Divorce Attorney in Merrifield, VA
Grounds for Divorce
Virginia’s divorce laws allow for both “fault” and “no fault” divorces. The fault grounds for divorce are adultery (“cheating”), desertion (giving up on the marriage and leaving), and cruelty (usually, physical abuse). The no fault grounds are based on living separate and apart for a required statutory period, which is normally one year.
One does not have to be separated for a year to file a fault-based divorce. Also, many divorces in Merrifield that start off as fault-based are amended to the no-fault ground when the parties settle, because at that point the fault will not have a financial impact on the otherwise agreed outcome. Parties who have no minor children and who reach a full written settlement agreement settling all of their issues can file for a no fault divorce after six months of continuous separation.
One area of frequent confusion for clients is the difference between “no fault” divorces and “uncontested” divorces. Although normally a divorce filed on the separation ground will also be uncontested, they sometimes can be, as for example when they parties disagree over whether they have been separated for the required time. “No fault” means it will not be necessary to show blame in the other party, while “uncontested” means that the other party is agreeing that the alleged ground is true.
A party against whom fault is alleged often has important defenses available. For example, a party who has moved out of an abusive relationship might be alleged to have deserted, but that person may have been justified in leaving the marriage.
Divorce Lawyer in Merrifield: The Challenge of Predicting the Effect of Fault
One of the most difficult things for a divorce attorney in Merrifield to do accurately is to predict the effect of fault on the outcome of a divorce case. It depends on a number of factors – the attitudes of the judge, the economic impact of the fault, the comparative innocence of the other spouse, just to name a few. For that reason, the experience of your attorney can lead to a more meaningful assessment of this factor in weighing settlement against litigation.
Because it is hard to know the impact that bad conduct leading to the end of a marriage will have from a practical viewpoint on the results of divorce litigation, litigants in fault-based divorces are susceptible to making emotional decisions that are not necessarily sound economic ones. There is no simple formula that says, just as a made-up example, the innocent spouse in the break up of the marriage will receive a set percentage more of the marital assets, or higher alimony, or an award of the legal fees that the other’s bad behavior forced upon the couple. Those things are, however, possible. At some point, the high emotions surrounding the end of a marriage must be put in check to be sure that the cost of pursuing claims can be justified within the realm of possible or likely outcomes. Again, this is an area in which a Merrifield divorce lawyer’s experience can be of great value.
Contact Masterman Krogmann today to be represented by one of the top divorce lawyers in Merrifield, Virginia.