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Virginia Divorce Definitions

This collection of definitions will help clarify some unique characteristics to the Virginia Divorce laws, process and paperwork which is filed with the court.

Filing Party Title:
Complainant

The spouse who will initiate the Divorce by filing the required paperwork with the court.

Non-Filing Party Title:
Defendant

The spouse who does not initiate the Divorce with the court.

Court Name:
Virginia: In the __________ Court of ___________.

The proper name of the court in which a Divorce is filed in the state of Virginia. Each jurisdictional court typically has a domestic relations or a family law department or division.

Child Support Enforcement Website:
http://www.dss.state.va.us/family/dcse.html

The state run office devoted to enforcing existing child support orders and collecting any past due child support.

Document Introduction:
In Re the Marriage of:

The lead-in verbiage used in the legal caption or header of the documents filed with the court. The introduction typically prefaces both spouse’s names.

Initial Divorce Document:
Bill of Complaint for Divorce

The title and name of the legal document that will initiate the Virginia Divorce process. The filing spouse is also required to provide the non-filing spouse a copy of this document.

Final Divorce Document:
Decree of Divorce

The title and name of the legal document that will finalize the Virginia Divorce process. This document will be signed by the judge, master, or referee of the court to declare your marriage officially terminated.

Clerk’s Office Name:
County Clerk’s Office of the Family Court

The office of the clerk that will facilitate the Divorce process. This is the title you would address letters to or ask for when contacting the courthouse.

Legal Separation:

The grounds for legal separation are: (1) cruelty; (2) willful desertion; (3) abandonment; and (4) reasonable apprehension of bodily injury. One of the spouses must have been a resident of Virginia for at least 6 months prior to filing for legal separation. [Code of Virginia; Title 20, Sections 20-95 and 20-97].

Property Distribution:
Equitable Distribution

The applicable Virginia law that will dictate how property and debt is to be divided upon Divorce.