Virginia Divorce Laws

Understanding Virginia divorce laws is critical for anyone considering applying for separation or divorce in the state. To file in Virginia, you or your spouse must be a resident of the state for at least six months prior to the date of filing. 

At the Law Office of Afsana Chowdhury, PLC, we understand the complexities and nuances of Virginia divorce laws and have the experience to work aggressively to protect your rights. Do not wait to reach out to us for the legal support you need. 

Overview of the Types of Divorce in Virginia

Virginia divorce laws are comprehensive, meaning they cover most situations. There are some basic requirements. For example, as noted above, at least one of the parties must be a resident of the state. If there are no minor children involved in the marriage, you must be separated for at least six months prior to filing for divorce. You also must have a written property settlement agreement. If there are minor children in the marriage, you must be separated for a full year prior to filing for divorce.

Consider the various types of divorce in Virginia.

Uncontested Divorce

An uncontested divorce occurs when both parties agree to ALL the terms of the divorce. It’s not a confrontational proceeding but rather a form of amicable divorce in which both parties agree to the terms, including how property will be divided, who will have custody of any minor children, as well as support issues. It is a faster, more efficient way of divorcing when both parties can come to an agreement on the conditions. This is often called a no-fault divorce. 

Contested Divorce

In a contested divorce, the process is less simplistic in that the parties do not agree on the terms of the divorce, such as property division. In this situation, the spouses ask a judge to make decisions about how to handle various aspects of the divorce. This process tends to take more time and can be stressful, which is why Virginia divorce laws can often be more complex in these matters. The judge must weigh various factors and the parties’ situation to determine the best outcome.  

Absolute Divorce

The term absolute divorce refers to a divorce from the bond of matrimony , called (a vinculo matrimonii). An absolute divorce is a complete divorce, meaning the relationship and all associated aspects of the marriage are over and all property divided.

Bed and Board Divorce

In comparison to an absolute divorce, a bed and board divorce, called a mensa et thoro, is more partial and is a qualified divorce. In this situation, the spouses are legally separated from each other. However, they are not allowed to remarry. It is possible, however, to ask the court to merge a bed and board divorce decree after a year into an absolute divorce.

Legal Separation

Legal separation is another often misunderstood concept in Virginia divorce laws. A divorce from bed and board is the closest thing to a legal separation. However, a legal separation is not required for an absolute divorce, meaning a formal filing is not required for parties to be separated. Parties must simply live separate and apart to be considered separated under the law. This unofficial separation is sufficient to obtain an absolute divorce on no-fault grounds so long as the parties follow certain rules.

What Are the Steps for Filing for Divorce Under Virginia Divorce Laws?

We always recommend working with a divorce attorney in Virginia throughout the entire process. That helps ensure you know your rights and that all steps can be taken to protect you throughout this process. At the Law Office of Afsana Chowdhury, PLC, we will work with you to navigate the Virginia divorce laws to protect those rights.

To help you know what to expect, consider this overview of filing for divorce in Virginia.

Initial Steps

Whenever possible, an uncontested divorce is ideal. For that to happen, it is critical that you work together with your spouse to make decisions about property division, child custody, and child support. Even if this is not possible, you also want to consider what your family’s needs are and how you would like to see things move forward. Don’t focus on fault, but instead on creating a new path forward for your life.

Asset Determination

One of the first steps in a divorce is to determine assets and their value. This includes all real estate, financials in domestic and foreign bank accounts, and property of value, such as art collections. It will also take into consideration insurance policies and retirement accounts. 

Child Custody

Ultimately the court will make a ruling about child custody and support based on the best interests of the child, especially if the spouses cannot agree. Creating a plan yourselves that works for your family is often the best option.

Filing Documents

You’ll work with your divorce attorney in Virginia to file the necessary paperwork with the Fairfax County Circuit Court. There are service requirements that you’ll need to satisfy and many procedural elements that can get tricky if you’re unfamiliar with the process. Our firm has handled hundreds of divorce filings and knows exactly what the court requires.

What Are the Grounds for Divorce in Virginia?

Virginia divorce laws provide a limited number of grounds for filing for divorce. To obtain a divorce from the bonds of matrimony (an absolute divorce), the possible grounds are:

  • Living separately from each other for at least one year or six months if there are no children involved and the parties have a property settlement agreement 
  • Adultery, sodomy, or buggery 
  • Conviction of a felony 

For a limited divorce (a bed and board divorce), which can be merged into an absolute divorce after one year, the grounds are:

  • Willful desertion or abandonment
  • Cruelty and reasonable apprehension of bodily harm

In every situation, it is quite important for you to make claims that are factual and authentic. Our Virginia divorce attorneys will work carefully with you to ensure your rights are protected throughout this process. Whether you intend to pursue an at-fault or no-fault divorce in Virginia, rest assured our team can be by your side throughout it.

The Law Office of Afsana Chowdhury, PLC Can Help You

With years of experience navigating Virginia divorce laws, the Law Office of Afsana Chowdhury, PLC is equipped and ready to work with you to help you through this process. You will want to make sure you are in good hands while navigating such a life-changing event. Let our team guide you and offer assistance.

Set up a consultation today with our law firm serving Northern Virginia.

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