Virginia Divorce Law Explained
Virginia law requires that either you or your spouse be a resident of Virginia for at least six months prior to filing for divorce. In Virginia, there is both “fault” based divorce, and “no-fault” divorce. In the event a couple does not have children, and the spouses are able to enter into a property settlement agreement, they can file for divorce after being separated for only six months. This is a “no-fault” divorce.
However, if a couple has minor children, they must be separated for a minimum of one year prior to filing for a no-fault divorce, regardless of whether they have entered into a property settlement agreement. In contrast, there is no waiting period that must elapse prior to the filing of a fault based divorce in Virginia.
If certain specific fault grounds for divorce exist, an individual can file for divorce immediately, since there is no requisite waiting period that must elapse before the filing of a fault based divorce. If a couple has been separated for less than one year, the spouse seeking a fault based divorce must allege specific fault based grounds for divorce in order to bypass the one year waiting period applicable to a no-fault divorce. The grounds for filing a fault based divorce must exist before you file.
“No-Fault” Grounds for Divorce in Virginia
The legal ground for a “no-fault” divorce in Virginia is simply the passage of time. So long as an individual has lived separate and apart from their spouse, for at least one year, they can file for divorce. The time begins to run from the date of the parties’ separation, so long as on the date of separation at least one of the parties had the intention to remain permanently separated. If the parties have no children, and have entered into a written property settlement agreement, the period of separation is reduced to six months. However, if a couple has minor children, they must be separated for a minimum of one year prior to filing for divorce, regardless of whether they have entered into a property settlement agreement.