Domestic Relations FAQs

What is a no-fault divorce?

A no-fault divorce is based on a passage of time after the parties have separated with the intent to remain permanently separated. A no-fault divorce does not allege a fault ground such as adultery, desertion or cruelty. The parties are eligible for a no-fault divorce after a six month period of separation if they have no minor children together and they have a signed property settlement agreement which resolves all the issues arising out of their separation. The parties must wait twelve months for a no-fault divorce if they have minor children together, regardless whether they have a property settlement agreement or not.

How long does it take to become divorced?

An uncontested no-fault divorce takes approximately 45 days to complete once the period of separation has been met as set out above. If the divorce is contested, which means there are issues of fault, custody, visitation, child and spousal support or property division, there is no way to estimate how long it would take to complete the divorce. If the divorce is a highly complex case, it is not unusual for the case to take 2 to 3 years to be resolved.

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

For a no-fault divorce you need to have been separated for 6 months if you have no minor children with your spouse and you have a signed property settlement agreement. If you have minor children with your spouse, you must wait 12 months before you can file for a no-fault divorce. A contested divorce based on a fault ground can be filed any time after the occurrence of the fault, such as the act of adultery, abandonment, act of violence or other qualifying act.

How is child support determined?

Child support is determined by statutory guidelines found in the Code of Virginia. These guidelines are presumed to be correct, but can be rebutted under extraordinary circumstances.

Can child custody, visitation and support be modified?

The Court retains the authority during a child‘s minority to modify child custody, visitation and support based on material change of circumstances and what is in the best interest of the child. Parents cannot make child custody, visitation and child support non-modifiable because the Court always retains the authority to modify child custody, visitation and child support based what is in the then best interest of the minor child.