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What are the grounds for divorce in Virginia?

By July 11, 2022January 15th, 2024Divorce

Unless you and your spouse are pursuing a no-fault divorce in Virginia, there are only certain grounds on which the state of Virginia will grant you a divorce: adultery, cruelty, desertion, and felonies. 

Believe it or not, even though these grounds look fairly straightforward, navigating an at-fault divorce is not as easy as it may seem. 

At Slovensky Law, we have been guiding the people of Roanoke and throughout Virginia through divorce for years, and we’re here to help.

Grounds for Divorce in Virginia

Whether you live in Roanoke or elsewhere in Virginia, the grounds for divorce are the same statewide. 

Here are the different bases for at-fault divorce in Virginia, as well as some information about each:

  • Adultery

Adultery refers to voluntary sexual acts outside of the married partnership. To claim adultery as grounds for divorce, conclusive evidence must be provided. Sodomy (includes some sexual acts other than intercourse) and buggery (sexual acts that are considered “against nature”) are also defined as sexual acts outside of the marriage partnership and qualify as grounds for divorce as well. Like with adultery, conclusive evidence is required. And without experienced Virginia divorce attorneys like our team at Slovensky Law, these claims can be unfortunately difficult to prove.

  • Cruelty

Cruelty means that there are acts, or the fear or an act, that would undoubtedly cause reasonable harm, making living together unsafe. Virginia requires the actions to be intolerable, repeated, and unrelenting. If they are not, the state of Virginia will not consider them to be grounds for divorce. Again, this requirement can make this reason for divorce difficult to present, which is why hiring an attorney with experience proving cruelty as grounds for divorce is key. 

  • Desertion

Desertion is when a spouse abandons their partner unjustifiably (and against the spouse’s wishes). Note that this does not apply if the couple is separated, but only if they are in a marriage partnership and living together. Slovensky Law can help you determine what qualifies for desertion, and what doesn’t.

  • Felonies

If a spouse is convicted of a felony and sentenced to one year or more in prison, their partner has grounds for divorce. However, it’s important to note that this is only the case if the spouse does not decide to continue to cohabitate with their partner after learning about the confinement.

If I do not qualify for an at-fault divorce in Virginia, is it possible to qualify for an annulment?

In some cases, an annulment may be granted by the state of Virginia – such as a marriage in which the spouse finds out that their partner was actually married to someone else. 

It may be in your best interest to consult with Virginia attorneys with experience in divorce cases, such as our team at Slovensky Law, as the legal requirements for an annulment are specific, and the process for an annulment is complex.

Is there an option for a no-fault divorce in Virginia?

Couples in Virginia can move forward and obtain a no-fault divorce if they live apart and separate for six months and have an agreement. 

However, if they have minor children living at home, the total number of months a couple will need to separate for is twelve months. 

Though the state of Virginia itself does not grant couples a legal separation, the act of separating is required in order for a couple to qualify for a divorce. 

Many couples who separate ask our team at Slovenky Law to draft a separation agreement to protect their interests, as well.

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