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So, you have decided to divorce and have served your spouse with divorce papers. What comes next? Although moving forward with divorce seems like the most challenging part of the process, there are numerous steps you must take before resolving your divorce and calling yourself single again.
At Invictus Law, our Virginia Beach family law attorneys have extensive knowledge of the divorce process. We can help you navigate what comes next after you serve your spouse with divorce papers.
Before officially filing for divorce in Virginia, it is always wise to discuss the specifics of your case with an experienced Virginia Beach divorce attorney. A divorce attorney can prepare you for what’s ahead and offer valuable legal advice and moral support during this challenging time. Your attorney can also help by ensuring you meet residency requirements and are eligible to file for divorce in Virginia.
Once you’ve outlined your goals with your attorney, the first formal step in the divorce process is filing a Complaint. A Complaint for the dissolution of marriage is a legal document outlining why you are seeking a divorce from your spouse and what you seek in terms of a resolution. Your spouse must receive a copy of the Complaint. Virginia law gives you several options for serving your spouse with these documents, including:
Additionally, divorce documents can be sent by mail to your spouse’s home address but only by Return Receipt, meaning someone must sign, acknowledging receipt of the delivery. Copies of the documents can also be posted on the front of your spouse’s door, along with a legal copy sent by first-class mail.
Once your spouse has been served, it’s time to play the waiting game. Your partner has 21 days to review the documents and file their Answer with the court. If your spouse is not satisfied that they have enough time to review the legal documents and prepare a response properly, they may request an extension. Generally, during these 21 days, your spouse may seek legal advice while preparing their Answer to the Complaint.
An Answer to the Complaint is the next step in the divorce process once your spouse has had time to review the original Complaint. Their Answer to the Complaint may include their allegations about the reason for the marriage breakdown and outline their preferences regarding the allocation of child support, alimony, and the division of property.
If your spouse agrees to the terms outlined in your Complaint, you may seek an uncontested divorce. An uncontested divorce means both parties generally agree to the divorce terms and have no issues dividing property or alimony payments. If your spouse disagrees with your original Complaint, a contested divorce where the courts help settle issues surrounding child support and division of property may be necessary.
If your partner fails to file an Answer within 21 days and does not request an extension, you may file a motion for default and request that the court enter a default judgment after a hearing.
Anticipating what can happen after you serve your spouse with divorce papers in Virginia Beach can be challenging. Working with an experienced family law attorney can ease the burden and stress. Contact us online or call us at 757-317-5125. You can talk to a compassionate Virginia Beach family law attorney with Invictus Law today for help with your case.