filing fees. You may potentially be able to get free assistance with your divorce process, if you qualify.
What is required before starting the uncontested divorce process in Virginia?
The most obvious thing required for an uncontested divorce is cooperation from both parties. If one party intends to meaningfully resist the flow of the divorce and the other party won’t compromise on certain issues, an uncontested divorce likely won’t be possible.
For similar reasons, an uncontested divorce will typically be a no-fault divorce. Why? It is much more difficult to get someone to legally agree they are at fault for the divorce.
Generally, for an uncontested divorce, both parties will sign a separation agreement. This is a legal agreement between two separated (not divorced) parties that establishes legal separation. It outlines much of what would be needed in a divorce, such as how property, debt, and custody will be divided during the separation.
Without a separation agreement in Virginia, divorcing parties must prove they’ve been separated for at least a year. Notably, with a separation agreement in place, parties who don’t have any minor children must only prove they’ve been separated for at least six months.
What does the uncontested divorce process look like in Virginia?
An uncontested divorce doesn’t require either party to go to court. Instead, both parties will need to make a reciprocal agreement that outlines how property will be split, child custody details, and child support details. This agreement will then be submitted, and it takes several weeks to process.
What to expect after the process is complete
After an uncontested divorce has been processed, you will no longer be married. You will be expected to adhere to all the details in the agreement you made with your former spouse.
The assets you and they had while married will be split as agreed upon. You will want to confirm all the specifics of child custody and visitation so everyone understands their rights and legal duties.
After your divorce has been finalized, you will want to get a certified copy of your final decree of divorce, a document proving you are divorced. To learn how to get this in person or through the mail, contact a record office in your county.
How long does the process take?
The length of time it takes to complete an uncontested divorce varies. It largely depends on the complexity of what needs to be split and how easily both parties can come to an agreement on important items.
An uncontested divorce could be completed within a month if both parties are agreeable and actively trying to expedite the process. If disagreements come up along the way, the process can stretch much longer.
How much will I have to pay?
An uncontested divorce is the most economical approach. That’s because, if you hire a lawyer, costs can skyrocket as hourly fees add up quickly. As of 2018, the average cost of a divorce without kids in Virginia was $14,500.
If you file for divorce and complete much of the process on your own, which is possible with an uncontested divorce, you will only have to pay court fees. Filing fees vary according to county, but they average about $90.
There are likely many details of the divorce process you are unfamiliar with. A divorce coach can help you through the process for a reasonable fee. Most coaches charge by the hour. To learn about divorce coaching from Hello Divorce and the other plans and services we offer, we invite you to schedule a free 15-minute call.
ReferencesDivorce. Fairfax County.
Virginia Do-it-Yourself Divorce Instructions. Pro Bono Net.
Divorce in Virginia. Pro Bono Net.
What Is a Separation Agreement & How Does It Work? (February 2023). Forbes.
Divorce. Virginia Judicial System Court Self-Help.
Code of Virginia. Virginia Law Library.
Divorce and Separation. U.S. Department of State.
Divorce. Stafford County, VA.