Divorce Process: How to File for Divorce in Virginia
|Step 1||Determine eligibility for filing in Virginia. At least one of the spouses must have been a resident of Virginia for at least six months prior to filing for divorce.|
|Step 2||Prepare and file the Complaint for Divorce with the Circuit Court in the county where either spouse resides. The Complaint should include the grounds for divorce and any other relevant information.|
|Step 3||Serve the Complaint and a Summons on the other spouse. This can be done through personal service by a sheriff or process server or by certified mail with return receipt requested.|
|Step 4||The other spouse has 21 days to file an Answer to the Complaint. If an Answer is not filed, the court may grant a default judgment.|
|Step 5||If both spouses agree on the terms of the divorce, they can file a written agreement with the court. If there are disputes, the court may require mediation or a hearing to resolve them.|
|Step 6||If a hearing is required, both spouses will have the opportunity to present evidence and make arguments. The court will then issue a final decree of divorce.|
|Step 7||After the final decree of divorce is issued, both spouses should update their legal documents, including wills, powers of attorney, and beneficiary designations.|
Overview of Divorce Process in Virginia
- The first step is to file a complaint with your local circuit court.
- You will also need to provide proof that you have served your spouse with a copy of the complaint and summons.
- If you and your spouse cannot reach an agreement on all issues related to property division, child custody, support or alimony payments, then you may need to attend mediation or trial before a judge makes decisions on these issues.
In addition to these steps, it’s important to note that Virginia has two types of divorces: fault-based and no-fault. A fault-based divorce requires one party prove that their spouse did something wrong such as adultery or cruelty while no-fault grounds simply require evidence that couples live separately without cohabitation for at least one year (or six months if they do not have children). Ultimately understanding these basic guidelines will help anyone considering getting divorced navigate through the sometimes tricky waters of ending their marriage within the state of Virginia.
What is divorce?
Divorce is a legal process that dissolves a marriage. It marks the end of a relationship between two people who were previously committed to each other.
The decision to file for divorce can be difficult and emotional, but it’s important to understand what divorce is and how it works. Here are some key points to keep in mind:
- Divorce involves dividing property and debts
- If there are children involved, custody and support will need to be addressed
- In Virginia, you must have grounds for divorce which can either be fault-based or no-fault
- A no-fault divorce only requires proof that couples live separately without cohabitation for at least one year (or six months if they do not have children)
- Filing for divorce does not necessarily mean going through a trial; many divorces are settled outside of court through mediation or negotiation between attorneys.
Grounds for divorce in Virginia
If you cannot prove any of the above-mentioned faults, then you may still be able to file for no-fault divorce based on separation. Virginia allows couples to obtain a no-fault divorce if they have lived separately without cohabitation for at least one year (or six months if they do not have children).
It’s important to note that proving fault can be challenging and will require evidence, such as testimony from witnesses or documentation. Because of this difficulty, many people opt to file under the no-fault option instead.
Types of divorce in Virginia
In addition to these two main categories of divorces, there are also contested and uncontested divorces.
- Contested Divorce: A contested divorce occurs when spouses cannot agree on issues such as property division, child custody and support payments. This type may require mediation sessions to reach an agreement before going to trial where a judge will make decisions regarding any unresolved issues.
- Uncontested Divorce: An uncontested divorce happens when both spouses agree on all aspects related to their separation such as property distribution or custody arrangements. With this option it’s possible you’ll be able to file jointly which can save time and money compared to contested cases where each partner has separate legal representation due because of disagreements over key items in their shared life prior too splitting up..
Filing for Divorce in Virginia
Once you’ve completed these steps, there are additional procedures that may be necessary depending on your specific case. For example:
- Serve papers: Provide copies of all documents filed with the court to your spouse. This is known as serving papers and it must be done by someone other than yourself who is over 18 years old.
- Court appearances and hearings: If issues such as child custody cannot be resolved outside of court, then there may be additional hearings where both parties present evidence and make arguments in front of a judge who will make decisions regarding property division, support payments etc.
- If you are filing for a no-fault divorce based on separation, then only one spouse needs to meet the residency requirement
- If you are filing for a fault-based divorce, then both spouses must meet the residency requirement
- If your case involves child support only, you would file with the Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court (J&DR).
- If you have already filed a divorce petition out-of-state but want to change venues and try again within Virginia, you would need permission from that original jurisdiction before proceeding forward..
- You cannot personally deliver the papers to your spouse; someone else (not involved in the case) must do it.
- Your spouse has 21 days from the date they were served to respond to the complaint
- If your spouse fails to respond within this time frame, you may be able to obtain a default judgment which means that you will get what you asked for in your complaint by default
- If your spouse does respond, then negotiations or mediation may begin before going through court proceedings
- In a contested divorce, each party will have their own attorney who will represent them in court
- The judge will make decisions regarding the unresolved issues based on evidence presented by both sides
- Contested divorces tend to take longer and be more expensive than uncontested divorces because of the legal fees involved as well as time spent in courtrooms
- It’s important for individuals going through this process understand that even though it may be difficult financially or emotionally at times (especially if there are children involved), ultimately working with lawyers can help ensure fair outcomes for everyone involved.
- Both spouses must agree on all aspects of property division, child custody, support, and alimony
- The process is typically faster and less expensive than a contested divorce
- If there are no disputes between the parties, attorneys may not be required but it’s always recommended for each party consult with an attorney before signing any legal documents.
- In Virginia, you can still file for an uncontested divorce even if you initially filed for a contested one; as long as you reach an agreement before your final hearing date.
- All property acquired during the marriage is considered marital property unless there is evidence proving otherwise
- Separate property, or items obtained before the marriage or gifts given solely to one spouse during the marriage, will be awarded to their owner
- The court considers several factors when dividing marital property including length of marriage, contributions made by each party (financially or non-financially), age and health status of each person involved among others
- Couples can decide how they want to divide their own belongings outside of court if they agree on terms before filing for divorce
- Property owned by one spouse before getting married
- Inheritances received by one spouse during the marriage
- Gifts given to only one spouse during the marriage
- Custody can be joint or sole
- In addition to physical custody (where the child lives), there is also legal custody which pertains to decision-making authority over a child’s upbringing, such as education or medical care
- The court will consider factors such as each parent’s ability to provide for their child financially and emotionally, each parent’s relationship with their child, and any history of domestic abuse or neglect when deciding on a custody arrangement
- In terms of support, Virginia uses guidelines that take into account both parents’ incomes and expenses related to raising children. Child support payments typically continue until a child reaches age 18 or graduates from high school.
- Joint Custody: In this arrangement, both parents share equal responsibility for raising their child even if they do not have equal time with them. Joint legal and physical custody is often preferred in situations where both parents are able to communicate effectively and agree on major decisions regarding their child’s life.
- Sole Custody: This means that only one parent has full decision-making power over their child’s wellbeing or resides with them permanently. Sole custody is typically awarded when it is deemed in the best interest of the child due to factors like abuse or neglect from one parent
- File a complaint with your local child support enforcement agency
- Request an income withholding order which requires the non-custodial parent’s employer to withhold funds for payment directly from their paycheck
- Petition the court for contempt of court charges against the non-paying parent which could result in fines or even jail time if found guilty
- The length of the marriage
- The income and earning potential of each spouse
- The age and health of each spouse
- The standard of living during the marriage
- The contributions made by each spouse to the marriage (including non-financial contributions)
- The amount and duration of spousal support payments will vary from case to case
- Factors such as each spouse’s income, earning capacity, age, health, and contribution to the marriage will be considered when determining spousal support
- If there was marital fault (such as adultery or cruelty), this may impact whether spousal support is awarded and how much
- A court can modify or terminate spousal support if there has been a significant change in circumstances since it was originally ordered.
- If both parties agree on the changes, they can file a written agreement with the court for approval
- If there is no agreement, either party can request a hearing to present evidence for why the order should be modified or terminated
- The court will consider factors such as changed financial circumstances, remarriage of the supported spouse or cohabitation when deciding whether to modify or terminate an order
- A spousal support order typically ends automatically if the supported spouse dies or remarries
- An order may also have an end date specified in it that would make it expire at that time without further action needed.
- Mediators are trained professionals who help facilitate communication between parties in conflict
- The mediator does not make decisions but rather helps guide the couple towards reaching their own agreement
- ADR is another option for resolving disputes outside of court which includes arbitration or collaborative law approaches
- A neutral arbitrator hears evidence from both sides before rendering a decision while collaborative law involves each party hiring their own attorney who works together with other professionals such as financial advisors or therapists.
- Mediation is voluntary; either party can choose not participate
- The mediator does not make decisions but rather facilitates discussions between the couple
- If an agreement is reached through mediation, it will be put in writing and submitted to the court as part of the divorce settlement
- If no agreement can be reached through mediation, then the case may go to trial where a judge will make decisions on issues related to property division, child custody, support or alimony payments.
- Mediation can be less expensive than going through the courts
- The process can be faster than a trial
- Couples have more control over the outcome and can tailor solutions specifically for their situation
- The atmosphere of mediation is often less contentious and adversarial than going to court, making it easier for both parties emotionally
- The agreements reached during mediation tend to last longer because they were created by both parties together rather than imposed by a judge.
- Mediation: In mediation, a neutral third party facilitates discussions between spouses with the goal of reaching an agreement on all issues related to their divorce. Mediation is generally less expensive than going through a trial but requires both parties be willing to cooperate and negotiate in good faith.
- Arbitration: Arbitration involves hiring a neutral third party who acts as a judge and makes decisions on disputed issues. While arbitration can be more efficient than going through trial, it can also be more expensive since you will need to pay for the arbitrator’s time.
- Collaborative law:Collaborative law involves attorneys representing each spouse working together in a non-adversarial process that focuses on finding solutions that benefit both sides. This method may require multiple meetings but often results in mutually satisfactory agreements without resorting litigation.
- A decree of divorce must be signed by the judge
- You will receive copies of this decree once it has been filed with the court clerk
- Your marriage will officially end on the date specified in this decree – typically after any required waiting periods have passed
- An appeal must be filed within 30 days of the final order or judgment
- The grounds for an appeal typically involve errors made by the lower court during trial or issues related to jurisdiction
- An appellate court will review transcripts from the trial and briefs submitted by both parties before making a decision
- The outcome of an appeal can vary; it may result in a reversal of decisions made at trial, but it can also affirm them or send them back down for further proceedings
- To modify a divorce decree, you will need to file a petition with the court
- The other party will then have an opportunity to respond and either agree or disagree with your proposed modifications
- If both parties can come to an agreement on their own outside of court, they can submit their new arrangement for approval by a judge
- In cases where one party is refusing to comply with the terms of the divorce decree (such as failing to pay child support), enforcement actions may be necessary through filing contempt charges against them.
- The Virginia Judicial System provides information about divorce procedures and forms that can be accessed online.
- The Virginia State Bar Association has a Lawyer Referral Service which connects individuals with attorneys who specialize in family law.
- Legal aid organizations such as Legal Services of Northern Virginia or the Central Virginia Legal Aid Society provide free or low-cost legal assistance for those who qualify based on income.
- The division of property and debts will impact your financial situation after divorce
- You may be entitled to spousal support or alimony if you were financially dependent on your spouse during the marriage
- If children are involved, child support payments will also impact your finances post-divorce
- DivorceCare is a Christian-based support group that meets weekly to provide emotional support and practical advice for those going through separation or divorce.
- DailyStrength is an online forum where people can share their experiences and offer each other encouragement during difficult times like divorce.
Filing for divorce can seem overwhelming but understanding these basic guidelines will help anyone considering getting divorced navigate through this process within Virginia more easily. However, it’s always best to consult an attorney if possible before taking any legal action like filing for divorce
Residency requirements in Virginia
Before filing for divorce in Virginia, you must first meet the state’s residency requirements. In general, this means that either you or your spouse must have been a resident of Virginia for at least six months prior to filing.
It’s important to note that residency is determined differently depending on whether you are filing for a fault-based or no-fault divorce:
If you and your spouse do not meet Virginia’s residency requirements but want to file for divorce there anyway, it may be possible to establish temporary residence in order to satisfy these rules. However, it’s best to consult with an experienced attorney before attempting this route as it can be complicated and risky.
Where to file for divorce
It’s important to note that while most divorces are filed at the circuit court level, there are some exceptions. For example:
Overall choosing which venue is appropriate can get complicated so consulting with an experienced family law attorney could make all the difference when it comes time fill out these critical legal forms.
Forms required for filing
In addition to these basic forms, you may also need to fill out additional paperwork depending on your specific situation. For example, if there are children involved, you will likely need to complete a Child Support Guidelines Worksheet and a Parenting Plan. If there is property or debt to divide between spouses then other documents like Property Settlement Agreement or Separation Agreement might be necessary.
Filing for divorce can be complex but having an experienced attorney help guide you through the process can ensure everything runs smoothly. An attorney can also review any agreement before it’s signed so both parties fully understand their rights and obligations under Virginia law.
Filing fee and payment methods
When filing for divorce in Virginia, there are fees associated with the process. The amount of the fee can vary depending on the jurisdiction where you file your case. However, generally, a filing fee must be paid to initiate the divorce proceedings.
The current filing fee for divorce in Virginia is $86 if you don’t have children and $106 if you do have children. Keep in mind that additional costs may arise during your case, such as fees for serving papers or court appearances.
Payment methods for these fees also vary by jurisdiction but most accept payment by cash, check or money order. Some jurisdictions also allow payment online using a credit card or electronic check through their website.
Serving divorce papers to your spouse
Once you’ve filed for divorce in Virginia, you must serve your spouse with a copy of the complaint and summons. This is known as “service of process” and it informs your spouse that they are being sued for divorce.
Here are some important things to know about serving divorce papers in Virginia:
Contested and Uncontested Divorce in Virginia
It’s important to note that even if a couple begins with an uncontested divorce, it may become contested if disagreements arise during the process. In this case, mediation or a trial may be necessary in order to come to a resolution. On the other hand, some couples who begin with a contested divorce end up reaching agreements outside of court and transitioning into an uncontested divorce.
What is a contested divorce?
When a couple decides to file for divorce, they will need to reach an agreement on all of these issues in order to obtain an uncontested divorce. If they cannot agree, then it becomes a contested divorce and may require litigation.
What is an uncontested divorce?
An uncontested divorce is a type of divorce where both parties agree on all the terms and issues related to their separation. This means that they have reached a settlement agreement outside of court and do not need to go through litigation or trial.
Here are some key points to keep in mind about uncontested divorces:
How to file for an uncontested divorce in Virginia
Filing for an uncontested divorce is generally less expensive and less time-consuming than going through a contested trial. However, it’s important to remember that even if couples agree on everything initially, disputes could still arise during the process which could result in additional legal fees or prolonging proceedings.
What happens in a contested divorce in Virginia
During this process it’s important that you work closely with your attorney so that they can help protect your interests as best possible. Keep in mind that contested divorces are often more expensive than uncontested ones because of the additional time spent in court proceedings and legal fees associated with them.
Division of Property and Assets in Virginia
When it comes to divorce, one of the most contentious issues is the division of property and assets. In Virginia, property and assets are divided through a process known as equitable distribution. This means that marital property is divided fairly but not necessarily equally between the two parties.
Here’s what you need to know about division of property and assets in Virginia:
What is equitable distribution?
It’s important to note that equitable distribution can include more than just physical assets such as homes or vehicles. It may also involve retirement accounts, investments, businesses or other types of property. Because every case is unique, it’s crucial to consult with an experienced family law attorney who can help ensure that you receive your fair share during this process.
How is property and assets divided in Virginia?
If you’re going through divorce in Virginia and need help navigating these complicated legal issues related to asset division it may be wise consult with an experienced family lawyer who can guide you through this process.
Factors considered in division of property and assets
In addition to these factors, it’s important to note that separate property – meaning assets or debts acquired before the marriage – will generally remain with its original owner. However, if separate property has increased in value during the course of the marriage due to efforts by either party, then that increase may be considered marital property subject to division.
Marital vs. separate property
One of the most contentious issues in any divorce is property division. In Virginia, property can be classified as either marital or separate.
Marital property includes anything acquired during the course of the marriage, such as real estate, vehicles, and bank accounts. Separate property, on the other hand, includes:
If a couple cannot agree on how to divide their assets, a judge will make that decision for them based on factors such as each party’s income and contribution to acquiring said properties.
Child Custody and Support in Virginia
One of the most important and emotional aspects of divorce is determining child custody and support. In Virginia, courts prioritize the best interests of the child when making decisions about custody arrangements.
Here are some key points to keep in mind:
Types of custody in Virginia
In addition to these types of custody, Virginia courts may also consider joint versus sole custody arrangements:
Factors considered in child custody cases
In addition to these factors, Virginia law recognizes two types of custody: legal custody and physical custody. Legal custody refers to a parent’s right to make important decisions about their child’s upbringing such as education, healthcare, religion etc., whereas physical custody refers to where a child resides.
It’s also worth noting that Virginia prefers joint legal custodianship which means both parents share decision-making authority regarding their children. In terms of visitation rights with non-custodial parents (parents who do not have physical custodianship), Virginia encourages frequent visits so long as it does not interfere with school schedules or cause disruption within their day-to-day routine.
Child support guidelines in Virginia
In most cases, child support payments are made until the child turns 18 or graduates from high school, whichever occurs later. However, if the child has special needs, then payments may need to continue beyond this time frame.
Enforcement of child support orders
If you find yourself in this situation, there are steps you can take to enforce your child support order:
If you’re struggling with enforcing your child support order or have questions about how to go about doing so, it’s important to seek advice and guidance from an experienced family law attorney who can help guide you through this process.
Spousal Support in Virginia
Spousal support, also known as alimony, is financial assistance paid from one spouse to another following a divorce. In Virginia, spousal support can be awarded on a temporary or permanent basis depending on the circumstances of the divorce.
When deciding whether to award spousal support and for how long it should be paid, judges will consider various factors such as:
In some cases, spouses may agree to a specific amount and duration of spousal support through negotiation or mediation. It’s important for both parties to have an attorney review any proposed agreement before signing it to ensure that their rights are protected.
What is spousal support?
Spousal support, also known as alimony, is a court-ordered payment that one spouse makes to the other during and/or after a divorce. It’s intended to help the lower-earning spouse maintain their standard of living.
In Virginia, spousal support can be awarded on a temporary or permanent basis depending on the circumstances of the case. Here are some key points to keep in mind:
Factors considered in spousal support cases
In general, if one spouse earns significantly more than the other and/or if one spouse gave up their own career in order to take care of children or manage household duties during the marriage, then they may be eligible for spousal support payments. However every case is different so it’s important to speak with an experienced attorney who can help you understand your legal rights and options.
Types of spousal support in Virginia
The amount and duration of spousal support will depend on factors such as the length of the marriage, each party’s income and earning potential, and standard of living established during marriage. It’s important for both spouses to consult with an attorney who can help them navigate this process fairly and equitably.
Modification and termination of spousal support orders
After a divorce, one spouse may be ordered to pay spousal support or alimony to the other. However, circumstances can change over time and it may become necessary to modify or terminate these orders.
Here are some key points about modification and termination of spousal support orders in Virginia:
Mediation and Alternative Dispute Resolution in Virginia
Mediation and Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) are methods that couples can use to resolve issues related to their divorce without going through a trial. Mediation is a process where a neutral third-party mediator helps the couple reach an agreement on property division, child custody, support or alimony payments.
In Virginia, mediation is mandatory for any contested cases involving child custody or visitation rights. If you and your spouse cannot come to an agreement during mediation, then you may need to go to trial before a judge makes decisions regarding these matters. However, if both parties can agree during mediation, then they will be able to avoid the expense and emotional toll of a lengthy court battle.
What is mediation?
Mediation is a form of alternative dispute resolution that can be used in divorce cases to help couples reach agreements on issues related to property division, child custody, support or alimony payments. Mediation is typically less formal and less expensive than going to trial.
A mediator is a neutral third party who works with both parties to identify areas of agreement and disagreement. The mediator helps facilitate communication between the couple and may suggest possible solutions. It’s important for both parties to come prepared with an open mind and willingness to compromise in order for mediation to be successful.
Benefits of mediation in divorce cases
When it comes to divorce cases, one option that many couples choose is mediation. This is a process in which both parties work with a neutral third party (the mediator) to reach an agreement on the issues related to their divorce.
There are several benefits of choosing mediation over going through a traditional court process:
Types of alternative dispute resolution in Virginia
The advantage of using alternative dispute resolution is that it can save time and money compared to going through a lengthy court process. It also allows couples to have more control over the outcome since they are working together to come up with solutions rather than having decisions imposed upon them by a judge.
If you are considering getting divorced in Virginia, it’s important to understand your options for resolving disputes. While going through the court system may be necessary in some cases, ADR can often provide an effective alternative for many couples seeking divorce.
Choosing the right alternative dispute resolution method
Here are some common ADR options for divorcing couples:
No matter which option you choose when considering alternative dispute resolution during your Virginia divorce proceedings, it’s always best if you consult with an experienced family lawyer before making any final decisions regarding how best to proceed forward based upon individual circumstances present within each unique case.
Finalizing the Divorce in Virginia
Assuming all issues have been agreed upon or determined by the court at trial (or by default judgment), then it’s time for the finalization of your divorce:
This can be an emotional and challenging process but with proper guidance and understanding one can navigate through it smoothly.
Final hearing and judgment
Before your final hearing, you will need to prepare all necessary documentation and bring it with you to court. This may include financial records, parenting plans, and other supporting documents related to your case.
During the hearing itself, both parties will have an opportunity to present their arguments before the judge makes a decision. Once a judgment has been made regarding all of the contested issues in your case (if there are any), then your divorce will be finalized by signing a Final Order of Divorce.
If either party is dissatisfied with the outcome of their divorce case, they may be able to file an appeal. An appeal is a legal process that asks a higher court to review the decision made by the lower court and potentially reverse it.
Here are some key points to keep in mind about appeals in Virginia:
Name change after divorce
Changing your name after a divorce can also have an impact on any minor children involved. You may want to discuss this decision with them beforehand so they understand why you’re making the change and what it means for them. Additionally, if there is joint custody or visitation arrangements with the other parent of any minor children involved in the marriage then it is important that both parties agree about changes made regarding names of children before taking any steps further ahead.
Post-divorce modifications and enforcement
Once a divorce is finalized, it’s not necessarily the end of the legal process. In some cases, modifications to the original agreement may be necessary due to changes in circumstances.
If you or your ex-spouse experiences any significant changes in life such as job loss or relocation, it may impact child support payments and custody arrangements. Here are some key points to keep in mind:
Resources for Divorce in Virginia
In addition to these resources, it can also be helpful to seek support from family members, friends or counseling services during this difficult time. With proper guidance, anyone considering getting divorced will find the process easier to handle as they work towards creating their new life post-divorce.
Legal resources for divorce in Virginia
Divorce can be a complex legal process, and it’s important to have the right resources on hand. In Virginia, there are several legal resources available to help individuals navigate the divorce process:
In addition to these resources, many counties in Virginia have their own court websites where individuals can access local forms and information specific to their area. It’s important to take advantage of these resources when going through a divorce, as they can help ensure you understand your rights and responsibilities throughout the process.
Support groups and counseling services
It’s important to remember that seeking help is not a sign of weakness, but rather a proactive step towards healing and moving forward after the end of a marriage. Don’t hesitate to reach out for the support you need during this difficult time.
Financial resources for divorce in Virginia
In addition, it’s important to understand how divorce will affect your finances in the long term. Here are some key things to consider:
Taking the time to research these options and understand how divorce will impact your finances can help you make informed decisions as you navigate this difficult process in Virginia.
Online resources for divorce in Virginia
In addition to these resources, there are many online support groups and forums where people going through divorce can connect with others who understand what they’re experiencing. Some popular options include:
No matter which resources you choose to utilize during your divorce process, it’s important to remember that you don’t have to go through it alone. There are people out there who want to help you get through this difficult time and come out stronger on the other side.
FAQ on ‘Divorce Process: How to File for Divorce in Virginia’
Q: How long does it take to get a divorce in Virginia?
A: The length of time it takes to finalize a divorce in Virginia varies depending on whether the divorce is contested or uncontested. An uncontested divorce can be finalized within a few months, while a contested divorce can take over a year.
Q: What are the grounds for divorce in Virginia?
A: Virginia recognizes both fault and no-fault grounds for divorce. No-fault grounds include living separately for one year (if there are no children and the spouses have signed a separation agreement) or living separately for six months (if there are children involved). Fault grounds include adultery, cruelty, desertion, and felony conviction.
Q: Can I file for divorce without an attorney in Virginia?
A: Yes, you can file for divorce without an attorney in Virginia. However, it is recommended that you seek legal advice before proceeding with a divorce to ensure that your rights and interests are protected.
Q: What is the process for filing for divorce in Virginia?
A: The process begins by filing a Complaint with the Circuit Court in the county where either spouse lives. The other spouse must then be served with the Complaint and has twenty-one days to respond. If both parties agree on all issues related to the divorce, they can sign a Property Settlement Agreement and submit it to the court along with their final decree of divorce. If there are unresolved issues, such as child custody or property division, the case will go to trial.