How Can I File for Divorce for Free in Virginia?
By Teo Spengler
Updated March 16, 2019
It's possible to file for divorce in Virginia for very little money if you are low income and file a no-fault petition. Use the free divorce forms available from the court and apply for waiver of filing fees.
Divorce in Virginia
Divorces in Virginia are generally as costly as anywhere else and more complicated than some other jurisdictions. The state retains a "fault" divorce process, where a spouse charges the other with misdeeds and proves the allegations to get a quick dissolution of the marriage.
But Virginia also offers a no-fault divorce. In order to get a no-fault divorce, however, you must prove that you and your spouse have been separated for six to 12 months. The six-month rule applies if you have minor children and have signed a settlement agreement. Otherwise, you'll have to count down a year.
Obviously, you'll pay less overall for an uncontested no-fault divorce, since your court time will be limited, and your need for legal help reduced. Fault divorces are usually heavily contested by the other party and are extremely difficult to manage without an attorney.
Read More: How to File an Uncontested Divorce in the Commonwealth of Virginia
Divorce Costs in Virginia
The two primary expenses you'll run into when you consider filing divorce papers in Virginia are: 1) legal assistance costs to complete your petition and file your papers; and 2) the court filing fee. You can avoid paralegal or attorney costs by using free Virginia divorce forms online and filling them out yourself. Avoid filing fees by asking the court for a fee waiver if you qualify.
Virginia Divorce Forms Online
From the Virginia courts website, you'll find a link to Virginia Legal Aid's LawHelp Interactive, an online do-it-yourself interview that helps you determine if your circumstances are appropriate for filing for a self-help divorce.
As part of the interview, you provide information that fills in required court pleadings forms. After the interview, you can print out the filled-in forms to file.
It may also be possible for low-income people seeking divorce to get legal assistance at a Virginia Legal Aid office. Call 1-866-LEGLAID (1-866-534-5243) to ask about whether you qualify.
Petition for Fee Waiver
It costs several hundred dollars to file a complaint in Virginia, and the exact amount depends on the county and whether you wish the Sheriff to deliver a copy of the petition to your spouse. People with very low income might qualify for a fee waiver.
A petition for fee waiver in Virginia is called a Petition for Proceeding in Civil Case without Payment of Fees or Costs. The application is granted only for low-income Virginia residents.
To apply for this fee waiver, fill out the application. It asks for your name and identifying information as well as financial information. If it is granted, you can file without paying for fees and costs.
- Filing for divorce without an attorney is not recommended.
Teo Spengler earned a J.D. from U.C. Berkeley's Boalt Hall. As an Assistant Attorney General in Juneau, she practiced before the Alaska Supreme Court and the U.S. Supreme Court before opening a plaintiff's personal injury practice in San Francisco. She holds both an M.A. and an M.F.A in creative writing and enjoys writing legal blogs and articles. Her work has appeared in numerous online publications including USA Today, Legal Zoom, eHow Business, Livestrong, SF Gate, Go Banking Rates, Arizona Central, Houston Chronicle, Navy Federal Credit Union, Pearson, Quicken.com, TurboTax.com, and numerous attorney websites. Spengler splits her time between the French Basque Country and Northern California.