Contested vs Uncontested divorce.

What is a Contested divorce in Virginia?
A couple go through a contested divorce when they aren’t able to agree upon one or more
issues in their divorce case, e.g., Child support, spousal support, division of property etc. In order for a contested divorce case to commence, a divorce complaint must be filed by either party in a Virginia Circuit Court. The divorce case can be filed on fault grounds (abandonment, adultery, and cruelty) or it can be filed after one year of separation on “no-fault” grounds. The party who files the divorce complaint first is named the Plaintiff and in his/her complaint for divorce, requests the Court to make a decision regarding the issues that the parties themselves cannot agree upon. These issues can range from child custody, child support and spousal support to distribution of marital assets and marital debt. Filing a contested divorce case sets into motion the legal divorce process which includes discovery process, motions hearings, settlement negotiations; and, if the parties cannot resolve the case via negotiations, then finally a trial where a Judge hears both the parties’ evidence and makes a decision regarding the various issues of divorce.

What is an uncontested divorce case?
In an uncontested divorce both the parties have an agreement on all the issues involved in the case, e.g., custody, visitation, spousal support, child support and division of marital assets and debts. Usually, in an uncontested divorce case, parties negotiate an agreement between themselves and then one party retains an attorney to draft a marital settlement agreement (MSA) based upon the terms of that agreement. Once the MSA is drafted, the other party has his/her attorney review it. After the MSA is finalized by both the parties, three original copies are signed and notarized by the parties. One is kept by either party and the third original copy is filed with the Circuit Court with the divorce complaint and
other documents necessary to complete the divorce upon the completion of appropriate time from the separation date.

If I have a contested divorce case, will it definitely go to trial?
An uncontested divorce does not require expensive litigation and trial as the parties agree
on all the issues from the very beginning. Going through a contested divorce and taking it to trial can be very expensive, lengthy,and stressful process. It is definitely time consuming and complicated in nature and maneuvering your way through the legal system can be complex and stressful. However, simply because you have a contested divorce case does not mean that it cannot be settled and it needs to go to trial. You can and should enter into settlement negotiations despite having a contested case. By coming to an agreement, parties retain control over their case and outcome and avoid unnecessarily running up their cost of litigation.

At Khanna Law our attorneys use their legal knowledge, experience and negotiating skills to successfully resolve complicated divorce cases in our client’s favor. We recognize that trials can be a source of tremendous stress (both financially and otherwise) and so our goal is to enable our clients to come to a settlement by using all the legal tools at our disposal.

In order to speak to our attorneys regarding how to resolve your contested divorce case or to represent you in an uncontested Virginia divorce case, call us at 703-570-4232 or visit us at


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