Divorce Without Divorce Court: New Changes in Virginia Law

While many of us find it amusing to watch bickering couples receive a scolding by entertaining television judges, like Judge Judy, or Judge Toler, on the reality TV show, “Divorce Court,” we would gladly avoid entering this type of courtroom if we find ourselves in the midst of the difficult divorce process.

Fact v. Fiction

Fortunately, courtroom television shows rarely depict the realities of the real courtroom process. However, going to court is very scary for most people, and people in the midst of the emotionally trying divorce process are no exception.

Virginia’s New Bill Helps Some Divorcing Couples Avoid the Courtroom

A new law in Virginia will make it possible for parties to get a divorce without having to attend an extended court hearing. Recently approved by the Virginia General Assembly to amend the existing Virginia Code Section 20-106, the Bill allows some parties to present evidence by providing a written and sworn affidavit or written deposition, instead of having to appear in court.

House Bill 126 will allow a written deposition or affidavit in lieu of an in-person testimony. The Bill, which amends Virginia Code Section 20-106, only applies to uncontested, no-fault divorces. These are divorces based on a six-month or one-year separation period and all issues are uncontested. In some cases, this means that all issues have been resolved by a written property settlement agreement (PSA) or that there are no issues, other than the divorce itself. In other cases, it simply means that the other party has decided not to participate in the divorce and has signed a waiver of service or failed to respond to the divorce complaint.

Before House Bill 126: In-person Testimony Required

Previously, the Plaintiff, the person filing the divorce, in an uncontested, no-fault divorce had to appear in court to provide an in-person testimony verifying the facts in the divorce complaint. The Plaintiff was also required to bring a witness, who was not the adverse party, to corroborate his or her testimony. Through House Bill 126, the legislature is no longer requiring that this testimony be given in front of a Judge. The Plaintiff, and his or her witness, can now provide their testimony without ever setting foot into a courtroom.

How to Avoid Court

The first method is a divorce by deposition (written) which requires the Plaintiff and the corroborating witness to provide their testimony in the presence of a court reporter. The court reporter will prepare a transcript of the testimony which the Plaintiff will then submit to the court, typically through his/her attorney. The second method allows the Plaintiff to provide a written affidavit, which must conform to specific requirements, and the witness simply writes their testimony down and signs it in the presence of a notary. Since Virginia law allows any notary to witness the signature, neither the Plaintiff nor the witness need to be located in Virginia to testify via affidavit.

Both of these techniques will allow you to get a divorce without having to attend a full-fledged hearing so the only Divorce Court you will get to experience will be in the comfort of your own home – watching Judge Toler on television.

CONTACT US TODAY: If you’re looking for a Virginia divorce attorney, contact Keithley Law, PLLC today by calling (703) 454-5147 and schedule an initial consultation in our Fairfax law office.

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