Is it Possible for a Husband to Divorce His Wife Without Her Knowing it in the State of Virginia?

By Heather Frances J.D.

You and your spouse don’t have to agree to get a divorce. You can contest a divorce he seeks, disputing information in his court petition. In the alternative, you can consent to the divorce to make the process quicker. No matter how you choose to respond, your spouse must provide proper notice of the pending divorce action or a Virginia court will not grant the divorce. However, if you cannot be located, the court may allow your spouse to serve you by publication in a newspaper. In this case, your spouse could get a divorce without your knowledge.

Due Process

Virginia law requires courts to observe a defendant’s due process rights in any legal action. Due process means you, as the defendant in your spouse’s divorce lawsuit, have the right to be notified about the pending lawsuit and the right to defend yourself. Virginia law establishes procedures intended to make legal processes fair for both parties. A Virginia court does not issue decisions until the procedural protections have been followed.

Personal Service

One way Virginia law provides due process is by requiring the plaintiff to serve the defendant with a copy of the divorce papers. Your spouse can have a process server or a local sheriff serve you. If you are willing to accept service by having the documents mailed or by going to the court to accept the documents, your spouse will not have to have you served. Any of these methods give you the opportunity to see the lawsuit against you and respond if you choose.

Divorce is never easy, but we can help. Learn More

Service by Publication

If your spouse does not know where you live, he may be permitted to serve you by publication, but only as a last resort. If your spouse receives permission from the court to serve you by publication, it is possible you won’t know about the divorce. Virginia, like most states, allows service by publication to ensure that people can get divorced even when their spouse’s whereabouts are unknown.

Default Divorce

If your spouse correctly serves you with the divorce paperwork, even if the service is done via publication, he can proceed with his case. If you do not respond to the divorce petition, the court likely will issue a divorce decree and conclude the case without your input. This is called a default judgment and it usually means your spouse will get whatever he asked for in the divorce petition. It is difficult to reverse a default judgment after it has been issued and there may be a high burden of proof if you seek to have it reversed.

Divorce is never easy, but we can help. Learn More
Can a Person File a Divorce & Get It Granted if They Don't Find the Spouse in New Jersey?


Related articles

How to Serve Divorce Papers in Texas

Often, the easiest part of getting a divorce is filing your petition with the court. Your next step after the court filing is to inform your spouse that you’ve filed the initial papers in the proceedings. This is known as “effectuating service,” and involves ensuring that your spouse has a copy of your divorce petition. Texas law allows you to accomplish this in a variety of ways.

How to File a Divorce in the Dallas County Courts

To file for a divorce in Dallas County, Texas, at least one party to the divorce must be a resident of Texas for a minimum of six months and a resident of Dallas County for at least 90 days. You should confirm that either you or your spouse meets these residency requirements before attempting to file for divorce in Dallas County, Texas.

How to Get a Divorce Without Spouse Consent

In the past, both spouses had to agree to a divorce in some circumstances. This could delay a divorce or make it complicated. Some people still believe that this is the case. However, you can get a divorce without the consent of your spouse in every state. Contrary to the myth, one spouse's lack of consent does not normally delay or complicate a divorce.

Get Divorced Online

Related articles

How to Divorce an Illegal Immigrant

Illegal immigrants have almost the same legal rights as citizens in the U.S. -- at least with regard to marriage and ...

Texas Divorce Laws When a Respondent Cannot Be Located

The typical divorce process requires you to serve your spouse with divorce papers, but you may not be able to get the ...

How to Divorce a Missing Husband in Mississippi

If your husband skips out on your marriage and disappears, it complicates the divorce process, but it won't stop you ...

What if Your Spouse Refuses to Be Served Divorce Papers in NY State?

If you are seeking a divorce in the state of New York and your spouse refuses to receive the papers, you may still ...

Browse by category
Ready to Begin? GET STARTED