For over 20 years The Law Office of James J. McCoart, III, has represented clients in divorce cases. Divorce in Virginia is either a contested or uncontested divorce.
- A contested divorce is where the spouses cannot come to an agreement about one or more key issues related to the divorce.Such issues must usually be settled through the courts.
- An uncontested divorce occurs when the spouses do agree on every item and issue related to the termination of their union. The process may not necessarily be amicable, but no issues need to be resolved through the courts.
A Virginia divorce action is commenced by the filing of a Complaint for Divorce in the Circuit Court only. The Complaint for Divorce should state a claim for each type of relief sought from the Court. Claims for relief may concern the following:
- Child Custody and Visitation
- Child Support
- Spousal Support
- Equitable distribution of property and other relief under Virginia Code Section §20-107.3
- Change of name to maiden or former name.
The legal grounds for a final divorce, or divorce a vinculo matrimonii, include the following:
- A separation of six months, if the parties have no minor children and have entered into a separation agreement
- A separation of 12 months
- Felony conviction and confinement in excess of one year
- Cruelty or causing “reasonable apprehension of bodily hurt” after a period of one year from the date of the acts
- Willful desertion or abandonment after a period of one year from the date of the act.
If a party to a divorce action has been “at fault” in the dissolution of the marriage, such behavior and/or actions may have an effect on the Court’s decision making. Often times a contested divorce can take a long time to get to a Final Hearing before the Court. This is why many times in a divorce action a party will request the Court to grant him or her temporary relief pending a Final Hearing . Virginia Code Section §20-103 recognizes this temporary relief as “Pendente Lite” relief. The term “Pendente Lite” is latin for “pending the suit.” In other words, the Court has authority to make certain decisions before the divorce case is heard at a Final Hearing. The “Pendente Lite” relief that is available is the following:
- To compel a spouse to pay any sums necessary for the maintenance and support of the petitioning spouse, including an order that the other spouse provide health care coverage for the petitioning spouse, unless it is shown that such coverage cannot be obtained;
- To enable a spouse to carry on the suit;
- To prevent either spouse from imposing any restraint on the personal liberty of the other spouse;
- To provide for the custody and maintenance of the minor children of the parties, including an order that either party
- provide health care coverage for the children;
- To provide support for any child of the parties to whom a duty of support is owed and to continue to support any child.over the age of 18 who meets the requirements set forth in section §20-124.2 (C);
- For the exclusive use and possession of the family residence during the pendency of the suit;
- To preserve the estate of either spouse, so that it will be forthcoming to meet any decree which may be made in the suit; and
- To compel either spouse to give security to abide by such decree
In addition to the forms of relief described above, the court can enter an order excluding a party’s family or household member from the jointly owned or jointly rented family dwelling upon a showing of reasonable apprehension of physical harm. If you are interested in discussing your divorce matter with an experienced attorney, then contact The Law Office of James J. McCoart, III, by telephone (703) 369-2734, or email.