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Common definitions needed during the divorce process

If you're considering a divorce, it's important to learn some of the common definitions that you'll need before the process begins. Not only will this help you understand the entire process, but it can eliminate confusion and make everything go more smoothly.

First, you may need to file a Bill of Complaint. This can start the process of splitting up. In the Bill of Complaint, the reason that the divorce is required will be listed. It will also request a review to examine things like the division of property and child support payments.

Next, you need to know that divorce is your only option in Virginia; you cannot seek a legal separation. Instead, your relationship will be defined in one of the three following ways: 1) You are living together while you are still married. 2) You are still married but living in separate homes. 3) You have ended your marriage with a divorce.

Now, as you can see, it is very possible to live apart and be legally married, but this still counts as being married in the eyes of the law. A legal separation changes the status of your relationship, and that is not offered in Virginia. It may seem like a minor technicality, but it has implications when looking at child support, custody rights and the like.

Finally, you should know the difference between divorce mediation and legal negotiation. With mediation, an impartial third party makes decisions without taking either side. With negotiation, there are two legal representatives, one for you and one for your spouse, and both work with your own best interests in mind.

Source: The Fairfax County Commission for Women, "Separation and Divorce Information," accessed April. 17, 2015

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