Answering Common Questions About Divorce In Virginia
The attorneys at McClung & Associates understand how confusing and upsetting it can be when you are facing the end of your marriage. We strive to make your choices clear and understandable and to walk with you every step of the way during the divorce process.
Below are answers to questions we frequently hear in our practice. If you have additional questions about your divorce, call us in Henrico at 804-548-6565 or request an initial phone consultation to start your work with us.
Should I speak with an attorney if I’m thinking about getting a divorce?
Yes, hiring a divorce attorney is important, whether you are initiating the divorce or your spouse is. An experienced Virginia divorce lawyer can help you identify your goals for your children and yourself and map out a strategy to achieve these goals through negotiation or litigation.
What’s the difference between a contested divorce and an uncontested divorce?
An uncontested divorce is one in which you and your ex agree on all terms related to the divorce, including asset division, child custody, child/spousal support, and so on.
A contested divorce is one in which the parties disagree on one or more areas. This disagreement can be resolved in mediation, through informal negotiations, or by going to court and litigating the divorce.
How do I negotiate a divorce settlement if my ex and I don’t agree on everything?
If you and your ex do not agree to divorce terms right off the bat, consider mediation, where a neutral third party can work with both of you (and your attorneys) to find areas of common ground and ways to create a settlement you can both live with. This has the double advantage of keeping your divorce out of court and allowing you flexibility in developing a plan that suits your family’s circumstances.
What factors matter in determining child custody?
In Virginia, as in most states, the general answer to that question is “the best interests of the child.” But courts in Virginia specifically look at a range of factors to determine the best interest, including:
- Mental and physical health of both parents and the children
- Ages of the children
- The extent to which each parent has participated in the care of the children
- Willingness of each parent to support the other’s parenting role
- Each child’s unique developmental needs
- The preferences of the child (if they are old enough to express them)
- Any history of abuse or domestic violence within the family unit
How are child support and spousal support determined?
To determine the amount of child support, the court looks at Virginia’s Child Support Guidelines. Factors include the income of each parent, if one parent is paying the other spousal support, the day care and health care expenses of the child, and the living expenses of each of the parents.
For spousal support requests, the court takes into account the length of your marriage, the age, health and employment prospects of each party, as well as significant milestones such as how long would it take the requesting party to finish a professional degree program, or how long it will be before all minor children are in school.
A qualified family law attorney can explain child support and spousal support guidelines in detail and advise you on how to file or respond to a support request.
How long will my divorce take to be finalized?
If you are filing for an uncontested divorce, the process can be finished in one to two months. However, Virginia requires that you be separated from your ex for at least six months if you have no children together, and for 12 months if you do have children together, when filing for divorce.
A contested divorce, or a divorce “for cause” (such as cruelty or adultery) that will need to be litigated to resolve can take months or even years to settle.