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How to Separate While Living in the Same House

With the economy in the "you-know-what" and the real estate market continuing to circle the drain, it has become more and more common for husband and wife to continue to have to live together even though they don't want to be husband and wife anymore. So how do they ever get divorced if Virginia law requires a separation of at least six months, and if you have children, twelve months?

The Courts have begun to realize that you can live "separate and apart" while living under the same roof if certain conditions can be met. Some steps to take to satisfy the Court:

  • Complete sexual abstinence.
  • Establishment of 2 households for eating, cooking, cleaning, laundry, grocery shopping. The idea is you guys are roommates.
  • Stop wearing wedding rings.
  • Separate bedrooms.
  • Separate checking accounts.
  • Do not attend church together.
  • No gift-giving on holidays.
  • Make it known to close friends, relatives that you are separated.
  • Have a third party come to the home from time to time to observe the spouses' separate living quarters.
  • If you can, use separate entrances.

If you follow these steps you should be able to prove separation.


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The Virginia court may decree that maintenance and support of a spouse be made in periodic payments for a defined duration, or in periodic payments for an undefined duration, or in a lump sum award, or in any combination thereof. The court, in determining whether to award spousal support and maintenance for a spouse, shall consider the circumstances and factors that contributed to the dissolution of the marriage, specifically including adultery and any other ground for divorce. In determining the nature, amount and duration, the court shall consider a number of things including, but not limited to, the needs and financial resources of the parties, the contributions of each party to the well-being of the family, and the extent to which either party has contributed to the attainment of education, training, career position or profession of the other party.
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