In Virginia, a couple may only divorce if a ground for divorce exists. Virginia has fault grounds and no-fault grounds for divorce. The most common fault grounds are cruelty, desertion, and adultery. If a couple has lived separately and apart from each other without cohabitation without interruption for one year, then they have a ground for divorce that would be considered a no-fault ground for divorce. If the couple does not have any minor children and has entered into a written and signed separation agreement, then the no-fault ground for divorce exists when the couple has lived separate and apart without cohabitation and without interruption for six months.
When someone has a ground for divorce existing in his or her favor, that person may ask the Court for a divorce by filing a Complaint for divorce. The filing of a Complaint begins the process of divorce, but, except in limited circumstances, a couple must be separated for a period of one year before they can be legally divorced by a Court.
If someone files a Complaint with the Court asking for a divorce without a written and signed separation agreement, then that divorce is considered contested. If a couple has a written and signed separation agreement, and there is nothing remaining in dispute to be decided by the Court, then that divorce is considered uncontested.
The issues to be addressed within a divorce case are as follows:
- Distribution of the marital property and debt
- Spousal support
- Child custody
- Visitation (parenting arrangements)
- Child support
- Attorney’s fees
When someone files a Complaint for divorce, the Court can address certain things between the parties of the marriage such as who has the right to continue to live in the marital home, who pays for the mortgage, who pays spousal support, who pays child support, what custody arrangement should be in place for your children and a few other things. The Court does this by entering a temporary order which governs the parties until such time as the parties can either reach a separation agreement or until the Court makes a different ruling at a final trial.
While a divorce involving active duty military personnel is not distinguished from any other divorce by Virginia law, issues unique to the military component of the marriage must be addressed.
The team of Phillips & Peters has successfully represented hundreds of clients going through a divorce. Our family law attorneys will provide you with experienced strategic advice and skilled guidance to help you move forward.