The Basics of Divorce in Virginia

Legally divorcing in Norfolk, Chesapeake, Virginia Beach or anywhere in Virginia requires that either you or your spouse be a resident of Virginia or a member of the armed forces stationed in Virginia for six months.

To obtain an uncontested divorce, either spouse can file for divorce provided the two parties have lived separate and apart for at least one year, and the divorce papers claim that irreconcilable differences have caused a breakdown in the marriage.  If the couple does not have children, the spouses can enter into a separation agreement and receive their divorce after being separated for only six months.

For a contested divorce, if the spouses are separated less than one year and are not in agreement that a divorce should occur, the spouse seeking a divorce must prove specific grounds for divorce.

The Divorce Process

While it is not legally required that you consult or retain a divorce lawyer before you initiate proceedings, it is highly recommended. This is a major step in your life and you want to be sure you have the benefit of legal knowledge and experience.

To begin the divorce process in Virginia, a party files a Complaint for Divorce with the Circuit Court.  After the other spouse is served with the papers, there is a set time to respond.  Provided the parties agree on issues such as property and debt division, child custody, and child support matters, the divorce can be obtained without going through a trial.  However, when the parties cannot agree, the court sets a future date for a hearing.

Marital Property, Child Custody, and Support in Virginia

In Virginia, assets and debts acquired after your marriage generally are considered to be marital property that is subject to equitable and fair distribution.  The court looks at a number of factors in determining how to distribute marital property.   Alimony is called maintenance in Virginia.  The court has the authority to order alimony at its discretion.  Unless the spouses come to an agreement, a court in Virginia makes child custody decisions based on what is in the best interest of the child.  Child support in Virginia is based on the combined gross income of the parents and the number of children that must be supported.

An attorney in Virginia Beach can provide the additional information you need about any element of a Virginia divorce.

Speak to our firm for knowledgeable and compassionate divorce advice

Are you seeking divorce help in Norfolk?  Do you have questions about how to file divorce in Virginia Beach or Chesapeake?  Please schedule a confidential consultation by calling us at or contacting us online.