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Why is separation required before divorce?

Why is separation required before divorce?

Getting a divorce can be a long process. Spouses looking to divorce must determine countless details to split up the joint lives they made during their marriage. This involves several steps, including dividing property, negotiating custody and determining if financial support is necessary.

However, before Virginia individuals can start the process of their divorce, they must first separate.

Virginia law requires spouses to separate before filing for divorce

There are certain requirements that spouses must meet to obtain a divorce in Virginia. In addition to the residency requirement, spouses must also have been separated for a period of:

  • Six months if the spouses have no children and establish a separation agreement; or
  • One year if the spouses have minor children.

There are certain situations where spouses can obtain an immediate divorce, such as if they are at risk of domestic violence. Otherwise, spouses must be separated for the required amount of time before filing for divorce.

Why is this necessary?

Essentially, this requirement provides proof of the breakdown of the marriage, which makes up the grounds for a no-fault divorce. It is built-in evidence within the divorce process since living separately for a period is a part of the breakdown of the marriage.

However, this period of separation can also benefit spouses by:

  • Giving them time to make sure that a divorce is the right decision for them;
  • Allowing spouses time to negotiate the details of their agreements, including their property settlement agreement or custody arrangement; and
  • Letting spouses experience what a divorce might be like and get accustomed to this new life before they even file for divorce.

Plan the timeline of your divorce

Virginia does not have a formal process that spouses must follow to separate – aside from potentially establishing a separation agreement. However, they must mark the official date of their separation. This is essential because it:

  1. Determines when they can officially file for divorce; and
  2. Impacts the calculation and process of asset division.

That is why spouses must carefully consider how they approach divorce. The experienced divorce attorneys at Bowen Ten Cardani, PC, can help individuals tailor a plan to their needs and guide them through their divorce.