Divorce Law in the Commonwealth of VA

by Elizabeth Stock
Divorce can be stressful for the entire family.

Divorce can be stressful for the entire family.

Goodshoot/Goodshoot/Getty Images

Filing for divorce can be confusing and stressful, and you may have many questions about Virginia's divorce laws. However, with a basic understanding of the divorce process and issues that may arise in Virginia, you may feel more comfortable filing for divorce. In addition, keep in mind that you must satisfy Virginia's residency requirement by living in the state for at least six months before filing for divorce.

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Grounds for Divorce

When you file the paperwork for your divorce in Virginia, referred to as the divorce complaint, you must state a reason, or ground, for the divorce. Virginia recognizes both no-fault and fault grounds for a divorce. A no-fault ground for divorce in Virginia is separation for one year prior to filing for divorce. If you choose a fault reason for the divorce, like adultery or physical abuse, you must provide evidence showing your spouse is at fault. If you file for fault-based divorce, you do need to wait one year after the incident that gave rise to the ground to file for divorce.

Equitable Distribution

Virginia is an equitable distribution state, which means when dividing the marital property during a divorce the court will do so in a way that the court feels is fair to both parties. This does not always result in an even distribution between the two spouses, but the court will consider several factors when determining what is fair. For example, the court will consider the duration of the marriage and the age and physical condition of you and your spouse. In addition, each spouse's monetary and non-monetary contributions to the well-being of the family is also relevant to determining the division of marital assets. If you file for divorce based upon a fault ground, like adultery, your spouse at fault may get less marital property than you receive if the harm caused economic consequences.

Child Custody

If you and your spouse have children together, the court will also need to decide child custody issues. When making a child custody decision in Virginia, the court considers what is in the best interest of the child. For example, the court will take into account the child's age and physical and mental condition. Each spouse's relationship with the child will also be considered including the role that you or your spouse has played in rearing the child thus far.

Spousal Support

You or your spouse may be entitled to spousal support. Spousal support is financial support paid by one spouse to another following a divorce. The court will consider several things when deciding whether spousal support is appropriate. For example, the court will consider the length of the marriage and each spouse's financial resources. The court will also examine the earning ability of both you and your spouse and the division of marital property.