Virginia law recognizes both “no fault” and “fault” divorces, and it helps to understand these distinctions and what they mean in order to better prepare yourself in the unfortunate situation of a separation or divorce.
Fault divorces are those in which the reason for the split is placed on one party. Virginia recognizes three categories that can be recognized as fault – (1) adultery/sodomy, (2) conviction of a felony and confinement following the conviction for more than a year, and (3) cruelty, causation of reasonable apprehension of bodily hurt, desertion, or abandonment. Each of these categories include definitions and situational criteria. For example, for a person to file for divorce for reasons of cruelty, the victimized person has to prove that he or she was either threatened with violence, suffered actual physical harm, or placed in reasonable fear of physical harm. Desertion refers to an intentional, permanent departure from the marriage against the wishes of the spouse, and without justifying it to the spouse. There is also what is referred to as “constructive desertion” which means that one spouse remains in the marital home physically, but through other actions, such as cruelty, has forced the other spouse to leave.
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No-fault divorces are divorces that, as the name implies, occur through no recognized fault of one spouse or the other. This requires the parties to be living separate and apart without any cohabitation and without interruption for one year, or if the parties have no minor children and have signed a separation agreement, six months
The time required to finalize a divorce varies widely for each case, as it depends on the facts for each case and the venue in which the divorce is being sought (some cities have more crowded dockets than others). If the parties reach an agreement to proceed with a no-fault, uncontested divorce, the process can now be completed through mail without a court appearance. It only requires submitting certain documents and affidavits for review and entry by a judge, saving the parties both time and money.
Divorces can be stressful, complicated matters. We’re here if you are facing this situation and need help.