Virginia Divorce & Separation
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Divorce and legal separations are of course common across the country, but each state has its own unique laws governing the procedures, and Virginia is no exception. What are the legal requirements for getting a separation or divorce in Virginia? Are there simplified procedures available? Is mediation a requirement before you can get divorced in Virginia? What about annulments in Virginia? Find the answers to your Virginia divorce and Virginia separation questions here.
Virginia Legal Separation:
Virginia courts will recognize and consider separation agreements in adjudicating divorce suits, but there is no legal separation per se, whether as a precursor to divorce or a separate entity. For more information about the differences between divorce, separation and annulment, see Ending a Marriage or Taking a Break.
Grounds for Divorce/Fault – No Fault:
Virginia has both fault and no-fault grounds for divorce. The sphere of fault-based reasons includes: adultery, sodomy committed outside the marriage, a felony conviction, sentencing to confinement for more than one year and failure of a return to cohabitation after that year. Cruelty, reasonable apprehension of bodily hurt, willful desertion or abandonment are also grounds for fault-based divorce, but only when at least one year has passed from the date of the act itself.
Divorce will also be granted when the parties have lived separately and apart for one year. Where separation agreements exist and no minor children are party to the divorce, a divorce may be granted upon only six months of living separately and apart.
Residency/Where to File for Divorce:
Suits for divorce or annulment are not valid unless one of the parties has been a resident for at least six months before the suit is filed. The Circuit Courts have jurisdiction over all annulment and divorce lawsuits, along with claims for separate maintenance. Judges automatically hear the suits as “equitable claims.”
Availability of Simplified or Special Divorce Procedures:
When the grounds for divorce are willful desertion or abandonment, there is no requirement to allege or prove an offer of reconciliation. When there are no specific alleged grounds (in other words, an uncontested, “no-fault” divorce), then the divorce is much more likely to proceed through the system quickly and smoothly. If both parties can work together on most of their issues, especially those concerning property and children, they will save themselves frustration as well as excess legal fees. However, these agreements are not necessarily binding on the court.
Virginia Divorce/Child Support/Child Custody Lawyers:
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Divorce Mediation in Virginia:
The court may refer the parties to a dispute resolution session at no extra cost, but only as circumstances allow. Any unresolved issues between the parties after the mediation session (or after several mediation sessions, if the parties agree to it) will be resolved by the court. As an incentive for the parties to mediate, the fee for the mediator is paid by the state of Virginia.
An annulment is a court declaration that the marriage is legally invalid. In other words, rather than ending a marriage via divorce, an annulment decrees the marriage was never valid to begin with, for reasons including: fraud, duress, incurable impotency at the time of the marriage, undisclosed prior felony conviction, undisclosed extramarital pregnancy or undisclosed extramarital child born within 10 months of the marriage, and either party’s having been a prostitute before marriage (also undisclosed at the time of the marriage contract).
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