The Separation Period
Disposition of Assets and Debts
There are two ways to fulfill this requirement:
Property Settlement Agreements
When you are able to enter into a Property Settlement Agreement, your divorce process may look something like this:
- You discuss the terms of your PSA with your spouse and your lawyer. This is referred to as settlement negotiations.
- You and your spouse formally enter into a Property Settlement Agreement.
- Your lawyer prepares the required documents needed to finalize the divorce with the Court. You and your spouse will need to review and sign them as necessary.
- When the statutory period of separation has been completed, your lawyer will file with the Court to initiate your divorce. The document that initiates the divorce is called a “complaint for divorce”. This must be filed with the Court that has jurisdiction to grant your divorce. The party who files first is the Plaintiff.
- The clerk of Court then creates a summons for the divorce, which formally informs the opposing party, the Defendant, that there is an active divorce against them filed with the Court.
- The complaint and summons must be personally served to the Defendant.
- The Defendant has twenty-one days to write an answer the complaint or sign a waiver, which answers the complaint and gives the Plaintiff permission to file the final decree of divorce.
- The Plaintiff must have their signature notarized on Plaintiff Affidavit.
- The parties will agree who will file the Final Decree of Divorce packet with the Court, then the filing party must organize and file the packet properly for it to be accepted.
- After the Final Decree of Divorce packet is filed, most divorces are officially finalized in a few weeks.
- After the divorce is finalized, the parties must fulfill all obligations they agreed to in their PSA. When all obligations have been fulfilled, the PSA becomes null and void. For parties with minor children, this usually occurs after the children have reached the age of eighteen.
Equitable Distribution Trials
During this process, the Judge reviews all contested matters of the marriage; debts, assets, custody, visitation, and any other special circumstances. The Judge then rules on the terms of the marriage, dividing responsibilities in the most equitable form of distribution according to Virginia law.
This process can last as long as necessary to hear a case and complete the necessary depositions and discovery requests.
If a party decides to represent themselves without an attorney, they are referred to as Pro Se. If a party has an attorney, they are referred to as the Plaintiff or the Defendant, and their attorney is known as counsel for the Plaintiff or counsel for the Defendant. While it is possible to represent yourself Pro Se in your divorce having an attorney to fight for your interests generally produces better results.
What Can The Pennington Law Firm Do For My Divorce Case?
To schedule a consultation to discuss your legal needs, contact her at (571) 481-9977 today.