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Divorce Law

There is perhaps no life experience that carries as much emotional turbulence, upheaval, and grief as divorce. Your divorce may affect your children, your income, and your living situation. Your life as you know it is about to change. It can all be overwhelming, but it does not have to be.

With Norfolk divorce attorneys, Montagna Law, at your side, your divorce will be handled with compassion and care by a team of aggressive lawyers that will get the best possible outcome from a difficult period of your life. We have years of experience with divorce and the compassion to help you navigate one of life’s most difficult transition periods.

Why Montagna Law?
  • Over 50 years of experience
  • A proven track record of helping 100s of families find the best outcomes.
  • Our attorneys give hands-on, dedicated, and compassionate legal service.
  • Certified mediation experts
  • A knowledgeable, resourceful, caring, and aggressive team
We will protect your rights. Request a free consultation.

Table of Contents:

The Divorce Process in Virginia

Circuit Court hears all Virginia divorce cases. One of the spouses must have been a resident of Virginia for at least six months in order to file for divorce. 

A divorce case starts with the filing of a Bill of Complaint which must be served upon the other spouse who is then given the opportunity to respond to the Bill of Complaint. The case then moves to the discovery phase and then to trial. Most divorce cases settle before it goes to trial and can go to mediation to try and reach a settlement. 

The divorce process can take six months to more than a year to complete depending on whether you and your spouse can reach a settlement. 

A divorce case decides all of the issues involved in ending a marriage:

  • Custody
    Custody issues concerning children of the marriage are decided by the judge or agreed to by the parties through a settlement agreement. Custody determines how the parents will share time with the children and who the children will live in.
  • Child support
    Child support is paid by one parent to the other to help satisfy the child’s needs and maintain their standard of living following the divorce or separation.
  • Alimony
    Alimony payments are made by one spouse to the other during or after the divorce to help the spouse regain his or her financial footing.
  • Property distribution
    The court divides assets and debts of the marriage so that the spouses can live their separate lives once their marriage ends.

You need to consult with an attorney to ensure you understand all of your rights and trust those rights will be protected throughout the entire divorce process. Our divorce lawyers are ready to discuss your case with you and offer our extensive legal advice.

Types of Divorce in Virginia

Virginia law recognizes two types of divorce:

Divorce from bed and board and a divorce from the bond of matrimony.

A divorce from bed and board is a partial or qualified divorce under which the parties are legally separated but not permitted to remarry. A divorce from the bond of matrimony is a complete and absolute divorce. Any person that is granted a divorce from bed and board may ask the court to “merge” the decree into a divorce from the bond of matrimony after at least one year has passed from the date the parties originally separated.

The law requires that grounds – valid reasons for divorce established by law – for divorce must exist and be proven to the court even if both parties agree that the marriage should end. These grounds are briefly described below.

Divorce from Bed and Board

Willful desertion or abandonment

Desertion or abandonment requires both the breaking of cohabitation and an intent to desert. A mere separation by mutual consent will not be classified as desertion.

If desertion grounds exist, a suit for a divorce from bed and board may be filed with the court immediately after the separation. If the desertion continues for more than one year from the date the parties originally separated, the desertion is sufficient ground for divorce from the bond of matrimony.

Cruelty and reasonable apprehension of bodily harm

Cruelty authorizing divorce requires acts that tend to cause bodily harm and render the spouses living together unsafe. Mental cruelty alone is not generally grounds for divorce in Virginia. However, if the conduct is such that it affects and endangers the mental or physical health of the divorce-seeking spouse, it may be sufficient grounds for divorce.

Cruelty constitutes the basis for a divorcee from bed and board and can be filed immediately after the two parties separate. After one year has elapsed from the time the acts of cruelty were committed, grounds will exist for a divorce from the bond of matrimony.

Divorce from the Bond of Matrimony

Separation divorce – the “No-Fault” divorce

While grounds for divorce traditionally implied misconduct by one or both spouses, modern divorce laws do not require “fault” grounds for a divorce to be granted. A “no-fault” divorce from the bond of matrimony may be rewarded after the parties have spent one year living separately without any cohabitation.

Adultery, sodomy, or buggery

Proving adulty requires that the evidence is strict, satisfactory, and conclusive that the other spouse did in fact engage in sexual relations with another person. Most cases of adultery can be proven without eyewitness testimony by using other evidence of the circumstances.

Sodomy, as a grounds for divorce, is a sexual act outside of intercourse that is committed with someone outside the marriage.

Buggery is bestiality or a sexual act against nature and carries the same standard of proof as adultery. Suspicion or speculation is not sufficient.

The spouse guilty of adultery, sodomy, or buggery has a number of defenses they can use against these charges and if they can do so successfully, then a divorcee will not be awarded on these grounds.

Conviction of a felony

If a spouse has been convicted of a felony, sentenced to confinement for more than one year, and is in fact confined, the other party has grounds for a divorce from the bond of matrimony as long as he or she does not resume cohabitation with the guilty spouse after knowledge of the confinement.

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How Much Will My Divorce Cost?

The cost of a divorce is determined by a multitude of factors from the complexity of the case to whether or not the issues in the case are contested. An uncontested divorce naturally costs less than a contested divorce. In other words, the more adversarial the divorce, the more expensive it will be in the long run. 

In addition to attorney fees, you will also have the expense of court filing fees and other expenses incurred over the duration of the divorce. For example, if your state laws require you to choose a Divorce Mediator, you and your spouse are responsible for those costs. If there are large assets to split, a business or property, for example, you may need the assistance of a Divorce Financial Analyst, another cost you and your spouse are responsible for.

What Is An Uncontested Divorce?

Uncontested divorce cases are relatively straightforward, once you and your spouse reach an agreement. In the state of Virginia, parties with no minor children must have a written separation agreement and be separated for 6 months prior to initiating a divorce case. If the parties have minor children, they must observe a separation period of 1 year prior to filing a divorce case. 

The only no-fault grounds for divorce in Virginia is separation which entails a physical separation of both parties. Once the parties physically separate with the intent to permanently remain separated, the criteria have been met. 

The procedure for obtaining a divorce is dependent upon whether or not the parties have a written separation agreement. If everything is resolved including property division, debt division, and all custody and support issues, an affidavit divorce may be the fastest way to finalize the case. If some or all of the issues are not resolved, the court will need to schedule a contested hearing.

Why Choose Montagna Law for Your Divorce?

If you realize that your marriage is broken beyond repair and you believe that divorce is the best option for you and your spouse, you need to speak with an experienced lawyer who can help you through this painful time. Divorce can have effects far beyond the ending of a legal relationship – it may involve determining your rights to child support, child custody, property division, and alimony. 

The legal team at Montagna Law is highly knowledgeable and experienced in the field of family law in Norfolk, Virginia. Let us guide you through this difficult time in your life and work toward a positive outcome on all issues involved.

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