Legal Separation, Separation Agreement, and Divorce in The State of Virginia
In between marriage and divorce is legal separation, but, this ‘middle ground’ doesn’t exist in the state of Virginia. Unlike most states, persons seeking legal separation aren’t permitted by the Virginia Laws to get a legal separation. The domestic relations laws in the state of Virginia lack this status, especially when neither party is at fault for ending the marriage.
However, you can take steps to protect yourself and your children, as well as your assets, as you separate from your spouse and file for a divorce.
Since domestic relations laws are state-specific, you will find that legal separation (a court-sanctioned agreement between a husband and a wife that details the obligations and the rights of every party) some states allow legal separation with the court issues temporary orders for custody, visitation, support and even property division. Nothing like this happens in the state of Virginia. Therefore, before you jump into it, talk to an attorney to know your options.
Couples who wish to separate as they begin working on their divorce have an option to negotiate a Virginia Marital Separation Agreement. By agreeing to use this document, both parties agree to live apart and lead separate lives. The agreement resolves issues such as debt division, property distribution, child support, custody, and visitation.
In the state of Virginia, this is as close a legal separation as it gets.
This is always the go-to option if you wish to save time and money. It is also less involving emotionally, on the children and couples.
Separation and divorce
No-Fault Divorce cases
- In the state of Virginia, the family laws allow for no-fault divorces. The no-fault divorce us only effective in two cases:
- Separation for one year
- Separation for six months; but with temporary separation no minor kids present.
You should, however, note that Virginia doesn’t have procedures for legal separation in no-fault cases.
Determining if you have been separated for the duration allowed in no-fault divorce cases
Since the Virginia law doesn’t provide the legally separated status, the courts determine if the duration of the no-fault divorce has been met by looking at the date that one of the parties decided the marriage was over, and they communicated the fact to their spouse. Often, there is an email or a text. All the court needs is proof of communication.
But, if you feel that your partner will contest that communication later, you should have a written record that states your intention to end the marriage permanently. If you prove the date of the separation, then there is a factual determination, and the court will see that as evidence to corroborate the date of your separation.
Separation in case of a fault-based divorce
The Virginia law features several at fault grounds for separation. The most common faults are adultery, desertion, and cruelty. In case yours is a fault-based petition for divorce, the court allows the aggrieved party to file a “Divorce from bed and board” or a “divorce from the bond of matrimony.”
If the court assents the application for “divorce from bed and board,” then neither party can remarry or even engage in sexual relationships with other people. However, a “divorce from the bond of matrimony” is an absolute and a final divorce.
After the complainant files for either type of divorce, either party can file a motion for “pendent lite” relief. This means temporary relief pending the final resolution of the case. The forms of relief include child custody/ visitation/ support, spousal support, contributions to marital debts, exclusive use of the marital home, or injunctions to prevent dissipation of marital assets or harassment. The relief stays in place until a final trial is held.
If there exist fault-divorce grounds, but neither party wants a divorce, the Virginia laws help resolve the issue. There is a statute which enables the court to order support and to rule on the custody and visitation issues. The statute is the separation Maintenance. Here the court has the same authority as it does in divorce cases when deciding all matters around the child and spousal support. However, this statute doesn’t order separation of property.
The only in between for couples who aren’t in happy marriages is the separation agreement. Noting that the whole divorce process is lengthy and it may get messy, you can make it easier by getting the marital separation agreement copy here.
Whether you live in Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Chesapeake, Arlington, Richmond, Newport News, Alexandria, Hampton or any other city of Virginia, you can use our legal forms easily.