Traditionally, legal separation is considered as a midway solution between marriage and divorce; it is an arrangement where couples may stay apart legally. However, as per Virginia’s state laws, this ‘middle ground’ doesn’t exist in the state of Virginia. Unlike other states, couples seeking legal separation aren’t allowed to do so as per Virginia’s Laws. The domestic relations laws in Virginia lack this provision, especially when none of the party is at fault for disposing of the marriage.
However, a legal provision permits you to take steps to protect yourself, your children, and your assets, while separating from your spouse and file a suit for divorce.
Since domestic relations laws are state-controlled, you must determine the status of legal separation (a court-permitted agreement between husband and wife that details the obligations and the rights of each party) in your state.
Some states allow legal separation while the court issues temporary orders for visitation, custody, support and even property division. The state of Virginia is different from the usual and do not permit separation. Therefore, before making any such decision, talk to your attorney to know the legal solutions you can avail.
Couples who wish to separate, before getting into their divorce process can also negotiate for the Virginia Marital Separation Agreement or Separation Agreement Virginia. By agreeing to surrender to this document, both parties agree to live apart and lead separate lives. The agreement further resolves all child support issues, property distribution, debt division, custody, and visitation. In the state of Virginia, this is the closest legal separation arrangement as per law. This process also saves time and money.
Separation and divorce
No-Fault Divorce cases
In the state of Virginia, the family laws permit for no-fault divorces, which is only useful in two cases:
- Separation for one year
- Separation for six months (temporary separation); without minor kids.
Since the Virginia law doesn’t provide any legal status over separation, the court determines the duration of the ‘no-fault divorce’ and look for the date on which one of the parties decided the end of the marriage and the same was communicated to their spouse. The court needs an email or text as proof of communication.
Separation in case of fault-based divorce
The state of Virginia law considers several at-fault grounds for separation. The most common at-fault grounds are desertion, adultery, and cruelty. If your case is a fault-based petition for divorce, the court will allow the aggrieved party to file a “Divorce from bed & board” or a “divorce from the bond of marriage.”
If the court agrees and decides in favour of the application for “divorce from bed and board,” then neither party can re-marry or engage in sexual relationships with any other person ever.
If there are grounds that can lead to fault-divorce, but both the parties do not agree to a divorce, the state of Virginia helps resolve the issue. There is a provision that enables the court to order support and rule on the custody and visitation issues. This statute is commonly known as separation maintenance. The court has similar authority in divorce matters when deciding all issues around the spousal and child support.
For couples who aren’t in happy marriages are only left with the provision of a separation agreement. You must note that the divorce process is lengthy, messy, and can be emotionally draining. You can keep yourself at ease by opting for separation rather than going for a divorce, find Virginia separation agreement form copy here!