I live in Virginia. Wife wants me to develope property settlement. Do I have to meet with her before she files for divorce?

Asked almost 2 years ago - Springfield, VA

Separated six months. House is major property to settle. Adult children. I live in house.

Attorney answers (2)

  1. Jennifer E Mandell

    Contributor Level 15

    1

    Lawyer agrees

    Answered . There is no legal requirement that you "meet" with your wife before she files for divorce.

    If you (or your wife) are intendning to file for a divorce in VA based on a 6 month separation, then there IS a legal requirement that you have a fully executed written settlement agreement PRIOR to filing the COmplaint for Divorce.

    I do not recommend that anyone who is not a licensed attorney with experience in the specific area of divorce/family law draft their own property settlement agreement -- anymore than I would recommend that someone who is not an experienced heart surgeon perform by-pass surgery on themselves. It is a binding contract that the court must then enforce as written (per section 20-109 of the Va. Code). In legal contracts, words have very particular meanings. If you are unfamiliar with legal terminology and contract law, as well as substantive divorce law and technical procedural issues, then it is very easy to make mistakes that cannot later be fixed and can be quite costly. So, it may be far more cost-effective overall to hire an attorney to negotiate and draft your PSA, as well as to represent you in the divorce proceeding itself so that it is done correctly and not unduly delayed by pro se mistakes.

    This response does not create an attorney-client relationship and is intended for general information purposes only.
  2. Susan Leslie Fraser

    Pro

    Contributor Level 14

    Answered . Parties can file at any time for divorce IF the facts are 'present'- there are two types of divorce in Virginia, and they depend on different facts. The types are "fault" and "no-fault" divorce. You must have lived separately and apart for one full year before a no-fault divorce decree can be granted UNLESS there are no children born to the parties at any time, or adopted by the parties during the marriage, AND there must be a Marital and Property Settlement Agreement. This is one of those 'you get what you pay for' type of deals: if you obtain one on-line MAKE SURE it's written by a Virginia-licensed attorney, not some unlicensed person in a foreign country. Virginia has some truly peculiar rules about these documents, and as the prior-post stated, it's best to use an attorney to do this because it IS like brain surgery. No matter how well-educated you are, you really need to at least have your draft reviewed by competent counsel- it will end up saving you hundreds if not thousands of dollars.
    Once a party files for divorce, the non-filer MUST be served with a copy of the Complaint: the Virginia rule is that you (as defendant) have the right to 'remove' a case from another jurisdiction if your residence here has lasted for at least six months prior to the date your wife has filed for divorce and she tries to file it in another state *BUT THERE are wrinkles here too, so again, talk to an experienced Domestic Relations Attorney.
    Why you would be concerned about meeting with her in person is 'different'- but legally the only time you MUST appear is if you reside in a county which requires ore tenus (rather than deposition) evidence to complete a no-fault divorce. Your post indicates you live in Springfield- check with the Circuit Court of Fairfax County's website to see if they require ore tenus hearings to occur in Court to prove the facts of a divorce.

    Legal issues often depend on the specific facts in any given case or situation. Please do NOT utilize the... more

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