When a couple decides to file for a divorce, there must be grounds for filing the divorce. Grounds are legal reasons that caused the breakdown of the marriage.
There are two types of divorces in the state of Virginia:
- Fault divorce
- No-fault divorce.
A no-fault divorce is where both spouses reach a mutual agreement that the marriage must come to an end and there is no hope of reconcilement. A couple that wishes to file for a no-fault divorce must be legally separated for at least 12 months before filing for their divorce. This time period may be reduced to six months if the couple signs a Separation Agreement and do not have any minor children. Legal separation is the only grounds for a fault divorce in the state of Virginia.
A fault divorce is where either one of the spouses commits marital misconduct that causes the breakdown of the marriage. There are a number of grounds that can be used in a fault divorce. These include:
Adultery in Virginia is the sexual intercourse between a spouse and an individual other than their wife/husband. If the spouse filing for a divorce accuses the other spouse of adultery, they must provide proof of disposition and opportunity to the court. Adulterous disposition can be shown through photo evidence of the guilty spouse kissing, hugging and the displaying of any other forms of public affection towards another individual. Opportunity is proved by showing time periods where the guilty spouse spent significant time alone with the illicit partner. For example, the spouse is seen entering the residence of their paramour late at night and is not seen leaving until the next morning.
If either spouse in Virginia is charged and convicted of a crime and is sent to prison. The spouse must be convicted of the crime and must be sentenced to at least one year of incarceration in order for the conviction to be grounds for the divorce.
If a spouse willfully leaves the marital residence for an uninterrupted time period of at least 12 months with the intention of ending the marriage, it is considered desertion and can be used as grounds for a fault divorce. There are two types of desertion that can be used as legal grounds for a divorce; Actual Desertion and Constructive Desertion.
Actual Desertion is when the spouse physically leaves the marriage with the intent of ending the marriage.
Constructive Desertion is when the spouse does not physically leave the marital residence but is no longer involved in the marriage.
If either spouse is found guilty of physical, mental or sexual abuse in the marital household, it is considered cruelty.
Insanity can be used as grounds for a divorce. In order for an individual to file for a divorce on the grounds of insanity, their spouse must be found incurably insane by the court and must be confined in a mental institution for at least three years.
A fault divorce does not require a separation period of any kind before filing for the divorce as long as there are sufficient grounds to prove that it is a fault divorce.