What Are the Grounds for an At-Fault Divorce in Virginia?

at-fault divorce in VirginiaLike other states, Virginia has its own laws regarding the grounds for obtaining a divorce and many other aspects of divorce actions. There are two types of divorce in Virginia: divorce from bed and board and a divorce from the bond of matrimony. A bed and board divorce is a partial divorce where the parties are legally separated but cannot remarry. A divorce from the bond of matrimony is a complete divorce. Unlike some states, Virginia allows for at-fault divorces from the bond of matrimony.

Grounds for an At-Fault Divorce from the Bond of Matrimony

There are five grounds for an at-fault divorce from the bond of matrimony. The two that do not require a waiting period are:

  1. Adultery. Adultery is hard to prove in Virginia because the proof must be strict and conclusive. Often it needs to be corroborated. In addition, it cannot be used as a grounds of divorce if the person continued to live with her spouse after the act was committed.
  2. Felony conviction. A felony conviction may be grounds for divorce if the prison sentence is for more than a year and the spouses do not live together after the person is released from prison.

There are three other grounds for an at-fault divorce that require a one-year waiting period where the parties are separated before a divorce can be finalized. These grounds are:    

  1. Physical cruelty. This involves violence or the fear of violence, and the spouse alleging this must prove a reasonable apprehension of bodily harm. It usually requires a number of incidents to prove. However, a single act can be sufficient if serious enough.
  2. Desertion. A spouse must prove the deserting spouse left with the intent of ending the marriage and that the deserted spouse did nothing wrong and did not want the desertion. The parties cannot have voluntarily separated for one of them to raise desertion as a grounds for a divorce.
  3. Constructive desertion. A spouse may have grounds for divorce based on constructive desertion if the other spouse has not physically left the marital home but has in essence left or deserted the marriage. It can be justification for the deserted spouse leaving the marital home, for example, if she is the victim of physical cruelty.

If you are considering filing for divorce, you need the help of an experienced family law attorney who can guide you through the process and fight for your rights. Call Tavss Fletcher today to schedule your consultation to confer with a member of our family law team.