1. What are the jurisdictional requirements?
- You or your spouse must be residents of Virginia for at least 6 months preceding the filing of your divorce papers with the court.
- With no children, you must have been living separate and apart, without cohabitation, for at least six months and have completed and signed a property settlement agreement
- With children, you must have been living separate and apart, without cohabitation, for at least one year and have no contested spousal or child support, child custody or division of property issues to litigate, or have resolved all such issues by a signed property settlement agreement. At that one year mark, however, you may file for divorce as a contested matter, thereby beginning the process, whether or not your disputes have been settled.
2. How long do I need to be separated before I can get a divorce?
With minor children, you must have been separated for one year. If you do not have minor children with your spouse, and you have both signed a property settlement agreement, you only need to be separated for six months to qualify for a Virginia divorce. Parties must not cohabit during their period of separation.
“Cohabitation” includes all manner of acts conducted by married people to manage their household, including such matters as grocery shopping, child rearing, home maintenance, laundry, paying bills, etc. Not cohabitating also assumes that the parties are not sharing a bedroom or having intimate relations.
3. What does Virginia consider “living separate and apart”, especially if my spouse and I are still living under the same roof?
This is a grey area of the law. Some attorneys will not even file a complaint for divorce when the parties are living under the same roof. Also, the individual judges and courthouse that handles your case will vary in their interpretation of “living separate and apart”. Parties get divorced everyday in Virginia while they are both living in the marital residence, but there are no guarantees this will satisfy the six month/ one year mandate. See my previous blog article Living Separate and Apart – What does that Mean? (November 14, 2011).
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