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Virginia Divorce FAQ

  • If I file on grounds, can I change my mind and request a no-fault separation divorce?

Yes.  Either party who asks the court for a fault-based divorce can later request by motion, a no-fault separation divorce after the requisite waiting period, without amending his or her bill of complaint.

  • Is it one year or 6 months of living separate and apart?

It is one year of living separate and apart without cohabitation and without interruption, UNLESS there is a separation agreement and no minor children, in which case the period of time is six months.

  • What is buggery?

It is a ground for divorce, along with Adultery and Sodomy, and is close in meaning to sodomy. Although not specifically defined by courts, it can include intercourse with another person or animal.

  • What if my spouse has been convicted of a felony during our marriage?

Virginia recognizes conviction of a felony as a ground for divorce.  When a spouse has been convicted of a felony, sentenced to confinement for more than one year, and is confined without the resumption of cohabitation, an absolute divorce may be granted with no waiting period.

  • My wife is a Foreign Service Officer for the U.S. Department of State and is currently serving overseas.  We last lived together in Virginia for approximately one year before she went overseas.   Can I file for divorce in Virginia now, or do I have to wait for her to return from her overseas post?

You may initiate the divorce proceedings now because she lived in Virginia for at least six months prior to the time that she was stationed overseas.

  • My spouse left me (moved out) and has taken all the money from our joint account without telling me, is that a ground for divorce?

Most likely. Willful desertion or abandonment is a ground for divorce.

  • What if my spouse and I still live under the same roof?

You can still file for a divorce and the court may grant you a divorce based on having lived separate and apart for one year, so long as there is evidence that you are not engaging in activities that a husband and wife would engage (e.g. sexual relations, preparing and eating meals together, etc.).

  • If my spouse is living in the basement, and I occupy the rest of the house, is that living separate and apart?

Separate bedrooms alone may not be enough to convince a court that you are living separate and apart.  Other evidence would have to be presented to the court that you are living separate and apart, such as not eating meals together or going to social engagements together or doing the other spouse’s laundry.

  • Is mental cruelty a ground for divorce?

No. Mental cruelty alone is not a sufficient ground for divorce.