In the Commonwealth of Virginia – unlike some other states – there is no legal separation that couples can choose in lieu of divorce. The closest you can come to this is a property settlement agreement (PSA), which is a contract that can also be used to guide the separation requirement (living separately for at least six months or one year) necessary to obtain a divorce in Virginia.
Finally, your PSA sets the terms of your divorce (or the terms that you and your divorcing spouse are able to negotiate outside of court). Agreeing to a PSA that works for you now and that protects your parental and financial rights into the future is fundamental to your post-divorce future, which makes working with an experienced Virginia divorce attorney paramount.
Working out a PSA with your divorcing spouse helps to put the focus on negotiations and can save you time and expense in the long run. Further, if you and your divorcing spouse have no shared children, having a PSA allows you to move forward with finalizing your divorce in as little as a six-month mandatory separation. Your PSA is a binding contractual obligation that can address all the basic terms of your divorce, including:
There is, however, no limit to how detailed your PSA can be, and you can address specifics within these terms that the court simply will not. This means that you can tailor your PSA to your unique circumstances.
The primary advantage of having a PSA in place is that it allows you and your divorcing spouse to keep the important decisions that directly affect you and your children’s futures between yourselves. Many divorcing couples find this highly motivating and are willing to put in the additional effort to make it happen. An important point to make here is that you don’t have to go it alone when it comes to these negotiations. Your respective divorce attorneys can negotiate on your behalf, and there are alternative dispute resolution (ADR) options, such as mediation, that your dedicated divorce attorney can help you explore.
While your executed PSA is a legally binding contract, it does not finalize your divorce. In other words, you remain married – and any outside romantic relationships you cultivate can be considered adultery during your divorce proceedings (unless the matter is addressed in the PSA itself). Once your divorce is finalized, which only the court can accomplish, the terms of your PSA can be incorporated therein and become enforceable by the court. Prior to this, they are only enforceable contractually.
The focused Virginia divorce attorneys at Virginia Family Law Center have a wealth of experience helping our clients hammer out favorable PSAs on the path toward divorce. To learn more, please don’t hesitate to contact us today.
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