FAQ: Divorce Proceedings in Virginia

When a client comes to us seeking advice about, and representation in, a divorce, they normally have lots of questions! And, while each situation is, of course, unique, divorce proceedings in Virginia always have specific filing requirements and a general timeline of events that must be adhered to. Below are answers to some of the most common questions clients have.

What are the requirements for filing for divorce in Virginia?

Either you or your spouse must have been a resident of Virginia for at least 6 months prior to filing. The court that will hear your case (and where you file) is dependent upon the county in which you or your spouse lives.


What are the grounds for divorce in Virginia?

There are both “No Fault” and “Fault” Grounds for divorce in Virginia.

No Fault Grounds

  • Where the parties do not have any minor children, they must have been living separate and apart for 6 months, and have an executed property settlement agreement
  • Where there are minor children, the parties must have been living separate and apart for at least one year.

Common Fault Grounds

  • Adultery
  • Cruelty
  • Desertion


What does living “separate and apart” mean?

The parties are not living under the same roof, without interruption, and without cohabitation, and there is no hope of reconciliation.

Often for economic reasons, some couples attempt to live “separate and part” in the same home. Some courts have allowed this, but the evidence required to prove that the parties were, truly, living separate and apart from one another is incredible high!


How do you determine the “date of separation”?

This is when one party, having the intent and so as to obtain a divorce, separates from the other. This is often when one of the parties’ leaves the marital home.


I meet the filing requirements above; now what?

The following is a general list of the procedural stages of divorce proceedings in Virginia

  • File Complaint for Divorce and serve spouse
  • Spouse must file an Answer and Cross-Complaint (if desired)
  • A Pendente Lite hearing may occur to discuss and settle issues of temporary support and/or custody during the pendency of the divorce
  • Discovery
  • If any motions are filed, they will be heard
  • When custody is at issue, some jurisdictions provide a separate hearing for that alone
  • Trial date is set
  • Parties may attempt to negotiate a settlement agreement
  • Final hearing. Parties present witnesses and evidence supporting the relief requested, which may include distribution of marital assets (discussed in more detail in my post “Divorce and Property Division in Virginia”), support orders, and attorneys’ fees

We understand how difficult and overwhelming it can be to contemplate the end of your marriage and all that divorce entails, and are committed to providing you with comprehensive support and advocacy! If you think that your marriage may be nearing its end, and would like to discuss the ins and outs of divorce, or have specific questions about divorce proceedings in Virginia, please contact us! Additional family law and divorce resources can be found here.

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