How to File for Divorce in Virginia Without a Lawyer

By Tom Streissguth

A divorce can be a complex, expensive and emotionally trying process. If there is a dispute between you and your spouse over child custody, property or support payments, the process becomes even more difficult and time-consuming. However, if you agree on the terms of the divorce, you may be able to carry out a legal divorce without the added expense of an attorney's time and advice.

A divorce can be a complex, expensive and emotionally trying process. If there is a dispute between you and your spouse over child custody, property or support payments, the process becomes even more difficult and time-consuming. However, if you agree on the terms of the divorce, you may be able to carry out a legal divorce without the added expense of an attorney's time and advice.

Step 1

Draw up a Bill of Complaint, which serves as a petition to the court to hear the matter and enter a signed Final Decree for the divorce into the record. Establish grounds for the divorce; Virginia law allows for "no-fault" grounds of separation for at least one year, as well as grounds such as adultery and insanity which you may assert and then prove through evidence you must provide and a signed affidavit.

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Step 2

Serve the Bill of Complaint on your spouse, either by private process server or through the sheriff's department of the county in which your spouse resides. Your spouse may also voluntarily acknowledge service by filing an Answer to the Bill of Complaint. If you are unable to locate your spouse, you must serve the Bill of Complaint by publication: a newspaper announcement with which the court clerk can assist you.

Step 3

Attend a Pendente Lite hearing to temporarily settle issues of child custody and support, visitation rights and living arrangements. In many Virginia counties, you attend a regularly scheduled "open motion" hearing, at which the court hears motions and other matters on a first-come-first served basis.

Step 4

Draw up a deposition concerning the grounds for the divorce and sign this deposition before a notary public. You must have at least one witness for the grounds, whether contested or uncontested. You may also establish the grounds by attending an open hearing and giving testimony in court, although this is not required for uncontested divorces.

Step 5

Draw up a marital settlement agreement and proposed final decree with your spouse. Detail the resolution of all matters to be enforced by the law. These include grounds for the divorce, child custody, visitation and support, the division of property, and all other relevant matters.

Step 6

Attend a final hearing, at which a judge will review your marital settlement agreement, ask questions of either party on the terms of the divorce, explain the legal enforcement of the terms and sign a final decree. This decree makes the divorce final and legal as of the date the judge signs it.

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How to File an Uncontested Divorce in the Commonwealth of Virginia

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Contested Divorce Procedures

The exact procedures of divorce vary between states, but divorce can be a fairly simple process if you have an uncontested divorce. For a divorce to be uncontested, you and your spouse must agree on the reason for the divorce and the terms of the settlement, such as property division, child custody and alimony. However, if you and your spouse contest, or dispute, the terms of your divorce -- or the reason for the divorce itself -- the process may be longer and more expensive.

How to Get a Divorce in Virginia When a Spouse Is Contesting

Finding common ground in a divorce action is not always easy. For divorcing couples in Virginia who cannot agree, the state has several requirements for successfully completing a contested divorce. The process begins by responding to the divorce petition, known as a Bill of Complaint in Virginia, and participating in a hearing with a divorce commissioner. Afterward, the case will then proceed to trial and be decided by a judge, once all pretrial matters have been completed.

How to Fill Out Divorce Paperwork in Alaska

The process for filling out divorce paperwork in Alaska depends on whether you and your spouse agree. In cases where there is no dispute regarding property division, spousal support and child custody and support, Alaska courts refer to the matter as "uncontested." In uncontested cases, much of the time-consuming aspects of divorce can be avoided. If there are areas of dispute, the matter is deemed contested and your case must proceed under the formalities of a traditional divorce action. Understanding how agreement affects the paperwork you need to file will help you avoid delays in the Alaska divorce process.

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