Free Consultation | Available 24/7(703) 844-4519
Firm Logo

Do I have to be legally separated for a period of time before I can file for divorce in Virginia?

It can take years for a marriage to fall apart, but for many people, when it’s over, it’s over, and the faster they can finalize a divorce, the better. For couples who divorce in Virginia, the good news is that they do not have to obtain a legal separation before they can file for divorce. However, they do have to have been living apart for a period of time before they can file.

Many states require that couples go through a court process of legal separation before they can file for divorce. Virginia does not have that requirement. In fact, in most uncontested divorces, the court does not get involved until the divorce stage. However, Virginia does require the following:

  • If you have minor children, you must live “separate and apart” from each other for at least one year.
  • If you have no minor children and you have signed a separation agreement, you must live apart for at least six months.

There are legal requirements for living “separate and apart,” however, and you must make sure your arrangement meets the requirements in order for the separation period to count. The court outlines two requirements:

Physical Separation

One party must move out of the marital residence and establish a separate residence. Under very strict guidelines, however, you can stay in the same residence and still live “separate and apart” for the purposes of the separation period. However, there are strict requirements, and it is best that both parties agree to the arrangement.

Intent to End the Marriage

In addition to living separately, at least one party must communicate their intent to end the marriage to the other party. Ideally, the intent to divorce is communicated in writing. Sending an email or, potentially, a text message can document the intent.

The court will need to see evidence of the start of the separation period. This could be a signed separation agreement, a lease in one party’s name, or a dated email.

Do You Need to Speak to a Virginia Divorce Attorney?

If you are considering divorce, you need to speak with an experienced Virginia divorce attorney as soon as possible. Please contact us online or call our Fairfax, Virginia, law office at 703.277.2811 to schedule your free consultation. We help clients throughout Washington D.C., Maryland, and Virginia and look forward to helping you.

Related Links:

  • The Dangers of a Do-It-Yourself Virginia Divorce

  • Dividing Your Debt in Divorce the Right Way

  • Why Do You Want to Get Divorced?