Grounds For Divorce in Virginia

Getting a divorce in Virginia is complicated. Indeed, not only is divorce in itself an emotional and frustrating thing to pursue, but the state of Virginia recognizes two distinct types of divorce and maintains “grounds” for divorce as well. This means that to get a divorce in the state, a divorce-seeking party must give grounds, or reasons, for why the divorce should occur. The following reviews the two types of divorce in Virginia, as well as different grounds on which divorce may be sought.

Two Types of Divorce in Virginia

The two types of legal divorce from one’s spouse in Virginia include a divorce from bed and board, and a divorce from the bond of matrimony. As explained by the Virginia State Bar – An Agency of the Supreme Court of Virginia, the former, a divorce from bed and board, is only a partial divorce. When a party seeks a divorce from bed and board and said divorce type is granted, they will be legally separated, but not permitted to remarry. If a party wishes to remarry, it is important that they have a divorce from the bond of matrimony, which is a complete divorce. If a divorce from bed and board is sought, parties may seek a divorce from the bond of matrimony later; the transition can be made after one year has passed from the original date of separation.

Grounds for Divorce in Virginia

The state recognizes different grounds depending upon the type of divorce that is being sought. For a divorce from bed and board, grounds include:

  • Abandonment or willful desertion. When parties separate because of mutual agreement, the grounds for abandonment or willful desertion have not been satisfied; instead, a party must leave the other spouse, and have an “intent to desert.”
  • Cruelty. If a party has reasonable grounds to believe that they are at risk of bodily harm because of an action of their spouse, or if they are a victim of cruelty, which is conduct that endangers the mental or physical health or a divorce-seeking spouse, a divorce from bed and board may be granted.

To be granted a divorce from the bond of matrimony, there are separate grounds that must be satisfied. These grounds are:

  • No-fault grounds and separation. If a married couple has lived separate and apart for a timeframe of not less than one year, then a divorce from the bond of matrimony will be granted based on this separation period alone. This is called a “no-fault” divorce, as neither party is alleging a specific grounds, like cruelty, for the divorce. A divorce can also be granted in as little as six months’ time if the couple does not have children, and if they agree about how property should be divided.
  • Adultery. A spouse may also seek a divorce since their partner has committed an act of adultery (or sodomy or buggery). To seek divorce based on adultery, the divorce-seeking spouse must have evidence of the adultery.
  • Felony conviction. Finally, a divorce may be sought when one party in the marriage is convicted of a felony and sentenced to an incarceration period of at least one year or more. In order for divorce to be granted on this ground, the non-convicted spouse cannot resume cohabitation with the felony-convicted spouse after knowledge of incarceration.

Work with an Experienced Divorce Lawyer

Most couples who are seeking a divorce in Virginia choose to pursue the divorce on no-fault grounds, although there are times where a divorce may be necessary, such as if cruelty is occurring, and the one-year or six-month separation period has not been satisfied. At the law offices of Olmstead & Olmstead, P.C., our experienced Virginia divorce attorneys can help you to determine what grounds make sense for your divorce, and assist you in putting the process in motion. For a consultation with our legal team, please call us at 703-361-1555, visit our office in person, or contact us online using the intake form on our website.

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