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Divorce Lawyers Serving Fairfax

Divorce can be difficult, complicated, and drain both you and your spouse physically and emotionally. Contested divorces are stressful, but when a divorce is uncontested, it can still make for a challenging few months. Working with an experienced Fairfax divorce attorney can help alleviate many of the challenges you face.

Even for people who are relieved when they think about finalizing their Virginia divorce, this does not mean it is easy. For many couples, it is difficult to try to move forward and look to the future as they try to close the door on the past. Divorce cases can last several months, involving several hours of paperwork to close that door and an equal amount of time dedicated to decision-making to help plan for the future. Unfortunately, as a case moves forward, it tends to get more complicated as issues are hashed out, especially when children or assets are a large part of the decision-making.

The legal team at ShounBach wants to help you move forward with dissolving your divorce in a seamless manner that is as stress-free and amicable as possible. It is our goal to make the process easy and understandable for you. Our family law attorneys are proud of ShounBach’s proven track record of successfully resolving legal issues for our Fairfax clients. Call our law firm today at 703-222-3333 to schedule a consultation about your Virginia family law matter.

What Happens in a Divorce for Fairfax, Virginia Residents?

In every divorce case in Fairfax and the rest of the Commonwealth of Virginia there are specific requirements both parties in a marriage must adhere to when they file for divorce. Under Virginia state law, the only no-fault grounds to file for a divorce is separation. As a result, the process of obtaining a divorce starts with a physical separation for a period of time no less than six months which must occur prior to your actually filing for the divorce. This does not, however, apply to all marriages. Virginia state law indicates if you have minor children with your spouse, you will need to be separated for at least a period of one year before you can file for divorce.

That being said, once you can establish your physical separation from your spouse, you do not need a formal separation agreement before you are able to file for divorce. However, to initiate your divorce, you do need to submit a Complaint for Divorce.

How Does Contested and Uncontested Divorce Differ in Fairfax, Virginia?

In Fairfax, Virginia you can pursue either an uncontested or a contested divorce. It is important for divorcing couples to understand the difference because the latter is far more complicated and could result in long-drawn-out divorce proceedings.

What is an Uncontested Divorce?

Uncontested divorces are much like they sound — it is a situation where two spouses are able to come to an amicable agreement about all matters involved in a divorce. In general, these types of divorces are pretty straightforward and are finished quickly. The more agreeable you and your spouse are with respect to issues such as child custody, child visitation, child support, and property division, including the division of assets and debts, the less complicated your divorce will be.

What is a Contested Divorce in Fairfax?

Contested divorces typically occur when two spouses cannot come to an agreement to settle their divorce. For instance, one or both parties may not agree to a no-fault divorce and want to pursue a grounds-based divorce. If this is the case, the petitioning spouse must prove at least one of four grounds for divorce permitted under Virginia law. Once the petitioner serves the defendant with notice, the defendant spouse has the right to file a response to the court. Once this is completed, the divorce can proceed and a trial can be scheduled.

Once a Fairfax judge signs the final order of divorce, the divorce process is concluded. If you are involved in a contested divorce, it is important to know after you go through the entire process of a court hearing and the final order of divorce, there is an appeal period for thirty days following the date of the order. Most cases are not appealed. Following thirty days after the final order of divorce, the case is no longer eligible for appeal and the decision is final in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Due to this, it is important for people involved in a divorce to have adequate legal representation since the outcome will affect the rest of their life.

What is the Timeline for Uncontested and Contested Divorces?

If your divorce is uncontested, the timeline for the finalization of your divorce will occur in roughly one to three months after you have been separated for the statutory time frame which is either six months or one year. Contested divorces are far less simple. If your divorce is contested by either you or your spouse, you should be emotionally and physically prepared to face a longer case, since these divorces usually last a lot longer, sometimes taking up to as long as one to two years.

man and woman sitting on couch across from therapist with a paper

What Are the Fault-Based Grounds for Divorce in Fairfax, Virginia?

If you are thinking about pursuing fault-based grounds for divorce or if your spouse has decided to pursue fault-based grounds against you, the choices are limited and state law is very specific about how they are applied in a divorce case. The following are the only at-fault grounds Virginia permits. To be granted a divorce based on said grounds, the grounds must be proven.


Adultery is one of the most common grounds of an at-fault divorce a spouse will pursue. It is important to know that this is also one of the most difficult types of grounds to prove. Clear and convincing evidence must be submitted to the court before it will entertain granting a divorce on grounds of adultery.

Evidence can include the admission of adultery by one spouse, clear evidence of messages exchanged with another party that indicates adultery, and photos or videos taken that clearly demonstrate adultery has taken place and one party engaged in relations outside of the marriage. Furthermore, in Virginia, if adultery can be proven, it can act as a bar to claims for spousal support.


In Virginia, cruelty means physical abuse or bodily harm. To pursue a divorce on grounds of cruelty, the petitioner must prove the physical abuse happened in more than one instance in most situations. Acts of violence and conduct that put the petitioner’s life in danger either from a safety or health standpoint can help a judge finding grounds of cruelty. Other events, including abusive language, neglect, or humiliating statements are also often considered in determining grounds of divorce based on cruelty.

Willful Desertion or Abandonment

Willful desertion or abandonment is looked upon very differently in Virginia than a separation. To file for divorce based on these types of grounds, the petitioner must demonstrate their spouse left the marital home, with the intent to desert their spouse and their financial obligations, for a period of at least one year. However, there are some exemptions. For instance, if a spouse flees with their children out of fear of abuse, this will not be considered as abandoning the home since safety issues were involved or if a spouse leaves the home after the parties have separated, it is not desertion as the parties had been separated before. However, if a person left on their own accord with the intend to desert, cut off all ties and does not return, the petitioning spouse can file for divorce based on grounds of their spouse’s abandonment of the marriage and its home.

Criminal Conviction of a Felony

A criminal conviction based on a felony charge that is accompanied by one year or more of jail time is grounds for an at-fault divorce in Virginia. If one spouse is incarcerated for at least a year, the other spouse can use this as grounds to file for divorce.

Before pursuing any type of at-fault divorce in Virginia, it is a good idea to speak with a knowledgeable and experienced Fairfax family law attorney. Your lawyer will carefully examine the specifics relating to your case and determine if an at-fault divorce is the right avenue for you to pursue and will serve in the best interests of you and your family.

Why Does the Fairfax Circuit Court Handle Divorce Hearings?

The Fairfax Circuit Court has the ability to try both criminal and civil cases. In Virginia, the Circuit Courts are the appropriate forums to handle family law matters including divorce, wills and estates, and controversies involving property.

How Are Assets Handled in a Divorce in Fairfax?

Couples are permitted to come to their own agreement regarding a fair division of assets during the divorce process. However, if they cannot resolve the issues and make decisions on their own, a judge will make the decision for them. The Commonwealth of Virginia applies the equitable distribution system under Va. Code Ann. § 20-107.3 (B) to divide marital assets. The Court also equitably distributes any joint debt incurred during the course of the marriage. Factors considered include:

  • Each party’s earning capacity
  • All marital assets involved
  • Length of the marriage
  • Each spouse’s age
  • Each spouse’s mental and physical condition
  • An individual’s monetary and non-monetary role in the marriage*
  • Financial contributions made during the marriage
  • Each spouse’s debts and liabilities
  • Any at-fault causes leading to the marriage’s demise

*Non-monetary contributions may include home maintenance, childcare, homemaking, and other unpaid work.

Separate assets brought into the marriage by either spouse, along with gifts and inheritances, are usually not subject to be divided in a divorce situation. It is important to understand that in Virginia, once a judge determines the division of assets, the decision is final and there may not be a 50/50 distribution. Having an experienced Fairfax family law attorney at your side can significantly improve your chances of a fair and equitable division.

Do You Have to Pay Alimony in Fairfax, Virginia?

In Virginia, alimony can be ordered on an indefinite basis or for a defined duration. For one spouse to receive spousal support, it must be awarded at the time of divorce and not pursued after the divorce is finalized.

When determining financial matters and division of assets, alimony is considered separately. The court will determine alimony is appropriate – and if so – how much. A court may order alimony to help the recipient spouse be able to live the lifestyle they did while in the marriage.

How Will Hiring A Fairfax Lawyer Benefit Me in a Divorce?

Technically, you could represent yourself in a divorce, but for most people, this is a bad idea, especially since the outcome is likely to impact your entire future. If you were facing a case where you would need criminal defense, would you hire a lawyer? Chances are you would say yes. It really is no different when it comes to considering family law services. You want to understand the law and ensure you protect yourself.

Employing the legal services of a professional lawyer during a divorce offers you many benefits, especially if you are facing a contested divorce case or you and your spouse cannot agree on specific issues. An experienced lawyer can offer:

  • Valuable applicable knowledge to help you navigate Virginia’s complex divorce law
  • Objective advice about sensitive matters and how to approach resolution without emotion getting in the way
  • Good solutions to divorce matters that you may not have otherwise considered
  • Acting as your voice and advocate in court or when negotiating terms with your spouse’s attorney
  • The ability to collect evidence in at-fault divorces to make certain all requirements are met

Overall, having an experienced divorce lawyer by your side not only reduces your stress, but they can also work diligently to present all the important details a judge will need to come to a fair decision when granting your divorce. Your divorce lawyer can act as your advocate and staunchly pursue a favorable divorce agreement. With more than 200 years of combined years of experience in family law, our Northern Virginia-based attorneys at ShounBach are well-versed in Virginia law and want to help you move forward.

Easing the Divorce Process for Couples Since 1975

ShounBach is a premier family law firm in Northern Virginia that has dedicated itself to serving Fairfax residents since 1975. Our family law divorce lawyers have the experience and courtroom power to effectively advocate for you whether you are seeking an uncontested, contested divorce, or military divorce.

We know how important your divorce case is to you, and we promise to make every effort to get you a settlement and resolution that helps you move forward with your new life after your divorce is settled. If you have other matters that require legal assistance, such as estate planning or prenuptial agreements, our lawyers are also highly experienced in these and other practice areas of family law.

We are passionate about helping individuals and families resolve family law matters with the best possible outcome. To learn more about how our Fairfax, VA divorce lawyers can help you, call us today at 703-222-3333 or send us a note through our convenient online contact form. A member of our law office team will get back to you right away to set up a case evaluation. Our office is firmly committed to providing you with the best legal professional service found in Fairfax County.

Don’t Navigate This Process Alone

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Fairfax Office
(Main Office)

4000 Legato Road, Suite 400
Fairfax, VA 22033

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107 E. Market Street,
Leesburg, VA 20176

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The information on this website is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this site should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship.
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