Virginia Divorce: Fault or No Fault Grounds

Virginia law requires you to satisfy one of several different grounds for divorce before you can file. These grounds can be split into two separate categories; fault based grounds of divorce and non-fault based grounds of divorce. Each grounds for divorce carries with it a separate waiting requirement and requires you to prove different things. What do you need to do in order to qualify for divorce in Virginia, and what do you need to know about these grounds of divorce?

Fault Based Grounds of Divorce

The first, and largest, category of divorce grounds is fault based grounds of divorce. Virginia law allows you to file for a divorce if one of the following issues are present; adultery, physical abuse, mental abuse, and desertion. Virginia law also requires that you provide clear proof that one of these grounds have occurred.

For example, with adultery, you must not only prove the identity of the other party, but you must also prove the date and location that the alleged adultery occurred. These burdens of proof make it difficult to pursue a fault based grounds of divorce in Virginia.

However, successfully pursuing a fault based grounds of divorce can impact how the court will handle property distribution and alimony. The more “at fault” the court views one of the parties, the more harshly they will be treated by the court. For example, committing adultery is generally a bar to alimony in Virginia.

No Fault Grounds of Divorce

This is a much smaller category of grounds for divorce. This category applies if you have been living separate and apart from your spouse for a period of time; either six (6) months or one (1) year depending on the facts of your case.

The benefit of a no fault based grounds of divorce is that you only required to establish the date of separation and that the parties have lived separate and apart for the required period of time. You must also show that the you and your spouse have divided all the debt and assets, and that the court is only required to finalize the divorce.

Why You Need a Lawyer for Divorce

A lawyer is essential in understanding the various things you have to prove in order to establish any given grounds of divorce. Furthermore, a lawyer can help you prepare your case to maximize your chances of success and reduce the delay of filing for divorce. Seek out a lawyer if you intend to file for divorce.