Divorce from spouse residing in Russia

Is it possible to obtain a divorce from a spouse who resides in Russia and whose whereabouts there are unknown? The simple answer to this question is “yes”, it is possible. However, there are certain requirements that must be satisfied before you can file for divorce. To begin with, if you intend to get divorced in Virginia, you must satisfy the jurisdictional requirements to sue for divorce in the Virginia courts. Thus, you must be a bona fide resident of Virginia for at least six months prior to filing of your complaint for divorce. Normally, you can satisfy this requirement by showing that you have paid taxes in Virginia, had your car registered in Virginia, or have been registered to vote in Virginia.

Next, before you can file for divorce, you must be separated from your spouse for a period of six months or more, provided you and your spouse had previously entered into a separation agreement and there are no minor children born to the parties. If you have children that are younger than age 18, then the separation period must be extended to at least one year.

If all of the above requirements are satisfied, then you are ready to meet with an attorney to file your complaint for divorce. The complaint for divorce must be accompanied by an Affidavit for Service by Publication, signed by you, and Order of Publication (both of these documents are normally prepared by an attorney). The Affidavit is required in order to show that you do not know your spouse’s whereabouts and, therefore, are entitled to notify him or her about the divorce proceedings by publishing the notice in one of the local newspapers. If the court is satisfied with the testimony in the Affidavit, the Clerk of the Court will then sign the Order of Publication, ordering the publication of the notice.

In about four to six weeks, you will have to meet again with your attorney for a deposition, during which you and your corroborating witness must testify, among other things, as to your Virginia residency status, the age of your children, if you have any, the period of separation, and etc. This testimony will be transcribed by a court reporter and subsequently used to obtain a final decree of divorce.

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