In the state of Virginia there is no law stating you are "legally separated." A couple is either married or divorced. Although, the law requires couples seeking a divorce to live separately for 6 months to a year, depending on the circumstances.
A separation occurs when married people no longer live together as husband and wife. Under limited circumstances, a separation may occur even though the parties continue to reside physically in the same residence.
A separation agreement, or a stipulation agreement, or a property settlement agreement is a contract between married parties intending to separate or having already separated which does not dissolve a marriage in the eyes of the court. These are legal contracts that formally divide the marital property.
Under certain circumstances, the provisions of a divorce decree addressing child support, custody and visitation, and spousal support may be modified if the financial or living conditions of one of the parties changes significantly.
The most common post-divorce issues are related to increases or reductions of income of either of the parties. This would be pertinent to requests for revisions to spousal or child support.
Parental relocation's, altered living conditions of one of the parents, including co-habitation or remarriage would be applicable to changes in child custody or visitation schedules.
When modifying divorce decrees concerning custody or visitation of children, the best interests of the child is the overriding concern of the courts. We work closely with our clients seeking or defending post-divorce requests for modification to help them understand both the law and the likelihood of obtaining or opposing a modification.
Veteran Virginia Beach divorce lawyer Jennifer Oram-Smith is well qualified to represent you and your interests. Please contact us to schedule a confidential legal consultation at our office located near Town Center and Pembroke in Virginia Beach, VA.
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It is advantageous to have a separation agreement prepared by legal counsel because most people are not familiar with their rights or the laws, and lack even basic negotiating skills.
Negotiating terms of the agreement before filing for divorce permits your attorneys to negotiate and settle issues such as property division, child and pet custody, child support and spousal support during the mandatory six months to one year separation period. This will help avoid costly court litigation. Having a written agreement will allow parties with no minor children to obtain a final divorce after only six months of separation.
The terms of a separation agreement often permit spouses to continue to take advantage of health care and tax benefits. Once the separation period has elapsed, the signed separation agreement may be filed with the divorce papers so that the divorce is uncontested and very inexpensive compared to litigation costs of a contested divorce action without such an agreement.
There are two types of divorce; contested and uncontested, and a divorce is based on fault or no fault. Which means the grounds or basis on which a divorce has been filed. No fault means there is no blame placed on either party. In the case of a divorce based on fault, one party claims the other is the cause for the divorce. For example; infidelity, abuse, substance abuse, inability to resolve conflicts, etc.
What Is an Uncontested Divorce?
Uncontested divorce means you and your spouse agree on the terms of the separation. In the state of Virginia, an uncontested divorce requires you live apart from your spouse for one year. The time apart can be limited to six months if there are no minor children and you have a signed property settlement agreement. An uncontested divorce is possible when both husband and wife have reached an agreement on all of the issues involved in the divorce without going to trial. To obtain an uncontested divorce both parties must be in agreement on the following issues:
1. Division of property and assets, including pensions and retirement accounts, etc.
2. Division of debts
3. Custody and visitation of the children and/or pets (if any).
4. Child support
5. Spousal support
We can help you determine whether an uncontested divorce may be possible for you and what details should be included in any such agreement by consulting with you and analyzing your situation thoroughly. We can also help complete your name change as part of the final steps in your divorce.
A contested divorce is when the parties have not reached agreement on some or all of the issues. Often, there are misconceptions because of lack of knowledge about your rights and the law. In the state of Virginia, any property acquired during the marriage is considered "marital property" no matter whose name is on the asset or debt. We can negotiate with your spouse’s attorney to reach an equitable agreement concerning marital property division, custody issues involving children and or pets, and all other issues related to the dissolution of your marriage. The good news is the vast majority of divorce issues can be resolved before the final court hearing.
The collaborative method of divorce entails settling the terms of a marriage dissolution by cooperating in a non-adversarial approach. It entails both parties working together in a non-antagonistic manner by placing a high priority on obtaining the best outcome for the family, and negotiating for a "win-win" outcome. The goal is to avoid going to court, therefore collaborative divorce is usually faster, more cost effective and creates less pressure on the whole family.
Together, we can decide whether the collaborative divorce process, mediation, negotiation of settlement, arbitration, court litigation or some combination of these is advisable based upon your circumstances. Dissolving marriages can be complex, confusing and usually do require an experienced and skillful divorce attorney to decide the best approach.
Military service members and spouses are recommended to hire an attorney to help navigate the particulars of military divorce. We analyze each situation and develop creative legal solutions tailored to meet your specific needs and goals.
As a family law attorney in Virginia Beach, Ms. Oram-Smith specializes in advising clients about their legal options in all kinds of divorce scenarios for over 30 years. Since every situation is different, the process will depend on the details of your case, and our knowledge of your rights pertaining to the laws in Virginia will be invaluable in obtaining a favorable outcome for you and your family.
In some cases the state of Virginia provides for the appointment of a lawyer to serve as “guardian ad litem” for children in a divorce proceeding. This is to insure the rights of the child are represented.
The court shall appoint a competent attorney-at-law as guardian ad litem for any child who is alleged to be abused or neglected.
In all other cases, the court may appoint an attorney-at-law as guardian ad litem for a child if the court finds that the interests of the child are not otherwise adequately represented.
Ms. Oram-Smith is certified by the Virginia Supreme Court to serve as Guardian ad litem for children in custody and adoption cases.