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Is a legal separation required before divorce in Virginia?

By May 16, 2022September 14th, 2022Divorce

If you live in Roanoke, Virginia, you may be wondering if a formal, legal separation document is required before you get your divorce. 

Simply put, the answer is no; you do not need a so-called legal separation in Virginia to qualify to get a divorce. In fact, Virginia doesn’t even have a legal separation. 

But not surprisingly, it’s a bit more complicated than that. That’s why our experienced divorce attorneys here at Slovensky Law are here to help.

Do I need to be separated at all before I file for divorce?

In most cases, yes. But separation may not mean what you think.

Being separated means you and your spouse are not cohabiting with one another, and that at least one of you has formed the intent to remain separate and not get back together.

Does this mean you have to live in two separate houses? No, technically it doesn’t. However, the easiest way for the Court to determine if and when you and your spouse have separated is for each of you to be living in different households. If you’re still living under the same roof, the Court may decide that you are not separated and cannot get divorced yet.

What period of separation is required to get a divorce in Virginia?

While a formal, legal separation is not required in Roanoke or the state of Virginia to get a divorce, in almost every case Virginia does need you and your spouse to be separated for some time before the Court will grant the divorce. In most cases, that period of separation is one year.

However, if you do not have children, and you and your spouse have signed a separation agreement resolving all of your divorce-related issues, then that separation period may be shortened to six months.

Does it matter where I live?

The only requirement relating to where you live is that you must be a resident of Virginia for at least six (6) months before filing for divorce. 

Slovensky Law understands the requirements and is here to walk you through the process so that you can begin your divorce process with ease.

Two types of divorces in Virginia

In the state of Virginia, there are two different types of divorces. One of these divorces is partial, and the other one is permanent.

1.) Divorce from bed and board.

Divorce from bed and board is a “partial divorce.”

This means that the bond of matrimony is still intact, though separate – so neither spouse is permitted to remarry. A judge will decide maintenance, property distribution, and custody. Once established, the only way to get wholly divorced from a bed and board divorce is to prove that your spouse has been cruel, caused you to fear harm, deserted you, or abandoned you.

2.) Divorce from the bonds of matrimony.

A divorce from the bonds of matrimony is a complete divorce.

This type of divorce ultimately ends the marriage, allowing you and your spouse to remarry other people.

Historically speaking, divorce from the bonds of matrimony in Virginia typically required proof of fault (meaning that adultery, a felony, willful desertion or abandonment, or reasonable fear of harm took place).

However, the law now recognizes divorce based on a period of voluntary separation.

Whether your divorce is at fault or no fault, from bed and board or the bonds of matrimony, you will need an experienced attorney, such as our team at Slovensky Law Firm, to ensure you receive everything you are entitled to. Remember: assets will need to be split, spousal support provided, and child custody and visitation established. It’s best to have someone on your side from the get-go to help you through this process every step of the way.

If you live in Virginia and are considering divorce, contact Slovensky Law today

At Slovensky Law, we understand all aspects of divorce in Virginia, and will help you navigate all of the highs and lows that come with this process. We are dedicated to protecting your rights and helping you get your life back on track. To schedule a confidential consultation, contact us at our Roanoke, Virginia office today.

We look forward to hearing from you.

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