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GROUNDS FOR DIVORCE IN VIRGINIA

By: Matthew Snow

When filing for divorce, one of the parties must give the court a reason or grounds for filing the divorce. In Loudoun and all counties in Virginia, there are four main grounds for divorce:

ADULTERY
This is a pretty straight forward cause of action; however there are numerous defenses to this claim:
If both spouses commit post-separation adultery this will not be a valid ground for divorce;
If there is any sort of conditional forgiveness of the adulterer;
If the adultery occurred more than five years before the filing of the divorce suit;
If there was consent given by the non-offending party, either expressed or implied, to commit the adultery;
If there is some sort of “recrimination,” meaning that both parties are guilty of conduct amounting to a marital fault ground for divorce;
If there was some sort of collusion by both parties to agree that one party committed adultery so that the other party could bring a divorce action against them.

FELONY CONVICTION
If either spouse has been convicted of a felony after the marriage, sentenced to confinement for more than a year and then actually confined, and cohabitation has not been resumed after knowledge of confinement.

CRUELTY AND DESERTION
This occurs when either party has been guilty of causing reasonable apprehension of bodily harm, or willfully deserted or abandoned the other. A divorce may be decreed to the innocent party after one year from the date of the act. The definition for desertion requires two elements: First the breaking off of matrimonial cohabitation; and Second, an intent to desert in the mind of the offender. Desertion can be constructive if the spouse’s conduct caused the conditions in the martial home to become so intolerable, forcing the innocent spouse to leave.

NO FAULT/ TWELVE MONTH SEPARATION
The most common ground for divorce in Virginia is “no-fault.” A no-fault divorce may be decreed if the husband and wife have lived separate and apart without any cohabitation and without interruption for one year. You may live separate and apart under the same roof, however, there are more subjective requirements to determine whether or not the separate and apart requirement is being adhered to. If you elect to live under the same roof, please consult an attorney right away to determine your rights. However, there is one exception to the twelve months requirement; if you have a separation agreement and have no minor children, you only need to live separate and apart for six months.

These are the four primary grounds for divorce in Virginia. If you are currently contemplating filing for divorce in Leesburg or Loudoun County, please contact Biberaj & Snow P.C. and set-up a free consultation with Matthew Snow to discuss all of your options.

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Disclaimer: This information is intended for general interest only. It is not intended to be nor should it be deemed as legal advice. Please consult with one of our experienced attorneys at Biberaj & Snow for the best advice specific to your needs.