Separation Anxiety: Preparing for Divorce
Getting a no-fault (uncontested) divorce sounds simple, but in practice it is not an easy undertaking. Besides likely already being in a fragile emotional state, there are conditions to be met and preparations to be made.
The first set of basic requirements are time and space. In DC, you need to be living separate and apart from your spouse for at least one year prior to filing your divorce complaint (papers). Virginia’s time is one year if you have children from the marriage, but only six months if you don’t have kids. “Separate and apart” means just that — you are not living together as husband and wife — which means (but is not limited to) having separate living arrangements, not going out together for social engagements or worship services, paying separately for expenses and meals, and (possibly most importantly) having absolutely no sexual relations. This condition must be corroborated in court through testimony of a witness, who can ideally be a friend who has seen your lives evolve after the initial separation.
Also noteworthy is that in Virginia it is possible to live separate and apart in the marital home, though it is difficult to prove in court proceedings and requires much time, preparation, and cooperation between the parties.
The other main element is the property and settlement agreement (PSA). If you have any marital property, it should be divided, set in writing, and absolutely agreed to before filing anything with the court. Oral agreements are not enough — the court will incorporate the PSA into the final divorce decree at the end of the process, so be sure it’s accurate and complete.
Preparing for divorce requires patience and diligence, either of which may be in short supply as emotions run high. While it may seem daunting at the beginning, it is important to follow through all the requirements to the letter, otherwise you risk running into unnecessary delays and undue emotional hardship.
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