Deciding to dissolve a marriage is a difficult choice for many couples. It can be even harder to execute that decision in a court of law, especially without guidance from a legal professional. Virginia treats divorce somewhat differently than many other states, and numerous requirements and restrictions could impede someone’s ability to pursue a divorce effectively.
Even if both you and your partner agree that a divorce is necessary, you should strongly consider retaining a Richmond divorce lawyer to help you plan out your separation and address any disputes that arise. Assistance from a dedicated family attorney is often crucial to effectively manage the various issues that have to be dealt with during the divorce process.
If a couple wants to seek a divorce in Richmond, they have the option of pursuing either a “divorce from bed and board” or a “divorce from the bond of matrimony.” These two options are equivalent to what other states respectively call “legal separation” and “absolute divorce,” although Virginia state law enforces some additional conditions on both of these procedures.
First, a couple may seek divorce from bed and board based on two different grounds: willful and intentional abandonment, or excessive cruelty causing a legitimate fear of bodily harm. Once such a divorce is granted, the two parties are considered legally separated for financial and custody purposes. They cannot marry anyone else because their original marriage is still technically in effect. A divorce from bed and board can be converted into a divorce from the bond of matrimony after one year of separation, or six months from the date of separation if the couple does not have any minor children together and have executed a property settlement agreement.
A divorce from the bond of matrimony formally and permanently dissolves a marriage, allowing both parties to remarry if they wish. A seasoned Richmond lawyer can help someone seek this type of divorce based on various fault-based grounds such as adultery, desertion, cruelty, or conviction and incarceration for a felony offense; or on no-fault grounds if the parties have remained separated for a certain amount of time.
Before a couple can even file for divorce, they must meet numerous criteria established under state law. For instance, they must have lived in Virginia for at least six months prior to filing and they must file with a court in the county or city where at least one of them resided. Various circumstances can add additional eligibility requirements, all of which a seasoned divorce lawyer in Richmond can help navigate successfully.
Once the divorce process is underway, guidance from legal counsel often becomes especially important. They can negotiate on an individual’s behalf and advocate for their best interests in matters such as child custody, financial support for children and/or a former spouse, and division of marital property. Finally, an attorney can make sure a final divorce decree is fair and equitable to the person who retained them. Under certain circumstances, they could help a spouse seek to modify one or more terms of the divorce in the future, if necessary.
Getting a divorce can be confusing and exhausting both legally and emotionally, even if it is the right thing for you and your spouse to do. Furthermore, if you do not have a skilled legal professional helping to protect your best interests, you may find yourself dealing with terms of separation that favor your spouse’s desires over your own, or a court-ordered arrangement that leaves neither of you happy.
No matter what your circumstances are, hiring a Richmond divorce lawyer is a wise decision when it comes to pursuing and finalizing any kind of divorce. Call today to set up your first consultation and start discussing your legal options.