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Divorce Law in Virginia

How to Find a Virginia Divorce Attorney

About 30,000 divorces are filed annually in the Commonwealth of Virginia. When you’re going through a really tough time, does it help you to know others have been through the same thing and have felt what you may be feeling?

There are many well-known Virginians who have been through divorce: June Carter Cash, Patsy Cline, Elizabeth Edwards, and Shirley MacLaine. You can probably others to this list.

If you are considering divorce and are researching Virginia divorce lawyers, this article is for you.

In this article (which is based upon Virginia divorce law), we’ll discuss:

  • Virginia specific divorce law requirements;
  • What you need to know about divorce, in general;
  • Whether it’s in your best interest to hire a Virginia divorce attorney;
  • How to find and select a qualified divorce lawyer; and
  • How to prepare to work with your lawyer.

Virginia Divorce Law Specifics

  • In general, you can file divorce papers in the county where you and your spouse resided together or where your spouse now resides.
  • Virginia law requires that divorce filings cite the grounds for divorce.
    “No-fault” and “fault” are available.
    • No fault is appropriate if you and your spouse have been living apart for at least one year or, if you have no joint minor children, have reached a settlement agreement, and have lived apart for at least 6 months.
    • Fault may be appropriate if there have been bad acts such as adultery, felony conviction, abuse and cruelty, or desertion.
  • Unfortunately, Virginia divorce law terms, which identify you and your spouse, are archaic and the terms, “plaintiff” and “defendant” are used.
  • Divorce filings are made in the Circuit Court, Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court, or Family Court.
  • Property distribution will be equitable, which means, “fair”, not necessarily equal.
  • Spousal support (i.e. alimony) may be awarded in some cases and child support in based upon the Income Shares Model.

What You Need to Know About Divorce in a Nutshell

If you want to get through your divorce with some semblance of dignity, sanity, and cash, here’s how to do it.

  • Get good legal advice and hire a divorce lawyer who will work cooperatively and encourage you and your spouse to work out a marital settlement agreement.
  • Keep in mind that if you cooperate, compromise, and follow your attorney’s direction, you will pay lower legal fees and get more of what you want in the divorce.
  • Going to court is a complete loss of control, further antagonizes all parties involved, causes increased stress, and costs a lot of money.
  • Remember that your divorce lawyer and your children are not your therapists.

Is it in Your Best Interests to Work with a Virginia Divorce Lawyer?

Of course it is. After all, your future, children, finances, and sense of well being are at stake. Think about what just one or two mistakes could cost you; and, if you give up marital rights during your divorce, you can’t go back and assert them later.

Even attorneys who go through divorce hire their own divorce lawyers.

How to Find and Select a Virginia Divorce Attorney

For quick and easy results, Google “How to Find a Virginia Divorce Attorney” or ask friends and family for referrals.

Narrow the list of potential attorneys down to those licensed in the Commonwealth of Virginia who focus their practice on divorce and family law.

Then, interview attorneys with whom you may want to work and ask:

  • If the attorney is experienced in working collaboratively.
  • If he or she will answer your questions and let you know how best to communicate with him or her.
  • If he or she will help you keep your legal fees and stress level to a minimum.

It’s okay to ask about fees, time frame, what you can expect, and whatever else is on your mind. Choose the attorney you feel most comfortable with.

How to Prepare to Work with Your Divorce Attorney

Most of the work in preparing to work and actually working with your divorce attorney is mental and emotional. The more you can keep it together, the lower your legal fees and the more you’ll get what you want. Really.

(Of course, there’s some paperwork also.)

  • Consider reconciliation. Is your marriage truly irretrievably broken? What if your anger vanishes in 2 weeks or 2 months? Divorce will always be an option; there’s no requirement that you take action right this minute.
  • Meet with a therapist. Everyone needs someone to talk to when going through tremendous change. Don’t use your children or your divorce lawyer as a therapist.
  • Practice the 4cs. Cooperation, communication, collaboration, and compromise are key to getting what you want and keeping legal fees to a minimum. The more you say “yes”, the more you’ll actually gain.
  • Gather financial documentation. You’ll need to have income, expense, debt, and asset information.
  • Make a wish list. Jot down everything you would like in the divorce regarding finances, terms, and your children. Star** the items that are your top priority.
  • Make a question list. Keep track of all of your questions and concerns to address with your lawyer during your next telephone conference.

If you are considering divorce, you’re definitely not alone. You have friends and family; you can hire a highly skilled divorce attorney and therapist; and about two million people in the United States get divorced each year.

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