Alternatives to Divorce Litigation in Virginia

If you and your former spouse are amicably separating, know that you can decide to pursue alternatives to divorce litigation in Virginia. The standard issues that must be settled in a divorce include spousal support and property division, as well as child custody and child support if there are children involved. An experienced local divorce lawyer can help to provide you with options that will best support your individual lifestyle. Read on to learn more about alternatives to divorce litigation in Virginia, as well as the ways a knowledgeable attorney could make a difference in your life.

Legal Requirements

Regardless of whether a couple is going to court or reaching a private agreement for a divorce, there are certain legal requirements that must be met. First, at least one party must have resided in Virginia for at least six months. Second, Virginia is a fault-based state regarding marriage cancellations. This means that there can be specific reasons for fault of divorce such as cruelty or abandonment, as well as separation-based fault in other circumstances. All couples must live separately for at least six months before filing for divorce. However, if there are children involved, the separation must be for one full year.

Settling Outside of Court

One of the potential alternatives to divorce litigation in Virginia is settling divorce disputes out of court. Settling divorce disputes out of court is becoming more encouraged by the legal system, as it can save both time and money for all parties involved. In a negotiation, both parties and their lawyers can come to an agreement that they are willing to sign off on.

Divorce Negotiations

In the negotiation, both sides will compromise on issues regarding support, whether it is spousal support or child support. They will also discuss how to divide up property. Lastly, if there are children involved, they will determine a custody and visitation schedule. It is important to have a Virginia divorce lawyer available even when looking at an alternative to divorce litigation. A lawyer can assist an individual in negotiations to make sure that they receive the support amounts and property they are entitled to.

Neutral Evaluation

Another option available to separating couples involves using a neutral evaluation. This concept is very similar to mediation, as the neutral evaluator plays a role much like that of a mediator. Before a case regarding equitable distribution of property goes to trial, the court will order a neutral evaluator to meet with both sides. At this conference, both parties and their lawyers will meet with the neutral evaluator to make their case without evidence.

After this meeting, the neutral evaluator will make a ruling as to how they believe that the judge will decide. The evaluator will also make suggestions about how both sides can compromise. Often, individuals will decide to take the neutral evaluator’s suggestions and reach an agreement with the other party.


Another example of alternatives to divorce litigation in Virginia includes going through an arbitration process. During this process, the arbitrator will act as a judge that will hear the case and make a decision regarding issues the parties are having in their divorce. However, know that arbitration agreements are not binding with issues regarding children, so disputes involving custody, visitation, and child support may still be taken to court.

Consulting with a Virginia Divorce Attorney

Going to a lawyer before proceeding with your divorce can help you understand all the different alternatives to divorce litigation in Virginia to help determine the best option for your lifestyle. Having an attorney with you during any of these proceedings will help to keep you informed of the rights you are entitled to at all times so you are not taken advantage of. Reach out to a lawyer knowledgeable in the different alternatives to divorce litigation in Virginia today to set up your initial consultation.