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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.

This article provides a brief overview of divorce laws in the state of Virginia.

Virginia Divorce Laws at a Glance

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

Code Section

§ 20-91 et seq. of the Virginia Code

Residency Requirements

One party resident and domiciled six months before the suit

Waiting Period

Decree final immediately on the determination of issues. Remarriage is prohibited during the appeal

'No-Fault' Grounds for Divorce

Separation (one year or six months if no children)

Defenses to a Divorce Filing

When grounds are adultery/buggery/sodomy, the defense is it happened more than five years ago or they cohabitated after the act (voluntarily) or connivance

Other Grounds for Divorce

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

Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

No-Fault Divorce Laws

Virginia, like all 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 don't share any minor children. Although you are not required to allege fault under this type of divorce, the 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.

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  • Divorces are tough and a lawyer can seek the best outcome
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