How to Start the Virginia Divorce Process
It’s not an easy thing, starting to gather information about the divorce process. It’s not easy for anyone, so if you’re feeling like it’s gut wrenching, you’re not alone.
I met so many women who are going through or have recently gone through a divorce that I can tell you – the emotions involved run the gamut. Some are heartbroken. Some are angry. Some cry through the entire appointment. Some are convinced. All, though, express some degree of loss and sadness over how it all transpired. Even if they’re certain, on the day of their initial consultation, that it’s all over, they express sadness at the parts of the story that got them to where they are now.
The stories are all different, but the emotion behind them is the same. It’s sad, and it’s difficult, and you hoped – so many times! – that you could make it work. In fact, you’ve likely done absolutely everything it’s possible to do to try to help things to work before you even came in to a divorce attorney’s office.
Women do not take the decision to divorce lightly. It’s actually one thing that I wish I could tell people who aren’t getting a divorce. Every so often, they’ll say things to me like, “What you do is so sad!” or “ I could never get a divorce!” Or, even worse: “People just don’t take marriage seriously anymore.”
I can’t think of statements that are further from the truth than these. They’re not helpful, and they’re not true – and, really, if they’re neither of those things, I’m not sure why someone would even say them. And, yet, they do. With alarming frequency.
Though I think that, for the most part, the people who are saying these things really can’t understand what they’re saying. If you’ve only ever known a happy, fulfilling marriage, what would you know about an unhappy marriage? If you’re judging the experiences of others based only on your own happy experiences, you may not be able to understand the driving factors that bring them to sit tearfully in a divorce lawyer’s office.
To you, reader, I say: don’t listen to these things. People will likely say them, whether to you or just around you, and I don’t want you to listen to it. Don’t internalize it, as so many of us women are all too likely to do. Tell yourself that, just because something is not someone else’s lived experience doesn’t mean that it’s not yours. It doesn’t mean that you didn’t try hard enough, or that your marriage is just a statistic. It doesn’t mean you’re giving up. It doesn’t mean anything, other than that your marriage is over, that you gave it all you had, and that you’re freeing yourself up to create a different future for yourself.
It’s a hard thing for modern women to prioritize themselves and their own happiness, and I’m so proud of you for doing it. It’s not so much the divorce as the assertion that there are better things out there for you, and that you’re not going to be afraid to seek them. It’s certainly a better, healthier, happier choice than staying in an unhappy marriage just because you don’t want to have to get a divorce.
To you, reader, I say bravo. Facing the decision is the first step, and now you’re ready to accept more information.
Now, you’re ready to learn about how to start the divorce process. It’s not good, it’s not bad – it just is, and its time for you to start thinking about the future you’d create for yourself, and how to get yourself from where you are now to where you’d like to be.
Step 1: Request a free copy of our divorce book.
It’s hard to get up to date, accurate, Virginia specific divorce information and, if you just start Googling, you’ll probably end up all over the place.
Reading the book is a good place to start for a lot of reasons, but probably mostly because it presents the information in a clear, organized format. Rather than jumping all over the place, you can read about the process in logical order.
Sure, you’ll have more questions as you go along – more on that in a minute – but at least you won’t be reading about going to court one minute, agreements the next, and then about the discovery process in Virginia without getting any sense of how all those things work together. Patience, grasshopper! It’s better to understand things in order, so you can see the progression and understand how the pieces begin to work together.
Step 2: Attend a Virginia divorce seminar for women.
The next step is to take what you’ve learned and attend one of our monthly divorce seminars. It’s a great way to build on the information you learned in the book, ask questions, and have the information presented in a different format.
Each seminar is presented by one of our licensed, experienced Virginia divorce attorneys for women, so we’ve seen and heard it all (or almost all) and can answer any question you have. Our seminars are, at least for the moment, all on Zoom, but there are plenty of opportunities to ask your questions directly to the attorney and get a live answer.
Step 3: Browse our divorce and custody library by topic, for more information.
We’ve got tons of resources here, on pretty much every single question you could think to ask. And, even if you haven’t thought to ask it yet, we’ve tried to structure our articles so they lead you down the path to the information you need at this particular moment.
If you use the search bar, you can look for articles on a specific topic. Each article has links to other articles with more information on particular topics, so ideally it’ll just help you bop along from relevant topic to relevant topic, becoming more and more informed all the while.
Don’t forget to look at our other free books and reports, either – we’ve written a lot on important topics that we see in family law cases, and those will likely help answer your questions, too!
Step 4: Schedule a consultation.
Now that you know a lot more about divorce – and, probably, more than your husband does! – it’s probably time to consider a consultation. Sure, you could try to do it yourself, attend mediation, or pursue collaborative divorce instead, but it’s also a good idea to talk one on one with a licensed, experienced Virginia divorce and custody lawyer for women who can look at your situation and point out things that you maybe hadn’t considered.
Remember: a divorce attorney’s job is to do two things. First, get you divorced. And, second, to minimize any future problems down the road – because it doesn’t help to get divorced only to end up with still other problems to resolve.
The more you know now, the better your decisions will be, which is important for your own sake and for the sake of your children. There are a lot of decisions to be made at the beginning of the process, so the information you gather now will only help you as your case progresses.
We’re here to help! If you need more information, please feel free to reach out. Give us a call at 757-425-5200 if we can help you formulate a plan moving forward.