Monumental Procedural Shifts in Uncontested Divorce Filings

On July 1, 2019 the law regarding no-fault divorces where service has been waived changed dramatically in both VA Code § 20-99.1:1 and § 20-106

VA Code § 20-99.1:1 How a Defendant May Accept or Waive Service

The law used to read:

A. A defendant in such suits may accept service of process by signing the proof of service before any officer authorized to administer oaths. This proof of service shall, when filed with the papers in the suit, have the same effect as if it had been served upon the defendant by a person authorized to serve process. In addition, service of process may be accepted or waived by any party, upon voluntary execution of a notarized writing specifying an intent to accept or waive any particular process, or by a defendant by filing an answer in the suit. Such notarized writing may be provided in the clerk's office of any circuit court and may be signed by such party to the proceedings before any clerk or deputy clerk of any circuit court, under oath, or may be drafted and filed by counsel in the proceeding, and shall, when filed with the papers in the suit, have the same effect as if the process specified had been personally served upon the defendant by a person authorized to serve process. The court may enter any order or decree without further notice unless a defendant has filed an answer in the suit.

Va. Code Ann. § 20-99.1:1 (2018).

 

The following is the 2019 law with the new language bolded:

A.  A defendant in such suits may accept service of process by signing the proof of service before any officer authorized to administer oaths. This proof of service shall, when filed with the papers in the suit, have the same effect as if it had been served upon the defendant by a person authorized to serve process. In addition, service of process may be accepted or waived by any party, upon voluntary execution of a notarized writing specifying an intent to accept or waive any particular process, or by a defendant by filing an answer in the suit. Such notarized writing may be provided in the clerk's office of any circuit court and may be signed by such party to the proceedings before any clerk or deputy clerk of any circuit court, under oath, or may be drafted and filed by counsel or a pro se party in the proceeding, and shall, when filed with the papers in the suit, have the same effect as if the process specified had been personally served upon the defendant by a person authorized to serve process. For a suit for a no-fault divorce under subdivision A (9) of § 20-91, any such waiver may occur within a reasonable time prior to or after the suit is filed, provided that a copy of the complaint is attached to such waiver, or is otherwise provided to the defendant, and the final decree of divorce as proposed by the complainant is signed by the defendant. The court may enter any order or decree without further notice unless a defendant has filed an answer in the suit.

Va. Code Ann. § 20-99.1:1 (2019).

 

Summary:

            The essence of this change is that pro se parties now have to sign the final decree for divorce even if they had signed a waiver of service. This should not slow down the process of your divorce because waiver of service and the divorce decree can be signed at the same time. 

 

VA Code § 20-106 Testimony may be required to be given orally; evidence by affidavit.

            The changes to this statute in subpart (F) now allow all documents for the divorce to be filed contemporaneously. The law used to require filing of the complaint and supporting documents first and then file things like affidavits, a decree, a PSA, or a marriage certificate later on. This change should speed up the filing process for most divorces. 

 

We Can Help

            If you need a lawyer to help you through the difficult process that is divorce please call one of our offices at (804) 325-1245 (Richmond) or (757) 941-4298 (Williamsburg) so you can meet with one of our attorneys who can guide you through this trying time in your life.

 

Editorial Assistance: Michael Gee 

 

 

H. Van Smith
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