This article is meant to explain the differences between contested and uncontested divorces in Virginia, as well as to give a little bit of insight into what needs to happen to get an uncontested divorce
In order for the divorce to be considered an “uncontested divorce”, the parties must be in total agreement as to every issue in the case. If there is one single issue that the parties cannot agree on, the case is contested until that issue is resolved either by negotiation between the parties, or being decided by the court. Issues that can cause a case to become contested include everything from the grounds for the divorce (i.e., adultery or cruelty) to what will happen after the divorce (i.e., who will have custody of the children, whether spousal support will be paid, who will be awarded possession of the marital home, etc.).
To obtain an uncontested divorce in Virginia, you must first have “grounds” for the divorce. In Virginia the most common grounds for an uncontested divorce are the “no-fault” grounds: (1) separation for a year, or (2) separation for 6 months, with a signed separation agreement and no minor children born of the couple. “Separation” simply means living separate apart with at least one of the parties having the intention that the marriage be ended by the separation. There is no such thing as “filing for separation” in Virginia. Once the above requirements are met, you are “legally separated” in Virginia Courts. A “Separation Agreement” is a written contract where the parties agree on the date of separation and the terms (i.e., support, custody, etc.). It is important to note that even if both parties agree to the divorce, the above grounds must still be met to the court’s satisfaction, or the divorce will not be granted.