alt="Photo of Attorneys Cynthia M. Radomsky & Sonya L. Powell"

Family Focused.
Results Driven.

Photo of Cynthia M. Radomsky & Sonya L. Powell

What are the grounds for divorce in Virginia?

On Behalf of | Feb 16, 2024 | Divorce |

If you are contemplating divorce in Virginia, you may wonder if you need to show grounds for your divorce. Virginia law permits both no-fault and fault-based divorces, offering options based on your circumstances.

No-fault divorce

In Virginia, a no-fault divorce allows you to end your marriage without blaming your spouse. In a no-fault divorce, the parties agree that they have irreconcilable differences. They just also have been separated for at least one year (with no cohabitation).

Under specific conditions, this separation period can be reduced to 6 months if a written separation agreement addressing property, spousal support and child-related matters is in place, and there are no minor children involved. However, disagreements on asset division, alimony or child custody may still require court intervention if negotiation or mediation fails.

Fault-based divorce

Opting for a fault-based divorce involves accusing your spouse of specific wrongdoing that led to the marriage’s breakdown. Virginia law recognizes five fault-based grounds.

The first is adultery. This requires proving that your spouse engaged in sexual relations outside the marriage. Direct evidence like eyewitness accounts, emails, text messages or indirect proof like opportunity, inclination or guilt could be used.

The second is sodomy or buggery. This requires demonstrating that your spouse participated in prohibited sexual activities. Proof similar to adultery can be used.

The third is felony conviction. This requires confirming your spouse’s felony conviction, imprisonment for over a year and no cohabitation after confinement. Official records of the conviction and proof of no cohabitation are required.

The fourth is cruelty. This requires providing evidence of physical or mental abuse or reasonable fear of harm, leading to separation within a year of the abusive acts. Medical records, police reports, protective orders, photographs or witness statements can be used.

The final is desertion or abandonment. This requires establishing that your spouse willfully left without consent, refused to resume cohabitation and resulted in a separation of over one year. Evidence of intention, such as letters or messages and proof of separation for over a year is needed.

Whether to choose fault based

While a fault-based divorce may offer advantages like a potentially shorter waiting period or preventing spousal support, it has downsides. This includes the need for clear and convincing evidence, possible counterclaims and public exposure of personal matters in court records. In conclusion, navigating divorce in Virginia involves a thoughtful consideration of legal grounds and their implications.


FindLaw Network