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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.

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