Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ answers some of the most common questions our firm receives about bankruptcy and divorce in Virginia.

What is an uncontested, no-fault divorce?

An uncontested, no-fault divorce is a divorce between two parties that completely agree on every aspect of the divorce including spousal support, child support, child custody and property division (equitable distribution).

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What is a separation agreement?

A separation agreement is a written, signed and notarized agreement between husband and wife that records the agreements they have made regarding the dissolution of their marriage. A separation agreement is not a “legal separation”. In Virginia, a separation occurs when one spouse decides to end the marriage and one spouse leaves the marital residence for the purposes of ending the marriage. No other documentation is required to have a “legal separation”, however, a separation agreement will better protect your interest.

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What is the difference between secured debt and unsecured debt?

There a two general types of debts, secured and unsecured. The treatment of secured debts and unsecured debts varies greatly in bankruptcy.

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What are the grounds for divorce in Virginia?

Virginia law recognizes two types of divorce: divorce from bed and board (a mensa et thoro) and a divorce from the bond of matrimony (a vinculo matrimonii). A divorce from bed and board is a partial or qualified divorce under which a husband and wife are legally separated from each other but are not permitted to remarry. A divorce from the bond of matrimony is a complete and absolute divorce. Any person granted a divorce from bed and board may ask the court to “merge” the decree into a divorce from the bond of matrimony after at least one year has passed from the date the parties originally separated.

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How long does it take to get an uncontested divorce?

An uncontested divorce is a divorce in which both spouses have agreed to all terms of the divorce. If you and your spouse are fighting over even one issue in a divorce, your divorce is not uncontested.

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How long do I have to be separated before my divorce?

If a divorce is granted on the grounds of adultery, there is no waiting period of separation required under Virginia law. All other grounds for divorce, including an uncontested, no-fault divorce, require a separation period of one year before a divorce can be granted unless there are no children and a written legal separation agreement has been signed by both parties. If there are no children and a written separation agreement has been filed, a divorce can be filed after a six month separation period.

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Does filing bankruptcy stop repossession?

Filing chapter 13 bankruptcy will stop car repossession and allow you to resume normal payments on your car and pay the back car payments through the bankruptcy court. In some cases, a debtor can reduce car a car payment and restructure a car loan through the chapter 13 bankruptcy plan filed with the court.

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Does filing bankruptcy stop foreclosure?

Bankruptcy stops foreclosure instantly. From the moment a bankruptcy is filed by our bankruptcy lawyers, any attempt to collect a debt or other court proceeding, including foreclosure, is stopped by the bankruptcy court. By developing a repayment plan, our bankruptcy attorneys can successfully restructure payment of your late mortgage payments (called mortgage arrears).

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Do I need a copy of my credit report to file bankruptcy?

Bankruptcy laws require debtors to list all of their debts and assets on their bankruptcy petition. It may be helpful to have a copy of your credit report before you file bankruptcy, but getting a copy of your credit report before you file bankruptcy is not a requirement.

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Can Social Security overpayments be discharged in bankruptcy?

Social Security overpayments are treated as unsecured debts and can be discharged in bankruptcy similar to credit card and medical debt eventhough they are debts owed to the government. However, if you have committed Social Security fraud, the Social Security Administration may object to your bankruptcy discharge and ask that the overpayment to Social Security be exempted from the debts that are discharged. If SSA believes you accepted payments to which you were not entitled and you knew that you should not be receiving the payments or had committed some other act of fraud on SSA, your Social Security overpayment may not be able to be discharged.

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Can I Still File Bankruptcy Under the New Bankruptcy Law?

The new bankruptcy law has certainly made filing bankruptcy more complicated and time consuming, but the bankruptcy lawyers at our office have adapted successfully to the changes in the new law are experts in the field. One of the most complicated parts of the new bankruptcy law is the bankruptcy means test. The bankruptcy means test is a mathematical calculation used to help determine whether or not a debtor will file a chapter 7 bankruptcy or chapter 13 bankruptcy.

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