What does it mean to live separate and apart before filing for divorce in Virginia?

Woman Packing a Moving BoxIf you want to divorce your spouse in Virginia, you must establish specific grounds for an at-fault or uncontested divorce. In an uncontested divorce, you would need to live separately and apart for a certain period of time. This time period is:

  • Six months if there are no minor children of the marriage
  • One year if you and your spouse have minor children together

What Does it Mean to Live Separate and Apart?

If you are filing a no-fault divorce, you will need to prove the date you separated from your spouse and that you lived separate and apart for the required time period. You must establish two things:

  • Physical separation. In many divorces, partners become physically separated when one spouse moves out of the marital residence. However, it is possible to prove that you are physically separated from your partner even if you continue to live together if you meet certain requirements that show you are really living apart.
  • Intent. You must also show that at least one of you decided that your marriage was over and that you wanted a divorce. While this is often communicated through a conversation, it is best to follow up with an email, text, or letter that confirms your decision.

Factors the Court Considers in Deciding the Date of Living Separate and Apart

You will need to present facts to the court that shows the date you and your partner began living separate and apart. If there is a dispute about when this began, or the judge has questions about it, they would consider the following:

  • Whether there is a signed and dated separation agreement
  • The date you and your spouse started identifying as being separated to friends and family members
  • Whether you continue to go out or attend events together
  • Whether you live in the same home and how you live apart if you do, such as having separate bedrooms

Do you have questions about how to prove you are living separate and apart from your spouse? Are you planning to file a divorce in the Virginia Beach or Norfolk area? Contact our office to schedule a free initial consultation to get your questions answered and learn how our experienced family law attorneys can help you every step of the way through your divorce.