Legal Question in Family Law in Virginia

separation period

What is the amount of time a married couple must be separated before being granted a divorce? Do you have to be separated in order to file for divorce?

Asked on 10/28/06, 9:16 pm

1 Answer from Attorneys

James Wilson James H. Wilson, Jr., Attorney & Counsellor at Law

Re: separation period

You should consult with a Virginia attorney concerning the applicability of the law to the facts of your situation. You should consider marital or family counseling to preserve your marriage. If you find that you and your spouse cannot preserve your marriage, you should consider alternative dispute resolution (ADR) methods such as mediation, which may be faster, less costly and less adversarial than a contested divorce suit. The following is general legal information on the grounds for divorce in Virginia.

A circuit court judge in Virginia may grant a decree of divorce from the bond of matrimony or a final divorce based on fault or no-fault grounds. The fault grounds for a divorce from the bond of matrimony include the following:

1. Adultery, or sodomy or buggery outside the marriage;

2. Conviction, sentenced to confinement for more than a year, and confinement for a felony offense (with no condonation); and

3. Cruelty or reasonable apprehension of bodily hurt (one year waiting period),

4. Desertion or abandonment (one year waiting period).

Defenses to a divorce based on a fault ground include condonation, recrimination, justification for leaving and connivance.

A no-fault divorce may be granted after the husband and wife have lived separate and apart without any cohabitation and without interruption for a year. If the parties have a property settlement agreement and there are no minor children of the marriage, or born by either and adopted by the other, or adopted by both, then a no-fault divorce may be granted after the parties have lived separate and apart without any cohabitation and without interruption for six (6) months.

A party may immediately file for a divorce from bed and board on the grounds of cruelty, reasonable apprehension of bodily hurt, willful desertion or abandonment with no waiting period. A divorce from bed and board does not allow the parties to remarry, but the parties are declared to be perpetually separated and protected in their persons and property. If you are considering the dissolution of your marriage which cannot be saved through counseling or settled through ADR, you should discuss with your attorney the advantages and disadvantages of immediately seeking a divorce from bed and board rather than waiting for a final divorce.

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Answered on 10/29/06, 6:29 am

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