Virginia law allows for both fault-based and no-fault divorces. Divorce can be granted on fault grounds such as adultery, cruelty, desertion, or conviction of a felony involving at least one year of confinement. While an action for divorce based upon adultery can be filed immediately, the remaining fault grounds require a one-year waiting period.

The waiting period for a fault-based divorce begins to run once the parties separate. No agreement or court order is necessary to create or memorialize the separation. If there is a dispute about whether the parties have been separated for the required time period, a trial court will consider whether the parties have continued behaving as husband and wife (continued sexual relations, cooking and eating together, laundry and/or other normal household tasks on one another’s behalf) and whether the parties have continued to hold themselves out to third parties as husband and wife (attending social functions together, etc.). In some cases, parties have been found to have been separated despite continuing to reside under the same roof.

Divorce based upon having lived separate and apart, otherwise known as “no-fault divorce,” can be granted when parties have been separated for one year or more. However, if the parties have no minor children, and have entered into a written settlement agreement resolving all divorce-related issues, a no-fault divorce may be granted when the parties have been separated for only six-months.

The following are some common legal and factual issues related to divorce:

  • Where should a divorce case be filed?
  • How long does it take to get a final divorce?
  • Are there different consequences for different fault grounds?
  • What happens if both spouses are guilty of fault?
  • If one spouse leaves the marital residence, is he or she guilty of desertion?
  • Can a divorce be based upon mental cruelty or verbal abuse?
  • Should spouses enter into a formal separation agreement prior to filing for divorce?
  • Are spouses free to date other people after separation but before the divorce?

To view statutory law relevant to divorce, follow this link to Code Sections

To view case law relevant to divorce, follow this link to Case Finder

To obtain legal advice concerning divorce or other family law issues, please contact Raynor & Farmer, P.C.