If you want to start planning for a divorce, you need to have accurate information about what the process involves. Although you may want to talk to your best friend or your coworkers about divorce, they may not be in a position to provide you with correct information. A cursory internet search could also return inaccurate information that leaves you with inappropriate expectations.
Learning the basics about Virginia divorces will empower you. There are three main rules that those contemplating divorce will want to understand before they make any major decisions.
How Virginia divides your property
One of the most important considerations when planning for your future after a divorce is what resources you will have to rebuild your life. Unless the two of you already have a marital agreement, you will either need to settle property division matters on your own or ask a judge to apply state law.
Virginia uses an equitable distribution rule that requires judges to learn about the marriage and review household assets and debts before dividing everything in a fair and just manner. The outcome will largely depend on the judge’s perspective related to your relationship and finances.
When the courts order spousal support or alimony
Getting alimony, which some people call spousal support or maintenance, is not automatic in a Virginia divorce. A spouse with lower earning potential or who left the workforce to handle household matters can file papers requesting alimony.
As with property division, your marital circumstances will influence what a judge orders. The ability of one spouse to pay and the need of the other are also major considerations. Spousal support is often temporary, and the duration will depend on family circumstances.
How the courts address child custody
The custody laws in Virginia are relatively neutral. They do not refer to either parent’s role or sex. Each parent theoretically has the same rights regarding time with the children and decision-making authority as the other.
However, a judge can create very detailed, nuanced parenting plans based on your family’s situation. The best interests of the children and your family will be the main consideration in all custody-related decisions.
Once you understand the basic rules that apply to the three biggest issues in most Virginia divorces, you will be in a better position to start planning for your future.