Virginia residents are oftentimes surprised to learn what does and does not constitute grounds for divorce in Virginia. Most assume that divorce is a painless process whereby a marriage is dissolved when one party indicates their desire to get a divorce. In some sense, that may be correct. While it may be true that some of the grounds for divorce may be simple, it is entirely untrue to believe that the divorce process itself is simple and straightforward.
This truth is perhaps most evident when discussing no-fault divorce in Virginia. To obtain a no-fault divorce in Virginia, the parties must first have a separation period of one year if they have minor children, or six months if they do not have minor children and have executed a written separation agreement. The statutory divorce law is very specific that the separation period must be uninterrupted for the requisite period, and the married couple may not cohabit with each other during that time period. As the name suggests, a no-fault divorce is not concerned with the reasons the divorce occurred.
Virginia law also recognizes at-fault grounds for divorce. Unlike no-fault divorce, an at-fault divorce focuses on the reasons the marital union was terminated. At-fault divorce grounds include:
– Adultery, sodomy, or buggery committed outside the marriage;
– Where either party to the marriage has subsequently been convicted of a felony, sentenced to confinement for more than one year, and confined for the felony subsequent to the conviction, and cohabitation has not resumed after knowledge of such confinement; or
– where either party has been guilty of cruelty, caused reasonable apprehension of bodily hurt, or willfully deserted or abandoned the other, a divorce may be granted after the passage of one year.
The type of divorce ground one pursues may depend on a number of issues, not just on the evidence available. For example, it is possible that a wife may have grounds for seeking a divorce against her husband on a fault-based ground but, for a variety of reasons, including the increased expense and difficulty of proving the existence of fault, she may elect to proceed on a no-fault basis. Depending on the circumstances, the decision regarding how to proceed can be a difficult and delicate one, and it is a decision that requires the informed input of an experienced attorney following a detailed consultation.
For more information about the divorce process in Virginia and to learn your rights, please contact Robert E. Byrne, Jr. of MartinWren, P.C. for a consultation. Bob is a Charlottesville Divorce Attorney who has been recognized by Super Lawyers magazine, he has been given an AV-Preeminent rating by Martindale Hubbell, the oldest and most distinguished lawyer rating service, and he has been named by the National Trial Lawyers as one of the “Top 40 Under 40” Trial Lawyers in Virginia. To contact Bob, please call (434) 817-3100 or, if you prefer, please send him an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.