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  • John C. Whitbeck, Jr.


    John C. Whitbeck, Jr. practices in the following areas of law: Family Law, Divorce, Child Custody, Child Support, Visitation Rights, Adoptions, Spousal Support, Mediation, Arbitration, Relocation Cases, Domestic Violence, Criminal Law, DUI/DWI, Reckless Driving, All Felonies, All Misdemeanors, Juvenile Crimes, Mental Health Law, Civil and Business Litigation, Construction Litigation, Education Law, Election Law, Debt Collection, Consumer and Lemon Law.

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  • Ruth M. McElroy


    Ruth M. McElroy practices in the following areas of law: Family law, Divorce, Child Custody, Child Support, Visitation Rights, Adoptions, Spousal Support, Relocation Cases, Pre and Post Marital Agreements, Domestic Violence, Reckless Driving, DUI/DWI, Juvenile Crimes, Felony and Misdemeanor Crimes, Traffic Offenses, Debt Collection, Civil and Business Litigation. She serves the Virginia Court system as a Guardian ad litem.

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  • Jennifer D. Cisneros


    Jennifer D. Cisneros practices in the following areas of law: Family law, Divorce, Child Custody, Child Support, Visitation Rights, Adoptions, Spousal Support, Relocation Cases, Domestic Violence, Juvenile Crimes, Reckless Driving, DUI/DWI, Estate Planning, Wills and Probate, Trusts, Civil and Business Litigation and Debt Collection.

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Basics of Getting Divorced in Virginia


If you’re contemplating divorce in the state of Virginia, it’s pretty straightforward as far as requirements go. However, it can take months, or even years, especially if the other party contests any aspects of the divorce. Here are some basic things to consider if you plan on getting divorced in the state.

Residency Requirements

Virginia does have a residency requirement for those looking to divorce in the state. Virginia requires that one or both spouses must have resided in the state for at least six months before filing. Active members of the military who are stationed in Virginia qualify if they have been there for at least six months, including those who live on a ship that is home-ported in Virginia and those that reside on a federally controlled base located within the state. Military members who are stationed internationally can qualify if they can provide proof that they lived in Virginia for the six months preceding the deployment or assignment. Spouses aren’t required to live at the same residence either – they can maintain separate homes within the state to qualify, or one can even live in another state.

Fault versus No Fault Divorces

Virginia is one of a handful of states that still practices at-fault divorces. This means there are certain criteria that must exist before you can file for divorce. These criteria include conditions like adultery or other sexual acts that take place outside of the marriage (notably sodomy or buggery), fear of bodily harm, and more. Virginia also allows for no-fault divorces too, but these require that you must live apart for at least one year, and there can’t be any interruption. For example, you can’t live apart for nine months, move in for one, and back out again for two months and file. Couples who don’t have minor children and enter into a valid separation agreement can file after six months of living apart.

How Divorces are Handled in the Courts

When you hear the term filing for divorce, the spouse who wants a divorce will file a complaint with the appropriate court, and is known as the plaintiff. The complaint will contain specific detailed information about the facts of the marriage, living arrangements, grounds for divorce, etc. The complaint is delivered, or what’s legally called served, to the other spouse, who is then known as the defendant in the case. Documents are served by a process server or sheriff, and the defendant then has a certain amount of time to file a response, which is called an answer.

Hiring a Family Law Attorney for Your Divorce

Getting divorced in Virginia can be a complex process, especially in a “fault” divorce. It’s important to retain a skilled Leesburg divorce attorney who can help guide you through the process. Let the knowledgeable family law attorneys at Whitbeck Cisneros McElroy handle all the details so you don’t have to. Separating from your spouse is hard enough, but emotions can get in the way of fruitful negotiations. Contact our office at 703-997-4982 to schedule a confidential consultation.



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