When do I need a Virginia Divorce Lawyer?

When a case is filed or needs to be filed in the Circuit Court (the only court that can grant you a final divorce or divide your property), you need a lawyer.

A lawyer can also be useful in visitation, custody and support cases in the Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court.

It is imperative that you contact an attorney immediately if you are served with papers. If you miss a deadline, you can lose your rights. Never fail to appear in court if you receive a summons. Also, always pick up your certified mail. Ignoring it will not make it go away.

How long do I have to live in Virginia before I can file for divorce?

Six months. This can be the result of a voluntary relocation to Virginia or pursuant to valid military orders.

How long do I have to be separated before divorce can be finalized?

One year if there are children under 18 years of age or if there is no written agreement. Six months with no children under 18 and a written agreement.

The Complaint for divorce, however, can be filed prior to the expiration of this period if there are fault grounds claimed.

Can I get an annulment instead of a divorce?

Annulments are rarely granted in Virginia. You can’t get an annulment just because you changed your mind or have been married for a short period of time. You can only have one if all of the following are true:

  1. You have been married for less than two years, and
  2. You can prove that there was fraud or duress, your spouse was impotent at the time of marriage, had been convicted of a felony prior to the marriage, parented a child outside the marriage within ten months of the date of marriage, or had been a prostitute prior to the marriage, and
  3. You never knew this information prior to the marriage and never cohabited with your spouse after learning this information.

If you do qualify for an annulment, you still need to file a Complaint in court and get a court order annulling the marriage.