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Virginia Divorce Laws

Virginia's divorce laws govern how, and under which circumstances, a married couple may get divorced in the state. Most states require some amount of residency prior to a divorce, and all states allow some form of "no fault" grounds for divorce. Virginia's legal requirements for divorce include the requirement that at least one party is a resident for six months prior to the dissolution. Additionally, Virginia requires a one-year separation period before "no fault" grounds may be claimed for divorce.

Virginia Divorce Laws at a Glance

The basic provisions of Virginia's divorce laws are highlighted in following chart.

Code Section


Residency Requirements

One party resident and domiciled 6 months before suit. 20-97

Waiting Period

Decree immediate on determination of issues. Remarriage prohibited during appeal.

'No Fault' Grounds for Divorce

Separation (1 yr.).

Defenses to a Divorce Filing

Adultery, buggery, or sodomy: cohabitation after knowledge, act occurred more than 5 yrs. before suit for divorce, or party procured or connived act

Other Grounds for Divorce

Adultery or sodomy or buggery committed outside the marriage; subsequent conviction of felony and confined for more than one year without cohabitation following confinement; cruelty, caused fear of bodily hurt or willfully deserted 1 yr. from the date of such act; lived separate lives without cohabitation and without interruption for one year.

No Fault Divorce Laws

Virginia, like many other states, has amended its divorce law to include what is known as a “no fault” divorce. Filing for a no fault divorce means that you don’t have to prove that your spouse did anything wrong in your marriage.

In Virginia, you and your spouse must live separated and apart for one year without any cohabitation. This period can be reduced to six months if you and your spouse enter into a settlement agreement regarding the particulars of the divorce and you don’t share any minor children. Although you are not required to allege fault under this type of divorce, fault could still be an issue regarding “spousal support” (alimony) or the separation of your shared property.  

If you and your spouse have shared minor children, you should be aware of child custody laws in Virginia, as well as state laws pertaining to child support guidelines and child support enforcement.

Get Legal Help with Your Divorce in Virginia

The divorce process can be difficult both legally and emotionally, and you may find meeting with an attorney can help -- especially if your spouse has legal representation. If you're thinking about getting divorced, or in the middle of your divorce, it's a good idea to get in touch with a skilled divorce attorney in Virginia who can guide you through the process and help protect your interests.

You Don’t Have To Solve This on Your Own – Get a Lawyer’s Help

Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.

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