Grounds for divorce
Limited divorce (Legal Separation)
General divorce procedure
Mediation or counseling
Rights to Maiden Name
A divorce from the bond of matrimony in the state of Virginia may be granted on the following grounds:
- For adultery; or for sodomy or buggery committed outside the marriage;
- Where either of the parties subsequent to the marriage has been convicted of a felony, sentenced to confinement for more than one year and confined for such felony subsequent to such conviction, and cohabitation has not been resumed after knowledge of such confinement (in which case no pardon granted to the party so sentenced shall restore such party to his or her conjugal rights);
- Where either party has been guilty of cruelty, caused reasonable apprehension of bodily hurt, or willfully deserted or abandoned the other, such divorce may be decreed to the innocent party after a period of one year from the date of such act; or
- On the application of either party if and when the husband and wife have lived separate and apart without any cohabitation and without interruption for one year. In any case where the parties have entered into a separation agreement and there are no minor children either born of the parties, born of either party and adopted by the other or adopted by both parties, a divorce may be decreed on application if and when the husband and wife have lived separately and apart without cohabitation and without interruption for six months. A plea of res judicata or of recrimination with respect to any other provision of this section shall not be a bar to either party obtaining a divorce on this ground; nor shall it be a bar that either party has been adjudged insane, either before or after such separation has commenced, but at the expiration of one year or six months, whichever is applicable, from the commencement of such separation, the grounds for divorce shall be deemed to be complete, and the committee of the insane defendant, if there be one, shall be made a party to the cause, or if there be no committee, then the court shall appoint a guardian ad litem to represent the insane defendant.
The divorce decree shall include either each parties SS Number or driver license ID numbers. (Code of Virginia-Title 20-§ 20-91)
What is the difference between fault divorce and no-fault divorce?
What is known as Legal Separation in other states in Virginia is called “Limited divorce”, or divorce from bed and board.
The grounds for Limited Divorce are the same as for an absolute divorce.
A divorce from bed and board may be decreed for cruelty, reasonable apprehension of bodily hurt, willful desertion or abandonment. (Code of Virginia-Title 20-§ 20-95)
You may file for divorce in Virginia if either spouse was a lawful VA resident for at least six months before the commencement of the suit; at least one of the parties shall be a domiciliary of the State of VA at the time the action for divorce was commenced.
If a member of the armed forces of the United States has been stationed or resided in this Commonwealth and has lived for a period of six months or more in this Commonwealth next preceding the commencement of the suit, then such person shall be presumed to be domiciled in and to have been a bona fide resident of this Commonwealth during such period of time. (Code of Virginia-Title 20- § 20-97)
A spouse may file for divorce in the county where a family last resided as husband and wife, or in the county where a defendant resides, or in the county where Plaintiff (a filing spouse) resides if another spouse left the state.
Costs may be awarded to either party as equity and justice may require.
Virginia is an Equitable Distribution state, meaning that if parties cannot agree on property distribution a judge will divide marital property as he/she sees just.
Among the factors taken into consideration by the judge determining division of property are:
- The age and health of each spouse.
- The length of the marriage.
- The income and assets of each spouse at the time of the marriage and at the time of the separation or divorce; the contributions of each party to the well-being of the family.
- The tax consequences to each party.
- If there are children, whether the custodial parent needs the family home and its furnishings after the divorce.
- The likely financial outlook for each spouse after the divorce.
Marital property is (i) all property titled in the names of both parties, whether as joint tenants, tenants by the entirety or otherwise, except as provided by subdivision A 3, (ii) that part of any property classified as marital pursuant to subdivision A 3, or (iii) all other property acquired by each party during the marriage which is not separate property as defined above.
All property including that portion of pensions, profit-sharing or deferred compensation or retirement plans of whatever nature, acquired by either spouse during the marriage, and before the last separation of the parties, if at such time or thereafter at least one of the parties intends that the separation be permanent, is presumed to be marital property in the absence of satisfactory evidence that it is separate property. For purposes of this section marital property is presumed to be jointly owned unless there is a deed, title or other clear indicia that it is not jointly owned. (Code of Virginia-Title 20-§ 20-107.3)
In determining custody, the court shall give primary consideration to the best interests of the child. Therefore, child custody will be granted to a parent (or parents in joint custody) that can provide the best care for the children under given circumstances.
"Joint custody" means a) joint legal custody where both parents retain joint responsibility for the care and control of the child and joint authority to make decisions concerning the child even though the child's primary residence may be with only one parent, b) joint physical custody where both parents share physical and custodial care of the child, or c) any combination of joint legal and joint physical custody which the court deems to be in the best interest of the child. (Code of Virginia, Title 20, § 20-124)
"Sole custody" means that one person retains responsibility for the care and control of a child and has primary authority to make decisions concerning the child. (Code of Virginia, Title 20, § 20-124.1)
Determining child custody issue courts will consider a combination of factors, such as age of parents, children’s wishes, health of parents, financial stability and earning capacity of each parent, etc.
The court, in its discretion, may decree that maintenance and support of a spouse be made in periodic payments for a defined duration, or in periodic payments for an undefined duration, or in a lump sum award, or in any combination thereof. (Code of Virginia, Title 20, § 20-107.1)
The court, in determining whether to award support and maintenance for a spouse, shall consider the circumstances and factors which contributed to the dissolution of the marriage, specifically including adultery In determining the nature, amount and duration of an award the court shall consider the following:
- The obligations, needs and financial resources of the parties, including but not limited to income from all pension, profit sharing or retirement plans, of whatever nature;
- The standard of living established during the marriage;
- The duration of the marriage;
- The age and physical and mental condition of the parties and any special circumstances of the family;
- The extent to which the age, physical or mental condition or special circumstances of any child of the parties would make it appropriate that a party not seek employment outside of the home;
- The contributions, monetary and nonmonetary, of each party to the well-being of the family;
- The property interests of the parties, both real and personal, tangible and intangible;
- The earning capacity, including the skills, education and training of the parties and the present employment opportunities for persons possessing such earning capacity;
- The opportunity for, ability of, and the time and costs involved for a party to acquire the appropriate education, training and employment to obtain the skills needed to enhance his or her earning ability;
- The decisions regarding employment, career, economics, education and parenting arrangements made by the parties during the marriage and their effect on present and future earning potential, including the length of time one or both of the parties have been absent from the job market;
- The extent to which either party has contributed to the attainment of education, training, career position or profession of the other party; and
- Such other factors, including the tax consequences to each party, as are necessary to consider the equities between the parties.
(Code of Virginia, Title 20, § 20-107.1)
Mediation is vigorously encouraged by VA courts because mediation calls to help spouses to reach an agreement on child custody and parenting arrangements, marital property distribution, pension division and maintenance.
The wife’s maiden name may be restored by court upon request.