Norfolk Divorce

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Divorce Attorney in Norfolk

Divorce is often both tedious and painful. You might have children to think about. You have assets to divide.

Even without those two items, the divorce process usually involves disagreement and conflict between spouses. It requires a large amount of decision-making and paperwork. While family law matters can be difficult, you do not have to go through it alone. Melone Hatley, P.C. has been recognized as a knowledgeable and compassionate family law firm. We are eager to help you through your Virginia divorce case.

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woman taking off wedding ring after divorce

Should I Get A Lawyer for Divorce in Norfolk, Virginia?

While it is possible for two spouses to reach an agreement on the important issues in their divorce on their own, Virginia divorce law can be complicated and tricky. Even if you and your spouse are able to create a separation agreement yourselves, divorce proceedings have to follow specific rules and procedures. An uncontested divorce case must follow various legal formalities.

Divorce lawyers know all of the requirements for divorce cases in Norfolk courts. They can help you make sure that settlement agreements and other documents cover all of the important issues and are in the proper format. Negotiating a legal separation agreement requires close attention to a wide range of issues:

  • Property division must occur in almost every divorce. Even if certain items of property are in only one spouse’s name, they must still be divided. Some cases, such as military divorces, require specific knowledge of military benefits and other matters.
  • Spousal support, also known as alimony, may be an issue.
  • If you and your spouse have minor children, you must address child custody and child support issues in your divorce case.

family law attorney can help you whether you are dealing with an uncontested or a contested divorce. They can make sure that you are addressing all of the necessary issues and help you reach an amicable resolution to your divorce.

Not every divorce, however, can end in a negotiated settlement. Spouses may continue to disagree over issues involving property, support, or children. Courts in Virginia require spouses to make an effort to resolve their disputes before going to court. If it turns out that a settlement is not possible, your divorce lawyer can advocate for your rights in the courtroom.

Questions regarding divorce issues? Contact our office today or schedule a call with one of our client services coordinators.

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What Are the Requirements to File for Divorce in Norfolk, Virginia?

Virginia law does not provide for legal separation. Divorce is the only way to end a marriage. In order to file for divorce in a Norfolk court, one spouse must have been a resident of Virginia for at least six months before filing. The spouses’ residency will affect the court’s authority to decide various issues:

  • If both spouses and their children, if any, are Virginia residents, the court has the authority to decide all of the issues in the case.
  • If one spouse lives in another state, the court may not have jurisdiction over some property division or spousal support issues. The court would still be able to grant the divorce, but it could not do anything about property located outside of Virginia.
  • The children must live in Virginia for the court to be able to rule on child custody and child support.

Virginia allows “no-fault divorce,” meaning that a spouse does not have to prove wrongdoing by the other spouse in order for the court to grant a divorce. The only criterion for a no-fault divorce involves how long the spouses have lived apart from one another:

  • If the spouses have no children, they must have been separated for at least six months, and they must prepare a written settlement agreement regarding property division.
  • If the spouses have children, they must have been separated for at least one year.

Several other grounds for divorce are possible under Virginia law. Divorce is possible after a year has passed since either of the following has occurred:

  • A spouse has engaged in cruel or abusive treatment of the other spouse.
  • A spouse has intentionally abandoned the other spouse.

If a spouse can prove one of the following grounds, a court may grant a divorce regardless of how long, or whether, the spouses have been separated:

How Much Does a Divorce Lawyer Cost in Norfolk, VA?

This question has no clear-cut answer. The cost to file for divorce in Virginia depends on factors like children, assets, and each spouse’s willingness to negotiate a settlement. The more time the parties spend arguing, both at conference tables and in courtrooms, the more costs they will incur. Sometimes a certain amount of conflict is necessary in divorce proceedings, but keep in mind that more conflict usually leads to more cost.

Generally speaking, divorce attorneys may charge anywhere between $350 and $375 per hour, with some outlier prices on both ends. Norfolk divorce lawyers’ hourly rates usually equate with experience.

Difference Between a Contested and Uncontested Divorce in Norfolk?

In an uncontested divorce, the spouses reach a settlement agreement without any court hearings. Uncontested divorce offers some advantages:

  • It tends to be faster since you do not have to wait for hearing dates on busy court dockets.
  • It tends to cost less, at least in the short term.

While an uncontested divorce could help you save on legal fees, it could cost you more in the long run if you give up valuable assets or other legal rights in the interest of getting to a settlement agreement.

A contested divorce often requires the court to decide issues for the two parties. It can be advantageous in situations where you and your spouse cannot agree on much. You have the opportunity to present your entire case to a judge and have them decide. The disadvantages mirror the advantages of uncontested divorce:

  • A contested divorce can take longer because you must wait for court dates.
  • It tends to cost more because it takes longer.
  • You give up control over important decisions.
Need help? You are not alone. Schedule a call with one of our client services coordinators today!

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Schedule a call with one of our client services coordinators.

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support payments

Will I Get Alimony in a Divorce in Norfolk?

Spousal support may be available in Norfolk divorce cases when the spouses have been married for a long time and one of them has substantially more income than the other. Factors that courts must consider when deciding whether to award spousal support include:

  • The length of the marriage;
  • Each spouse’s age and health;
  • Their income at the time of the divorce;
  • Their future earning capacity;
  • The amount of property that each spouse will have after the divorce;
  • The lifestyle that they each enjoyed while married;
  • Whether either spouse gave up a career to support the other spouse or their children; and
  • Misconduct in the marriage, such as adultery or abuse.

Spousal support is not meant to be a punishment for misconduct. Courts will mostly consider whether one spouse will need help after the marriage ends. If a spouse will be able to support themselves better once they gain more education or training, a court might order temporary alimony. If they will need help on a longer basis, the court could make the spousal support award permanent.

How Will Divorce Impact Child Custody in Norfolk?

If you and your spouse have minor children, child custody will have to be part of your divorce case. Virginia law identifies two types of custody:

  • Physical custody: The right to determine where the child lives and to have regular contact with the child.
  • Legal custody: The right to make major decisions affecting the child’s health, education, religious upbringing, and overall well-being.

A court may grant joint physical and legal custody to both parents, sole custody to one parent, or a combination of joint and sole custody.

Any decision regarding child custody must be in a child’s “best interests.” Courts have rather wide discretion to decide what that means since every child’s case is different. Factors that courts consider when deciding child custody include:

  • The child’s age, cognitive abilities, and developmental needs;
  • If the child is at least 14 years old, their wishes regarding custody;
  • Each parent’s relationship with the child;
  • Each parent’s willingness and ability to care for the child, according to the child’s particular needs;
  • Each parent’s willingness to cooperate in raising the child, also known as co-parenting; and
  • Any history of sexual abuse or domestic violence.
couple fighting at home

Why is Hiring a Norfolk Divorce Attorney Beneficial?

Representing yourself in a Norfolk, Virginia divorce case is rarely a good idea, especially when you and your spouse disagree over the children, dividing your joint assets, or other issues. Without knowledge of Virginia family law and the legal system, you could be at a serious disadvantage, especially if your spouse has an attorney. Legal representation by a Norfolk divorce lawyer offers many potential benefits:

  • Understanding of Virginia’s divorce laws;
  • Years of experience handling a variety of family law matters;
  • Support from a law firm’s staff;
  • Objective legal advice that is based on knowledge of the law and a professional assessment of how best to approach your unique circumstances;
  • Avoidance of pitfalls that often affect spouses going through a divorce;
  • Guidance in gathering and preparing evidence that you will need to assert your rights;
  • Fresh perspectives on your issues, as well as ideas and possible solutions that you might have overlooked;
  • Help with difficult and emotional decisions; and
  • Vigorous advocacy on your behalf every step of the way.

If you are facing separation and divorce, contact our office today or schedule a call with one of our client services coordinators.

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Do Not Manage Your Norfolk, VA Divorce Alone

Divorce is a painful and confusing process. Making decisions while going through this kind of turmoil can be difficult. The award-winning divorce lawyers at Melone Hatley, P.C. understand how overwhelming this ordeal can be. The firm has years of experience representing clients in no-fault divorce, military divorce, child custody, child support, alimony, and other family law practice areas.

Melone Hatley, P.C. is a truly well-versed law firm. We have decades of experience helping Norfolk residents reach peaceful, agreeable divorces. If you live in surrounding Hampton Roads areas, like Chesapeake, Virginia Beach, Newport News, or Portsmouth, we can also provide you legal services involving family law, estate planning, and various other areas of litigation. We offer our clients free eBooks, free advice videos, and easy online scheduling. To request a consultation, please call our law office at  800.479.8124  or complete the online contact form to speak with the Melone Hatley, P.C. team about your case.

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