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Divorce Lawyers Serving Stafford County, VA

If you’re going through a divorce in Stafford County, Virginia, you need an experienced and dedicated family law attorney to protect your rights and help you plan for the future. At Buczek Carpenter, our skilled divorce lawyers have served clients throughout Northern Virginia for a combined 20 years. We understand the complex and emotionally charged nature of divorce cases and want to provide the compassionate guidance and representation you deserve during this difficult time. Contact us today for a confidential consultation with a divorce lawyer serving Stafford County, and let’s discuss your situation in detail.

Basic Steps to Get a Divorce in Virginia

Here is a general outline of the divorce process in Virginia:

  1. Meet residency requirements: Either you or your spouse must have lived in Virginia for at least six months before filing for divorce.
  2. Determine grounds for divorce: Virginia allows for both fault-based and no-fault divorces. 
  3. File divorce papers: You must file the appropriate divorce papers with the court and served on your spouse. These include a Complaint for Divorce and a Summons.
  4. Respond to the Complaint: If your spouse disagrees with any aspects of the divorce, they can file a response to the Complaint. Disputes might involve property division, spousal support, child custody, or child support, for example.
  5. Negotiate and resolve issues: Any disputes will need to be resolved either through negotiation or litigation in court.
  6. Finalize the divorce: Once all the issues are resolved, the court will issue a Final Decree of Divorce, legally ending the marriage.

Divorce from Bed and Board vs. Divorce from the Bond of Matrimony

Divorce laws vary from state to state, and Virginia has its own rules and regulations governing the dissolution of marriage. Virginia law recognizes two types of divorce: a divorce from bed and board and a divorce from the bond of matrimony. A divorce from bed and board is a partial divorce in which the spouses are legally separated but cannot remarry. A divorce from the bond of matrimony is a complete marriage dissolution. The law requires that there must be grounds for the divorce. 

Grounds for divorce

Grounds are legally valid reasons for divorce. Virginia recognizes both fault-based and no-fault grounds.

Fault-Based

Fault-based grounds include adultery, cruelty, desertion, and felony conviction. In a fault-based divorce, the spouse alleging fault must prove their claims in court. These types of divorces can be more challenging, since the grounds are limited and often contested by the other spouse. Pursuing a fault-based divorce allows the court to intervene earlier in the process. The court might need to intervene toset spousal support, assign debts, and ensure that assets do not disappear.

No-Fault Based

No-fault divorces are based on the parties’ separation for a specified period. If the couple has no minor children and has a signed separation agreement, they can file for divorce after living separately for six months. If they have minor children or do not have a separation agreement, they must live separately for one year before filing.

A separation agreement is a legally binding contract that outlines the terms of the divorce, covering property division, spousal support, and child custody and support. If the court finds the agreement fair, it can be used in the final divorce decree.

Virginia Divorce Procedures

If the court grants the divorce, it will then begin to decide on matters such as property division, spousal support, and child custody. 

Separation of Property (Equitable Distribution)

In Virginia, the division of marital property and debts during a divorce follows the principle of equitable distribution. This means that the court will divide assets and liabilities in a way they believe is fair and just, taking into account various factors, such as:

  • Each spouse’s contributions to the acquisition, preservation, or improvement of marital property
  • The length of the marriage
  • The ages and health of the parties
  • The circumstances that contributed to the end of the marriage
  • The debts and liabilities of each spouse
  • The tax consequences of the property division

It is important to note that equitable distribution does not meanan equal 50/50 split of assets. Instead, the court will consider the unique circumstances of thecase to decide a fair division of property.

Child Support

In Virginia, both parents have a legal obligation to support their children. Child support is calculated using the Virginia Child Support Guidelines, which consider factors such as:

  • Each spouse’s contributions to the acquisition, preservation, or improvement of marital property
  • The length of the marriage
  • The ages and health of the parties
  • The circumstances that contributed to the end of the marriage
  • The debts and liabilities of each spouse
  • The tax consequences of the property division

The court may deviate from the guidelines if exceptional circumstances warrant a different amount of child support. Child support orders can also be modified if circumstances change, such as a significant change in either parent’s income or the child’s needs.

Alimony (Spousal Support)

Alimony, also known as spousal support, is a payment made by one spouse to the other during or after a divorce. In Virginia, the court may award alimony based on various factors, including:

  • The earning capacity of each spouse
  • The duration of the marriage
  • The standard of living established during the marriage
  • The age and health conditions of the parties
  • The contributions, both monetary and non-monetary, of each party to the well-being of the family
  • The circumstances that contributed to the dissolution of the marriage
  • The extent to which age, physical or mental conditions, or special circumstances of any shared children would make it appropriate for a party not to seek employment outside of the home

Alimony can be awarded as periodic payments, a lump sum, or a combination. The court may also reserve the right to award future alimony if appropriate.

Divorce Resources in Stafford County

Various organizations and government agencies in Stafford County provide support and information to those going through a divorce.

One of the first steps in the divorce process is accessing vital records and obtaining the necessary forms. The Stafford County Circuit Court Clerk’s Office provides access to divorce records and can assist with obtaining the appropriate forms for filing and name changes. Online resources like the Virginia Court System website also offer downloadable forms and instructions for divorce proceedings.

Stafford County’s Circuit Court is located at the Judicial Center on Courthouse Road and US 1. The Stafford County Judicial Center houses the Circuit Court, Juvenile & Domestic Relations Court, and General District Court, which may play a role in your divorce case.

Getting Started with Buczek Carpenter

Taking the first step toward divorce can be daunting, but the team with Buczek Carpenter is here to guide you with compassion. Our experienced family law attorneys are dedicated to providing the personalized attention and strong advocacy you need during this challenging time. We can help you establish grounds for divorce, file the necessary paperwork with the appropriate court, and resolve issues involving:

  • Child custody and visitation
  • Child support
  • Spousal support/alimony
  • Division of assets and debts

Don’t wait to take the first step towards building a brighter future. Contact Buczek Carpenter today to schedule a consultation and discover how we can help you achieve your goals. Together, we can work towards a resolution that allows you to move forward with confidence and peace of mind.

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