Starting July 1, 2012, Virginia residents may have an easier path to finalizing a divorce. Governor Bob McDonnell approved changes to Virginia Code Section 20-99 loosening the notice requirements in divorce cases. The new portion of that Code section (which deals with how suits for divorce are instituted) reads as follows:
In cases where such suits have been commenced, the defendant has been served pursuant to the provisions of subdivision 1 of [Virginia Code Section] 8.01-296, and the defendant has failed to file an answer to the suit or otherwise appear within the time allowed by law, no further notice to take depositions is required to be served on the defendant and the court may enter any order or final decree without further notice to the defendant.
In other words, when a defendant in a divorce proceeding was personally served with the Complaint for Divorce and fails to answer, respond, or appear before the court within 21 days of being served, the plaintiff can complete depositions and submit the case for entry of a divorce decree without having to serve the defendant with additional notices. Prior to this change, the defendant was entitled to receive notice of depositions and notice of any request for entry of a divorce decree.
This change will have a large impact on uncontested divorces, where plaintiffs could previously be held hostage by defendants refusing to cooperate with a divorce for reasons having to do more with form than substance. The attorneys at Livesay & Myers, P.C., are already skilled at quickly resolving uncontested divorces, and this change will allow us to process these divorces that much faster.
Our Virginia divorce lawyers are experienced in handling contested and uncontested divorce cases for clients throughout Northern Virginia, from our offices in Manassas, Fredericksburg and Fairfax, Virginia. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.