The Cooling-Off Period Before a Divorce in Virginia

By Wayne Thomas

Virginia recognizes both fault and no-fault grounds for divorce. If the fault ground of adultery is proven, the court may dissolve your marriage immediately. However, the law requires parties to be separated for a length of time before a no-fault divorce will be granted. This "cooling off" period generally requires parties to stop living together; the length of the required separation will vary based on whether the couple has entered into a separation agreement and has any minor children.

Virginia recognizes both fault and no-fault grounds for divorce. If the fault ground of adultery is proven, the court may dissolve your marriage immediately. However, the law requires parties to be separated for a length of time before a no-fault divorce will be granted. This "cooling off" period generally requires parties to stop living together; the length of the required separation will vary based on whether the couple has entered into a separation agreement and has any minor children.

Voluntary Separation

A divorce may be granted in Virginia after a period of voluntary separation. This is a no-fault action that will completely dissolve the marriage relationship, and is not to be confused with a "divorce from bed and board." A divorce from bed and board is essentially a legal separation and does not terminate the marriage.

Divorce is never easy, but we can help. Learn More

Duration

Virginia law specifies two different time frames for separation as part of a no-fault divorce. If the parties have no children and have entered into a separation agreement, the period is six months. A separation agreement is a contract regarding how matters related to property and spousal support will be dealt with during the separation period and eventual divorce, and is in lieu of the court making this determination. If the parties have children or do not reach a separation agreement, the separation period is one year.

Maintaining Separation

During the separation period, it is important that you not resume cohabitation as a married couple. This includes isolated incidents of sexual relations, which may cause the period to reset. If you and your spouse continue to live in the same residence during the separation period, a judge will look to the specific facts and circumstances of the living arrangement to determine whether you and your spouse intended to separate. For practical reasons, proving intent can be tricky if you live under the same roof as your spouse. However, separation might be established if you take deliberate actions, such as moving into the garage and not attending social events as husband and wife.

Fault-Based Options

As an alternative, Virginia offers traditional fault grounds for divorce. By proving certain grounds, including adultery, you can obtain a divorce without a waiting period of separation. Other fault grounds, such as abandonment, do not require a separation period, but a spouse is required to show that the desertion lasted for at least a year. If proven, the existence of marital misconduct can also affect other areas of a divorce. Specifically, fault is taken into account in both property division and spousal support determinations. For example, a judge may be convinced that the fault of one spouse justifies a higher award of property to the victim spouse or a complete denial of support to the guilty spouse.

Divorce is never easy, but we can help. Learn More
90 Day Cooling Off Period for a Divorce in Pennsylvania

References

Related articles

Desertion Penalty in a Maryland Divorce

When a relationship goes through a difficult time or reaches an end, a husband or wife may decide to leave the marital home. If one spouse leaves or abandons the other, desertion may become a legal issue if the couple divorces in Maryland. In some cases, spousal desertion can penalize a spouse in alimony, property and other divorce-related legal issues.

The Code of West Virginia Regarding the Grounds for Divorce

West Virginia offers both fault and no-fault grounds for divorce. If the parties agree on the divorce, or one spouse can prove abuse or adultery, the marriage can usually be dissolved without delay. Other grounds, such as separation and desertion, require the parties to complete a waiting period defined by law. Regardless of the grounds for divorce, the existence of marital misconduct may be considered by the court as part of spousal support and custody proceedings in West Virginia.

Abandonment Laws in a Florida Divorce

Florida law provides that a court may grant a divorce request if the marriage is “irretrievably broken.” Whether the circumstances of a particular case rise to the level of an irretrievably broken marriage depends on the facts of the case. One circumstance under which a Florida court may make such a finding is when one spouse abandons the other. Abandonment, sometimes referred to as “desertion,” may be actual or implied under the circumstances.

Get Divorced Online

Related articles

Grounds for Divorce in Fayetteville, North Carolina

Divorce in North Carolina is governed by state law. Whether you are in Fayetteville, Durham or Ashville, the grounds ...

Divorce Law on Infidelity in Pennsylvania

Spousal infidelity, referred to as adultery, continues to be recognized as a basis for divorce in Pennsylvania. If your ...

What Is the Least Time You Have to Be Separated for You to Get a Divorce in New Jersey?

When a couple wishes to get divorced, having to wait to file the paperwork can be frustrating. In New Jersey, how long ...

Separation & Divorce in Virginia State

Living separate and apart for a period is a prerequisite for most grounds for divorce in Virginia. The state broadly ...

Browse by category
Ready to Begin? GET STARTED