Family Law FAQs
Is there a required separation period in Virginia before obtaining a divorce?
In Virginia, if you have a signed Property Settlement Agreement with your spouse and do not have minor children, you must be separated for a period over six months before you can file for divorce.
If you do not have a signed Property Settlement Agreement or you do have minor children, you can file for divorce once you have been separated for a period in excess of one year.
If you have fault grounds to file for divorce, the statutory separation period need not be met before filing. Please note that the time to ultimately obtain your divorce can be much longer if it is a contested divorce. With uncontested divorces, one can obtain his/her divorce within a couple of months from filing their Complaint for Divorce. For more information, please contact Safi, Duran & Chim, PLLC, to schedule a consultation.
If I wanted to pursue mediation to avoid having to have a court proceeding when obtaining a divorce, can you help me?
Yes! Couples can attend mediation with an attorney, to protect your interests. However, we advise our clients to have an attorney review any Property Settlement Agreement or Marital Settlement Agreement before they sign.
While mediation is a great process, efficient and cost-effective, the mediator cannot give you individual legal advice like your attorney can. This is why it is important to ensure an attorney can be present during your mediation in order to protect your interests. For more information, please contact Safi, Duran & Chim, PLLC to schedule a consultation.
Do Virginia Judges favor Mothers in custody proceedings?
Most Courts in Virginia often favor one parent having primary custody of the children, if that parent was the primary care-taker of the children during the marriage. If both parents shared in the upbringing of the children fairly equally during the marriage then the Court will consider this in determining whether to award a shared schedule or award one parent primary custody.
Do I need an attorney when I get divorced?
The path to divorce can be intricate and fraught with legal hurdles. It's crucial to have an attorney by your side to safeguard your rights and interests.
While it's theoretically possible to go through a divorce without legal representation, it's certainly not advisable. Our family law attorneys are here to provide you with sound advice, ensure all necessary paperwork is filed correctly, and represent your best interests during negotiations or in court.
How do I decide which attorney is right for me?
Choosing the right family law attorney is pivotal in navigating your legal issues effectively.
Look for someone with extensive experience in family law, as they will have a deep understanding of the law and experience in similar cases to yours. Consider the attorney's communication style to ensure it aligns with your preferences, whether you need someone who is agressive, straightforward, compassionate, or a combination of all.
Take into account their track record of success in cases similar to yours, and don’t hesitate to ask questions. Finally, assess their availability and ensure they’re able to give your case the attention it deserves. Remember, a good family law attorney is not just your legal advocate but also your guide during emotionally trying times.
What are the legal grounds for obtaining a divorce?
Legal grounds for obtaining a divorce vary depending on state laws but commonly include both fault-based and no-fault grounds. In no-fault divorce states, such as Virginia, a couple may divorce without the need to prove any wrongdoing by the other spouse.
The grounds for no-fault divorce are either separation for 6 months without children, or 1 year with children.
Fault-based divorces, on the other hand, require one spouse to prove the other's misconduct, which may include adultery, desertion, constructive desertion, cruelty, or abuse.
Is there anything I should NOT say during a custody battle?
During a custody battle, it's critical to be mindful of your words as they can significantly impact the outcome. Avoid making negative comments about the other parent, as this can be viewed negatively in court. Also, refrain from discussing the details of the case or any ongoing legal proceedings on social media or with friends and family.
Can a child choose who they want to live with?
Children can certainly express their preferences. The court may take their opinion into account in custody cases, but that's just one of many factors. The decision ultimately depends on what the court determines is in the best interest of the child.
Is Virginia a community property state?
No, Virginia is not a community property state, it is an "equitable distribution" state. Any income and any real or personal property acquired by either spouse during a marriage may be divided by a court depending on what is considered fair by a Judge, but not necessarily equally.
To ensure your property is protected, discuss your divorce case with a family law attorney.