Virginia Divorce Law
Virginia law allows for divorce on several fault-based grounds: adultery, cruelty (mental or physical), desertion (actual or “constructive”), or felony conviction and confinement in excess of one year. Virginia also allows for no-fault divorce, on the ground of (1) separation for at least twelve months or (2) separation for at least six months, with a separation agreement and no minor children.
Adultery. The adultery ground requires proof by “clear and convincing evidence” of sexual intercourse outside the marriage. A divorce may also be granted on proof of sodomy or buggery committed outside the marriage. Unlike some other divorce grounds, there is no waiting period before filing on the ground of adultery. Adultery can be very difficult to prove, but if proven may have serious financial implications in the divorce, at least on the issue of spousal support. For more information, including how to prove adultery, defenses to an adultery charge, and impact of adultery in a Virginia divorce, see Adultery and Divorce in Virginia.
Cruelty. The cruelty ground requires proof of “cruelty or reasonable apprehension of bodily hurt.” Acts of physical violence and conduct that endanger the life, safety, or health of one’s spouse will constitute cruelty. Abusive language, humiliating statements, and repeated neglect can also constitute cruelty. While cruelty is typically proven by evidence of a succession of acts, a single act of cruelty is sufficient if it is a very serious act. A spouse’s abuse of alcohol does not constitute cruelty unless it is coupled with other misconduct. A final divorce cannot be granted on the ground of cruelty until one year has elapsed since the acts of cruelty.
Desertion. The desertion or abandonment ground requires proof that a spouse broke off the matrimonial cohabitation with an intent to desert. Desertion does not occur when the husband and wife mutually agree to separate. “Constructive desertion” may be found where a spouse refuses to engage in sexual intercourse, without justification, while also failing to fulfill other significant marital duties. A final divorce cannot be granted on the ground of desertion until one year has elapsed since the desertion or abandonment.
A “contested divorce” is one in which the parties are in disagreement about one or more issues, such as spousal support, child custody or visitation, child support, etc. A contested divorce is not necessarily a fault-based divorce; in fact, many contested divorces are filed on no-fault grounds.
Spousal Support. Spousal support issues arise in divorces where the parties have been married for a substantial length of time and there is a significant gap in their incomes. In these cases, determination of a proper amount and duration of spousal support (called “alimony” in other states) can become very difficult. For more information, including how courts determine spousal support in Virginia, spousal support guidelines, and the tax consequences of spousal support, see Spousal Support in Virginia.
Equitable Distribution. Virginia is an equitable distribution state, meaning that the court has the authority in any divorce to classify the property of the parties as separate, marital or hybrid, to distribute any jointly owned marital property between the parties, and to grant a monetary award to either party to ensure an “equitable distribution” of marital property and debts. For more information, including the distinction between marital and separate property in Virginia, the presumption of marital debt, and marital waste or dissipation of assets, see Equitable Distribution in Virginia.
Child Custody and Visitation. Child custody and visitation disputes are among the most emotional and challenging issues to resolve in many divorce cases. For information on custody and visitation law in Virginia, including how courts decide custody, the types of custody, denial of visitation, custody evaluators, relocation and modification, see Child Custody and Visitation Law in Virginia.
Child Support. When child custody is determined as part of a contested divorce, the court must also address child support. For more information, including application of the Virginia child support guidelines, what Virginia counts as income, enforcement, voluntary reduction of income and modification of support, see Child Support in Virginia.
Military Divorce. Military divorce cases in Virginia involve a complex intersection of federal and state law, offering special challenges for divorcing servicemembers, spouses, and their attorneys. For more information on military divorce, including retired pay, disability pay, Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, Survivor Benefit Plan and Tricare benefits, see Military Divorce Law in Virginia.
Federal Retirement Division. When facing divorce, both federal civilian government employees and their spouses need to be familiar with how their retirement accounts are structured, funded, and ultimately, how they could be affected by a divorce. For information on how Virginia courts treat federal retirement benefits in divorce, including Federal Employee Retirement System (FERS), Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) and Social Security, see Federal Retirement Division in Virginia Divorce.
An “uncontested divorce” is one in which the parties have no outstanding custody, support, property, or other issues to be resolved. An uncontested divorce is almost always filed on the no-fault ground of (1) separation for at least twelve months, or (2) separation for at least six months, with a separation agreement and no minor children.
$599 Uncontested Divorce. Livesay & Myers, P.C. can process many uncontested divorce quickly, with no court appearance, for a low flat attorney’s fee of $599. The court also charges an $86 filing fee, and an optional $21 filing fee for a name change for the wife (back to her maiden name). To qualify for this $599 uncontested divorce, you must have been separated for the requisite amount of time, have no outstanding marital issues to be resolved, and your spouse must be willing to cooperate fully.
We follow a very streamlined procedure for these uncontested divorces. First, we file the divorce in a friendly jurisdiction which processes such divorces quickly and requires no court appearance. After we submit the initial paperwork to the court, we have your spouse sign a Waiver of Service of Process. Next, we meet with you in one of our offices for your “depositions.” You would need to bring along a witness—any friend, family member or co-worker who is familiar with your living situation. You and your witness would answer some questions under oath, to verify that you have been separated for the required amount of time and that you or your spouse have lived in Virginia for at least six months.
[Note: even if you don’t live anywhere near one of our offices, we can still process your uncontested divorce. Rather than conducting your depositions in person, we would simply e-mail you a set of “written depositions,” which you would complete in front of a notary public and mail back to us.]
Finally, we would submit a final package to the court, including your depositions and a divorce decree. Then, generally within a few weeks after your depositions, we would receive the signed decree back from the court, and you would be divorced!
Our Divorce Lawyers
Livesay & Myers, P.C. has a team of experienced divorce attorneys in Northern Virginia, each of them practicing exclusively family law. Be sure to read our client reviews, then examine the profiles of each of our divorce lawyers to find the one who is the best fit for you.
Fall Consultation Special. For a limited time, schedule an initial one-hour consultation with one of our divorce attorneys for just $150. Contact us today to take advantage of this discounted rate.