no fault divorceHistorically, the government has taken an interest in keeping married couples together. Prior to the advent of no-fault divorce, the party seeking a divorce must have established some ground for the divorce, such as marital misconduct or habitual drunkenness. Virginia is one of the states that still recognizes fault grounds for divorce, but has also established a ground which does not require fault. Because of the complexities of Virginia family law, anyone seeking a divorce should discuss their case with a Virginia divorce lawyer before taking any legal action.

Virginia law recognizes two types of divorce – divorce from bed and board and divorce from the bond of matrimony. Below is some information about each.

Divorce from Bed and Board

Divorce from bed and board is a partial divorce in which the parties no longer cohabitate but are not yet allowed to remarry. There are two grounds that are recognized as valid for this type of divorce:

  • Willful desertion and abandonment – This ground requires that one party end cohabitation with an intent to desert the other party. Importantly, consensual separation is not sufficient to establish ground for this type of divorce.
  • Cruelty and reasonable apprehension of bodily harm – “Cruelty” refers to act that cause bodily harm and make a spouse’s living conditions unsafe.

As a partial divorce, divorce from bed and board can be merged into a decree for a full divorce (discussed below) after a year after the parties have separated.

Divorce from the Bond of Matrimony

Divorce from the bond of matrimony is a complete and final divorce. The grounds for this type of divorce are:

  • Separation – This is Virginia’s version of a no-fault divorce. A complete divorce will be granted if the spouses can show that they have intended to and in fact have lived apart continuously for more than one year. If there are no children and the parties have entered into an agreement regarding property or separation the time they must be apart is only 6 months.
  • Adultery, sodomy, or buggery – Adultery refers to sexual relations with another person, sodomy means a sexual act other than intercourse, and buggery refers to a sexual act against nature, such as bestiality.
  • Conviction of a crime – if either spouse has been convicted of a crime and sentenced to more than one year in prison, the other spouse has grounds for a complete divorce.

It is  important to note that while Virginia law allows for no-fault divorce, fault may still be an issue when determining the division of marital property or awarding maintenance (alimony) to either party.

Contact a Virginia divorce attorney today

If you are considering getting a divorce, you should discuss your case with an experienced attorney as soon as possible. To schedule a free consultation with Virginia family law attorney Raymond B. Benzinger, call our office today at (703) 312-0410.

divorceFacing divorce can be extraordinarily stressful and emotionally trying. Not only is your life completely changing, but you may worry about losing your children, your home, your possessions, and more. Luckily, you do not have to go through the divorce process by yourself. Experienced Virginia divorce attorney Raymond B. Benzinger can walk you through every step of the divorce process to take the some of the stress off of you, so that you may focus on the things that are most important—your kids and your well-being.

There are other reasons why you should have an attorney, including the following:

  • Your spouse will likely hire an attorney. If your spouse has a lawyer to fight on his or her behalf, you should never try to negotiate on your own. Negotiating is often a specialty in the legal profession, and a lawyer is always working to get the best possible outcome for their client—your spouse—often at your expense. An attorney knows how to negotiate with other attorneys and will stand up for your rights and interests.
  • You may make mistakes. Every divorce court has its own procedures with different deadlines for different forms and filings. An attorney will be familiar with the rules and laws in your area, so you do not have to worry about making a costly error.
  • There are complicated and emotional issues in the divorce. People often do not think with a clear head when it comes to matters involving their children, home, or money. An attorney can give you an objective opinion and point out issues that you may not have recognized on your own.
  • To reduce stress. Divorce is stressful enough as it is, and having a lawyer handling your affairs will simply take some of the stress off of you.

Contact a Virginia divorce lawyer today

Though there are always situations in which couples handle their divorce on their own without complications, these instances are rare and most divorcing couples encounter roadblocks caused from inability to agree on certain terms or because they are not familiar with the law. For this reason, it is always a good idea to consult with an experienced and dedicated Virginia family law lawyer to discuss your case. Do not hesitate to contact the office of Raymond B. Benzinger at (703) 312-0410 for assistance today.

 

 

separationMany couples spend a certain period of time living separate from one another prior to filing for divorce and during the divorce process. In fact, if you are seeking a no-fault divorce in Virginia, the law requires that you live apart for at least one year before a divorce will be granted. This separation period may be lessened to six months if you have no minor children and have a Separation Agreement in place. Though you are still legally married during a period of separation, there are still many legal issues that may arise when a couple separates.

Unlike many states, Virginia does not have legal separation under the law. However, the law does allow separated couples to sign a contract known as a Separation Agreement. A Separation Agreement is a binding contract that can be enforced in court that may cover the following issues and more:

Most of the issues in a Separation Agreement are similar to the issues addressed in a divorce. These agreements are important because sometimes separated couples cannot agree and there are many matters that need to be addressed. Some specific matters some couples must agree on include who will pay certain bills, who has access to the family home, who will provide health insurance for children, who will pay for other expenses related to minor children, whether one spouse may leave town with the children, will the spouses be banned from cohabitating with another person in front of the children, and more.

If you and your spouse decide to get divorced, a Separation Agreement can be incorporated into a divorce agreement. If you decide to reconcile and live together again, the Separation Agreement will be voided unless you have specified otherwise.

Contact a Virginia family law attorney for help

If your spouse approaches you and wants you to sign a Separation Agreement, you should always consult with an experienced Virginia family law attorney before you sign anything. An attorney can help identify any unfair provisions and stand up for your best interests. Do not hesitate to call Raymond B. Benzinger at (703) 312-0410 today.

high asset divorceProperty division is always a major factor in divorces. For some couples, this determination is relatively simple, as they may not have many assets or even own a house together. However, for couples with a high net worth, property division may be exponentially more complex. Because there is so much on the line, it is especially important that you consult with an experienced attorney if you are considering divorce and you have significant assets.

Some assets that may be at issue in a high net worth divorce include:

  • Real property, including the primary residence, real estate properties, and vacation homes.
  • Personal property, such as motor vehicles, recreational vehicles, jewelry, art collections, antiques, furniture, and more.
  • Bank accounts
  • Business entities
  • Stocks or corporate stock options
  • Investments, which may be interstate or international
  • Retirement accounts

In order to ensure an equitable division of the above assets, a couple must first determine the value of all of those assets. This may be quite the endeavor, as a couple may have property, investments, and other assets all over the world. Furthermore, valuation of assets may be difficult because one spouse may attempt to hide certain assets, may have overseas accounts, or may have concealed certain sources of income from tax returns. For these reasons, valuation in high net worth divorces often requires the assistance of financial experts. An experienced high asset divorce attorney knows which experts are reliable and cost effective in order to ensure you receive a fair division of property.

Additionally, property division can be directly related to spousal support payments for the spouse who has less earning power. An experienced Virginia divorce lawyer can help you decide whether it is in your best interest to receive higher alimony payments and less property, or vice versa. An attorney can help to make sure your current high standard of living is preserved following a divorce.

Many couples with a high net worth also do not want details of their financial matters exposed to the public. The Law Offices of Raymond B. Benzinger will handle your high assets divorce with discretion and respect for your privacy. If you are facing a high net worth divorce, call (703) 312-0410 to schedule a consultation with Raymond Benzinger today.

divorce thoughtsA Virginia court will not simply grant a divorce because two people ask for one.  Divorce is a permanent and drastic measure for a married couple, one which courts do not consider lightly.  Therefore, when you petition a court in Virginia for a divorce, you must give a reason.  These reasons are called “grounds.”  The acceptable grounds for divorce vary from state to state, so you should always consult with a family law attorney familiar with Virginia law if you plan to file for divorce in Virginia.  Furthermore, you cannot simply make up grounds for divorce and expect the court to believe you, because the court will require you to provide evidence of the grounds you stated.

Virginia divorce law sets out the following possible grounds for divorce:

Voluntary separation—This is the ground for a “no-fault” divorce, meaning one spouse is not blaming the other’s actions for the failure of the marriage.  When two people have voluntarily lived apart continuously for one year, they have satisfied grounds for a no-fault divorce.

Adultery—In Virginia, one spouse must actually have sexual intercourse with another person outside the marriage to be an adulterer, as other sexual acts do not qualify as adultery or grounds for a divorce.

Cruelty—In order to be adequate grounds for divorce, cruelty generally must endanger a spouse, render continuing to cohabitate unsafe, or cause bodily harm.  Cruelty can also include abusive language, insults, and other verbal behaviors that endanger mental and emotional health.

Desertion—There are two types of desertion: actual and constructive.  Actual desertion means one spouse packed their bags and left.  Constructive desertion means that one spouse “leaves” the relationship, but not necessarily the shared home, and causes the divorce-seeking spouse to move out.  This can include cruel behavior, prolonged willful refusal of sex, or other destruction of the home life.

Felony Conviction—This qualifies when one spouse is convicted of a felony, is incarcerated for at least one year, and the other spouse does not voluntarily resume cohabitation afterward.

Proving grounds is necessary for the court to grant your divorce.  If you are seeking a divorce, always contact family law attorney Raymond B. Benzinger for help with your case.


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