Falls Church, located near Washington, D.C. and surrounded by Fairfax County, is a small city located in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Covering an area of just 2.2 square miles with a population of about 15,000, this city has roughly 5,600 households. Just like any community, there are people in Falls Church who need assistance with the divorce process and other legal matters that greatly impact families. ShounBach is a leading Virginia family law and estate planning/administration firm that offers solutions tailored to fit your family’s future.
Divorce can be a heart-wrenching, difficult, and complex event that can drain you physically and emotionally. This can be true even if a divorce is something one truly wants. The attorneys at ShounBach are able to assist with all types of divorce, such as divorces handled through mediation, litigation, and military divorce. We can also assist with a broad range of other family-related legal issues. To obtain a consultation, call ShounBach at 703-222-3333.
In Virginia, a couple must separate for at least six months before pursuing divorce. If children were born of the marriage, the timeframe is one year. You do not need to file any forms for separation as there is no “legal separation” in Virginia. In order to be divorced based on having been separated, however, you must meet the separation requirements. Divorce requires you to file a Complaint for Divorce, which outlines details about you, your spouse, marriage, children, any current military affiliation, and the reason why you want a divorce.
In Virginia, 31 judicial circuits with 120 separate circuit courts spread geographically throughout the state make up the circuit court system. Circuit Courts have the ability to try both criminal and civil cases, along with those that are more private in nature. A jury is provided for Circuit Court hearings. Depending on where you live in Falls Church, your case may be heard in Arlington County Circuit Court or Fairfax County Circuit Court.
Although Virginia still permits divorce based on “fault,” you are also able to obtain a divorce in Virginia based on “no-fault,” which means you have lived separately and apart during the statutory time frame. This means couples can file for divorce without needing a reason. However, when two spouses have a wide divide due to events occurring in the marriage, they can pursue a fault-based divorce. If you or your spouse is considering this route, Virginia limits fault to four different grounds which must be proven before a grounds-based divorce is granted.
If unfaithfulness occurs in the marriage, adultery is grounds for a fault-based divorce. If you (or your spouse) allege adultery, you must provide clear and convincing evidence of an affair for the court to grant a divorce based on adultery. Evidence may be in the form of:
Adultery is one of the most common grounds people decide to pursue; however, it is also one of the hardest to prove.
Virginia defines cruelty as physical abuse or bodily harm. In most situations, a person pursuing cruelty as grounds for divorce must prove more than one instance of physical abuse. The petitioner must demonstrate their spouse was violent, putting their safety or health in danger. The court may consider other actions, such as neglect, verbal abuse, or humiliating statements when deciding on an at-fault divorce based on cruelty.
The Commonwealth perceives willful desertion (also referred to as abandonment) very differently than it does separation. A spouse could file for a divorce based on abandonment if their spouse left the marital home and ceased meeting their financial obligations. Desertion can be difficult to prove as you have to be able to prove the intent of the other party. Under willful desertion grounds, the court does allow an exception if a spouse leaves home due to fears of abuse because of the safety issues present.
For a spouse to pursue criminal conviction of a felony as divorce grounds, their spouse’s sentencing must be a period of incarceration for one year or longer.
If you want to pursue an at-fault divorce in Falls Church, you should speak with an experienced family law attorney who is well-versed in Virginia law. Your divorce lawyer can carefully look at the details of your case and determine if there are grounds for an at-fault divorce.
Divorce is not as simple as getting a marriage dissolved; there are different ways to approach this difficult process. In Falls Church, Virginia, you can obtain either a contested or uncontested divorce. It is important to understand the intricacies of each because a contested divorce is much more complicated than an uncontested divorce.
A contested divorce can stem from a dispute about the conditions of the marriage, one spouse does not want a divorce, or due to fault-based grounds. Usually, a contested divorce occurs when two spouses cannot reach an agreement on terms when ending their legal partnership.
In the Commonwealth of Virginia, the petitioning spouse wanting to pursue a fault-based divorce must prove at least one of the four grounds for divorce. A contested divorce generally leads to a trial procedure. This is not a simple process and can be draining, both emotionally and financially, since finalizing a contested divorce can potentially take up to two years.
An uncontested divorce is much more straightforward. When both spouses agree on terms regarding their divorce, they can quickly resolve all issues relating to child custody, child visitation, child support, property division, and any other pertinent details relating to assets and debts. The process of an uncontested divorce is less difficult and resolves quickly, taking approximately one to three months from start to finish if the parties have been separated for the statutory time frame (i.e. six months if there are no minor children and one year if there are).
After a judge signs the divorce decree, this dissolves the marriage.
Virginia uses the equitable distribution system to divide marital assets when spouses cannot come to an amicable agreement on their own. Equitable distribution factors in all assets, liabilities, and debts occurring in the marriage. Other factors the court considers include:
The court can not divide a party’s separate property, which includes assets owned by either party prior to the wedding date. This also applies to assets acquired during the marriage as gifts or inheritances. The court may have other limitations as well; a skilled divorce attorney can determine if you have assets that do not need to be a part of equitable distribution.
Because Virginia is an equitable distribution state, the judge is not required to divide the assets 50/50. Instead, they weigh the factors above and determine what they believe is a fair division of assets. Generally speaking, this decision is final.
Virginia is specific about the processes involving alimony. One spouse can receive an alimony award indefinitely or on a temporary basis. The award is normally determined by the judge who is finalizing the divorce but a spouse can also file a petition to determine spousal support in a juvenile and domestic relations district court. However, if you go through a divorce and do not request alimony, you cannot request to receive it in the future. Alimony is also not taken into consideration during the division of marital assets.
Theoretically, a person can represent themselves in a Falls Church divorce, but in almost all instances, these individuals regret this decision. The benefits of working with a knowledgeable divorce lawyer are numerous, especially for contested divorces. A divorce decree is final, and the stipulations a court outlines will affect your entire future.
Family law is not unlike a criminal defense in this respect; you want someone by your side who will advocate for you and protect your best interests. Divorce attorneys can help in many ways.
Working with an attorney also reduces the stress associated with divorce cases. As one of the largest law firms in Virginia dedicated to practicing family law, when you work with ShounBach, you can have peace of mind you are working with attorneys who have a wealth of knowledge and experience in their field. We offer legal services for child custody, child support, spousal support, property division, prenuptial agreements, separation, domestic violence, adoption, collaborative divorce, and other practice areas.
If you are facing the difficult decision to pursue a Virginia divorce, the ShounBach divorce lawyers serving Falls Church are backed by more than 200 collective years of experience. Furthermore, our firm is well-established and has been around for over 40 years.
At ShounBach, we have lawyers who have been recognized time and again as top-tier family law attorneys in Northern Virginia and have been recognized by the Washingtonian and the Northern Virginia Magazine. We have attorneys who achieve rankings by AV Preeminent® by Martindale-Hubbell®, meaning they have the highest rating offered by the organization. Our attorneys also land on the Best Lawyers in America® list and SuperLawyers.
Each of these professional honors requires the lawyer to be given top ratings by their professional peers. Martindale-Hubbell® and U.S. News and World Report have also consistently recognized us as a U.S. top-ranked law firm.
Each of our legal professionals has a unique passion to help the individuals and families that they help in a wide range of subsections in family law. From international custody to the more ancillary matters, such as spousal support modification, we know how important your family law case is to you, and this fuels every move we make in your favor. We will not rest until your best interests are protected.
To obtain a consultation, call the VA divorce lawyers at ShounBach at 703-222-3333 or complete our online contact form to speak with a member of our law office.