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What Papers Do I Need to Begin Divorce Proceedings?

If you’ve made the decision to file for a divorce, you most likely have questions regarding your next steps. It can be difficult to know which documents are essential to begin your divorce proceedings, and how to properly fill these forms out. While each state varies in its required documentation, Virginia has specific criteria that need to be met in order to approve a requested divorce. At Mahoney Richmond Thurston, PLLC, we are here to help you understand Virginia’s divorce procedures and make the process as simple as possible. 

What are the Requirements to File a Divorce in Virginia?

Before you begin filling out your paperwork, couples should ensure that they meet Virginia’s separation requirements. In order to request a divorce, at least one spouse must reside in Virginia and have lived there for at least six months. Couples who are filing for an uncontested divorce, one in which each spouse agrees upon all aspects of the divorce, must have been separated for at least six months prior to the request. The court describes separation as being physically apart from one another and not living together. However, if the couple has children, they must be separated for at least one year prior to filing.  

What Forms Does Virginia Require During Separation?

The spouse requesting the divorce, also referred to as the plaintiff, must file several documents before legal proceedings can commence. These documents include the following:

  • Complaint for Divorce

If you meet the requirements for divorce outlined above, the spouse requesting the divorce must file a complaint for divorce form. This form, which gets processed in Virginia’s Circuit Court, requires the individual to specify grounds for the granting of a divorce. The grounds of divorce will differ depending on if the divorce is labeled as a no-fault or fault divorce. A no-fault divorce places no blame on either spouse in connection to the marriage’s end. Opposite of this is a fault divorce in which one spouse alleges that the other’s behavior contributed to the marriage’s end. A fault-based divorce may be filed immediately, whereas a no-fault divorce requires both spouses to adhere to the separation time frame. 

This form also outlines basic identification questions about each spouse including residency and military background, if applicable. If the couple has children, they will also need to fill out their children’s ages. After filling out this information, the plaintiff must provide the original form and a copy to the court and be prepared to pay a filing fee for complaint files. 

  • VS-4

The VS-4 form is a statistical form that must be provided before a divorce can be finalized. This form requires basic information about the client such as their date of birth, education level, and each spouse’s address. After the form is endorsed, it is used for statistical purposes by the state. 

  • Domestic Case Coversheet

The Domestic Case Coversheet outlines basic information about the Complainant and the Defendant and each of their respective attorneys if applicable. This form also specifies the type of divorce, any requested services, and the official date of separation. Two copies of this form must be provided when filing. 

Contact a Virginia Attorney Today

If you have questions regarding the required forms in Virginia to file a divorce, contact one of our trusted attorneys today. We look forward to speaking with you.