Regardless of the type of divorce, in every case the first step is to file a complaint with the appropriate district family court. The filing fee for this will vary from county to county, but can be expected to range between $100-400. If you are unable to afford to pay this, you may request a waiver stating you do not have the necessary financial resources. When budgeting for this expense when determining how much does a divorce cost in Virginia, consider your fiscal health.
You have the option of personally delivering a copy of the complaint yourself. For couples who have agreed to cooperate before filing for divorce, there will be no need to pay a sheriff or process server to deliver these papers. After the papers are filed, a spouse may choose to waive their right to contest the divorce proceedings. Alternately, they may file an official response disputing any part of the divorce papers. There will be an additional charge assessed for this. Make sure to separate joint and single expenses when determining how much does a divorce cost in Virginia.
If no official response is lodged, the couple will have plenty of time in the pretrial process to negotiate a mutually acceptable separation agreement. Areas that will need to be resolved include:
• Child custody arrangements
• Visitation rights
• Child support payments
• Alimony payments
• Payment of mutual debts
• Division of shared property
When both spouses have drafted this agreement and there is no attempt by either side to prove wrongdoing committed by the other person, an “ore tenus” hearing may be granted. This allows a judge to look over the separation agreement and make sure it is legally acceptable. Every step of this process can be completed without retaining the help of an attorney, which will lower your estimate of how much does a divorce cost in Virginia.
In addition to court-supervised pretrial meetings, some couples may decide they are willing to share the expense of a divorce mediator, who may or may not be an attorney. This neutral third party will help both parties attempt to reach an agreement on areas of dispute.
People who feel they may need private legal counsel at any point in the divorce process will need to make sure they can afford this kind of representation. Lawyers of this type generally charge by the hour and can be very expensive, greatly adding to your estimate of how much does a divorce cost in Virginia. Be sure to obtain a detailed, written estimate of how much you can expect to pay for the help of a Virginia divorce lawyer.
In awarding child support, judges make take into consideration any factor they consider to have a bearing upon the case. While you may draw up a detailed estimate in advance, a judge is the person with ultimate authority in deciding how much does a divorce cost in Virginia.