FAQ

My spouse and I have separated, when can I get a divorce?

After a separation, parties can get divorced after one year. However, if there are no minor children and if the parties sign an agreement concerning property division, support, and child custody, the parties can get divorced after six months from the time of separation.

If the divorce is based on adultery or the other spouse committing a felony and being sentenced to more than a year of incarceration, there is no waiting period.

How does property division work in Virginia?

First, Virginia considers certain property “marital property” that is subject to division upon divorce. Marital property is any property acquired during marriage. This can include tangible objects like real estate and vehicles as well as intangible property like military retirement, life insurance, and retirement benefits.

Virginia courts start with a clean slate, presuming that all property will be split equally between the parties. Then, the court will take into account externalities such as:

-The age and health of the parties

-The length of the marriage

-The circumstances that contributed to the breakdown of the marriage

-Each individuals contribution to the marriage

-Anything else the court deems equitable

We have children; what will happen to them?

Virginia courts favor giving parents joint legal and physical custody. Legal custody is the parent’s ability to make choices regarding the child’s medical care, education, and religious upbringing. Joint physical custody means that each party is entitled to equal time with the child.

In deciding whether or not to grant joint legal or physical custody, the court will determine what is in the best interests of the child. In determining what is in the best interests of the child, the court will look into the following:

– The reasonable interest of the child

– The medical needs of the child

– The relationships the child has developed with close relatives

– Any incidences of past abuses

– The party’s ability to care for the minor child

I already pay/receive child support, can I get it changed??

If you pay or receive court ordered child support, you may be able to get it changed. Virginia requires that, in order to change child support obligations, you must prove two things: (1) A substantial change in circumstances, and (2) that the changed circumstances warrant a change in child support.

A change in circumstances can be any number of things, as long as the change is one that the court would consider substantial. Events that may qualify as a change in circumstances may include loss of a job, substantial increase/decrease in income, or a child graduating high school or turning 18.

The change in circumstances warrants a change in child support when the change either substantially impairs the payors ability to pay or substantially increases the income available to the payor.

In deciding whether or not to grant joint legal or physical custody, the court will determine what is in the best interests of the child. In determining what is in the best interests of the child, the court will look into the following:

– The reasonable interest of the child

– The medical needs of the child

– The relationships the child has developed with close relatives

– Any incidences of past abuses

– The party’s ability to care for the minor child