Archive for the ‘Divorce’ Category

Could Kim Kardashian get divorced in Virginia?

Sunday, November 6th, 2011

The Kim Kardashian divorce news brings up a question that I hear often in Virginia.  You might be surprised at the number of calls I get from people who have been married less than a month and they now want to get a divorce.

It is easy to get married in Virginia.  Some states have a 3-day waiting period before you can get married.  Virginia has no waiting period at all, so if you are thinking about getting married and want to do it on a whim, Virginia might be the place to go for the wedding ceremony.

It is not so easy to get divorced in Virginia.

I think the shortest marriage that has shown up in my office wanting a divorce is from a couple who got into a fight at the reception and never spent even one night together as man and wife.

Unfortunately for most unhappily married couples, they must wait until they have been married for at least 6 months before they can file for divorce.  Of course, if there are provable grounds for divorce the divorce can be granted sooner, but for the ‘it was a mistake’ type of situation like that of Kim Kardashian, you need to be separated for at least 6 months after the wedding before you can even file for a divorce.

These types of situations are usually handled as an uncontested divorce and we can draft a Marital Settlement Agreement that will control the legal situation between the parties until the divorce can be granted, but the couple is still legally married until the judge signs the final decree.

So be sure before you get married!

If you have any questions about this or any other legal subject, please feel free to give us a call at 757-234-4650 or visit our website at

What can I expect as a divorce property settlement?

Friday, November 6th, 2009

Virginia uses what is called ‘equitable distribution’ to divide marital property at the time of a divorce. “Equitable” means ‘fair’, not necessarily equal.

In most cases where there aren’t any strong compelling arguments, the division of marital property will probably be equal (or close to equal) because that is also fair. But there are individual situations that can make a difference.

When you are getting a divorce, everything that you and your spouse own is viewed as one of three categories.  It is either the Husband’s separate property, or the Wife’s separate property, or it is ‘marital property’.  While this sounds simple, it can get quite complicated.

In general, any property that you owned before you got married, obtained during the marriage by a gift or inheritance, or you obtained after your separation, will be termed your ’separate’ property and will remain the property of the separate owner.  (note that I said ‘in general’…It is very important to keep good records so that separate property can remain identified as separate.)

Anything else is termed ‘marital’ property. This ‘marital property’ is what most people fight about during a divorce.

It is also important to note that ‘property’ means anything of value and not just your house.  That means that things such as your stamp collection, any retirement benefits, bank accounts, copyrights or patents will be divided between you.

Code of Virginia section 20-107.3 is the statute that provides direction for the  property distribution. Paragraph E lists 11 criteria that the court uses when it makes the determination about how to divide marital property. As in many areas of the law, there is a ‘catch all’ criteria that allows the court to consider ‘Such other factors as the court deems necessary or appropriate to consider in order to arrive at a fair and equitable monetary award.’

The best arrangement is for the parties to agree to a property settlement that they have negotiated themselves. It is quicker, cheaper, and probably closer to what each party really wants. But, if the parties cannot agree, the court will make a decision about the property division and the parties will be required to follow that court decision.

And the court’s decision will be ‘equitable’ based on all of the information that is available to the judge.

This is a very complicated area of the law that can seem deceptively simple.

Even if you have already come to an agreement with your spouse, it is always a good idea to have your own attorney review that agreement to make sure it contains everything that is needed legally to make sure the agreement can be enforced, and that your interests have been protected.  After all, a settlement agreement is really nothing more than a contract, and you would always want to have any other type of contract reviewed before signing it…..right?

How long does it take to get divorced?

Saturday, October 31st, 2009

I get this question a lot.

People call and ask if they can get divorced in three days (I guess there are places where that can happen, but it is NOT in Virginia!).

A quick, easy, painless divorce in Virginia is almost impossible, but you can help things move more quickly if you and your soon-to-be-ex-spouse can agree on things. Even with a ’simple’ no-property, no children and non-contested divorce, the courts will require a separation of at least six months. Why? Because the Commonwealth of Virginia thinks that marriage is a very serious commitment and leaving a marriage is a very serious decision.

Another question I get is whether or not a ‘better’ attorney can make things go faster? The answer is ‘not really’.

There are certain procedures that must be followed, and some of these take time. There might be a way to reduce this time if possible, but that really takes a lot of agreement between the parties. And if the parties could agree with each other, the chances are that they wouldn’t be in the process of needing (or wanting) a divorce!

I’ve also found that ‘non contested’ divorces have a way of turning into ‘contested’ situations. Which means that the ’simple’ case often turns into a more complex case as things progress.

I’ve heard of divorce cases that dragged on for 10 years, although this is definitely NOT the norm!

So, how long does it take to get divorced? I’d plan on a minimum of six months from the date you make the decision to the date of the final decree. And that’s if things all go as well as they can.