Divorce can be a complicated and emotional process, and the need for your spouse’s signature may further complicate matters.
In Virginia, however, it is possible to obtain a divorce without your spouse’s signature under certain circumstances, including in an uncontested divorce.
Keep reading to learn about your options for divorcing your spouse without their signature and cases in which their signature would be required.
No-Fault Divorce in Virginia
Virginia allows for no-fault divorces, meaning you can seek a divorce without assigning blame or proving misconduct on the part of your spouse.
To proceed with a no-fault divorce, you must be separated from your spouse for at least six months, depending on the presence of minor children and whether the you and your ex have a separation agreement in place.
If you and your spouse have lived separately for the required time, you can proceed with a no-fault divorce without their signature. After receiving the complaint, your spouse will have 21 days to respond.
In the event that your spouse does not respond to the complaint, you still don’t need their signature—the divorce will move forward.
Divorce by Publication
Virginia law allows for divorce by publication in cases where your spouse is missing or cannot be located. This option requires diligent efforts to find your spouse, including attempts through reliable channels such as registered mail, process servers, and newspaper publication.
If, after these documented efforts, your spouse still cannot be found, you can ask the court for permission to serve them by publication. This option means you must publish a legal notice in a local (Virginia) newspaper for a set amount of time, generally four weeks.
In addition to the publication, your spouse will be notified by mail at their last known address of the order of publication. If they still do not respond, you can move forward with the divorce process without their signature and secure your divorce.
For this option, you must be a current resident of Virginia, and your spouse’s last known address must be a Virginia address.
Contested Divorce Process
In situations where your spouse refuses to sign divorce papers or actively contests the divorce, whether custody of minor children or marital property is contested, the process may become more complicated. If the divorce is contested or if your spouse responds to the divorce complaint, you will need your spouse’s signature to proceed.
In such cases, it’s essential to consult an experienced divorce attorney who can guide you through the legal requirements and potential steps needed to proceed. They can help you navigate the court system, protect your best interests, and protect your rights throughout the contested divorce process.
While obtaining a divorce without your spouse’s signature is possible in Virginia, following the correct legal procedures and requirements is essential. Seeking legal advice is strongly recommended to ensure that your rights are protected and that you understand the steps you need to take within the Virginia legal system.
Talk With a Divorce Attorney
A divorce attorney can provide valuable guidance and support during this challenging time and help you secure your divorce as quickly as possible, with or without your spouse’s signature. Contact Virginia Family Law Center, P.C., today to discuss your divorce options with a free consultation.