Does Virginia have no fault divorce?

A no fault divorce means that the spouse who initiates the divorce and files the paperwork is not required to show that the other party did anything improper. In many states, you can get a no fault divorce simply by saying that the marriage has broken down or that there are irreconcilable differences. The state of Virginia offers parties the chance to end their marriage, even if one party has not committed a "wrong" or if there is no fault. However, Virginia is one of the states that requires a separation period prior to a no fault divorce.

Grounds for a Virginia No Fault Divorce

There are two possible ways to become eligible for a no fault divorce in Virginia: 

  • A no fault divorce can be granted if the two parties have been living separately for one year.
  • A no fault divorce can also be granted if the two parties have been living separately for six months, if there are no minor children involved, and if the two parties have a separation agreement.

Obtaining a No Fault Divorce

To obtain a no fault divorce, the spouses must resolve all property, custody, visitation, and support issues. This is done with a Property Settlement Agreement. The next step is to file a complaint that contains pertinent information, such as your ages, when and where you were married, the date of separation, the existence of children, and a statement that you separated with the intent to divorce.

When the case is filed, a Summons and the Complaint will be sent to your spouse. After that, your spouse has 21 days to respond to the action. Your spouse can also waive the 21 day wait time and the service of the summons if he or she chooses. Since the divorce is uncontested, you may be able to give a deposition at your lawyer’s office instead of in court to take care of this step. The next step is the final decree, signed by a judge, that grants the divorce. The official date of your divorce is the day the judge signs the final decree.      

Getting Help

If you are getting a no fault divorce, you should strongly consider speaking with an attorney. Your lawyer can help you make sure you understand the grounds for a no fault divorce and can also help protect your rights during the distribution of property and the drafting of the settlement agreement.