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Virginia Divorce Facts

When going through a divorce in in Virginia, it's helpful to have some key information. Below you will find some of the most important facts everyone getting a divorce in the state of Virginia should know. The facts listed here are only a selected few of the more comprehensive set of Virginia Divorce Laws available for your reference. Remember, every state's law is different, and if you're not sure about a law in your state, you should ask a qualified Virginia Divorce Professional.

  • One of the parties must be a resident and domiciliary of Virginia for at least six months preceding the filing for divorce.
  • A divorce may be granted on the no-fault grounds of living separate and apart without any cohabitation and without interruption for one year, or if there are no children of the marriage, six months, or the fault grounds of adultery, incarceration, or cruelty.
  • A divorce from bed and board may be decreed for cruelty, reasonable apprehension of bodily hurt, or willful desertion or abandonment.
  • Spouses contesting child custody, visitation, or support must attend a parenting class. The court may also order attendance in uncontested cases.
  • Virginia is an equitable distribution state, which means if the spouses don't agree, the marital estate will be divided fairly but not necessarily equally. In dividing property the court considers the contributions, "monetary and non-monetary," of each spouse, the duration of the marriage, the ages and conditions of each spouse, how marital property was acquired, the debts and liabilities of each spouse, tax consequences, dissipation, the "character of all marital property," and "other factors as the court deems necessary or appropriate to consider in order to arrive at a fair and equitable monetary award."
  • Separate property is (1) all property, real and personal, acquired by either party before the marriage; (2) all property acquired during the marriage by bequest, devise, descent, survivorship or gift from a source other than the other party; (3) all property acquired during the marriage in exchange for or from the proceeds of sale of separate property, provided that such property acquired during the marriage is maintained as separate property; and (4) that part of any property classified as separate property.
  • The 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 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 the following: the obligations, needs and financial resources of the parties, including but not limited to income from all pension, profit sharing or retirement plans, of whatever nature; the standard of living established during the marriage, the duration of the marriage, the age and physical and mental condition of the parties and any special circumstances of the family, the extent to which the age, physical or mental condition or special circumstances of any child of the parties would make it appropriate that a party not seek employment outside of the home, the contributions of each party to the well-being of the family, the property interests of the parties, both real and personal, tangible and intangible, the provisions made with regard to the marital property division, the earning capacity, including the skills, education and training of the parties and the present employment opportunities for persons possessing such earning capacity, the opportunity for, ability of, and the time and costs involved for a party to acquire the appropriate education, training and employment to obtain the skills needed to enhance his or her earning ability, the decisions regarding employment, career, economics, education and parenting arrangements made by the parties during the marriage and their effect on present and future earning potential, including the length of time one or both of the parties have been absent from the job market, the extent to which either party has contributed to the attainment of education, training, career position or profession of the other party and such other factors, including the tax consequences to each party, as are necessary to consider the equities between the parties.
  • The court gives primary consideration to the best interests of the child in determining custody. The court assures minor children of frequent and continuing contact with both parents, when appropriate, and encourages parents to share in the responsibilities of rearing their children. As between the parents, there is no presumption or inference of law in favor of either, and the court may award joint custody or sole custody. In determining the best interests of a child, the court considers a variety of factors including the age, physical and mental condition of the child as well as each parent, the needs of the child, the role of each parent and the rapport of each parent, and the "willingness and demonstrated ability of each parent to maintain a close and continuing relationship with the child, and the ability of each parent to cooperate in and resolve disputes regarding matters affecting the child," family abuse, and "other factors as the court deems necessary and proper to the determination."
  • Virginia calculates child support on the Income Shares model, which bases the level of support on the combined income of both parents. In any proceeding on the issue of determining child support, the court may order health care coverage for dependent children and for a spouse or former spouse, and it may order a party to maintain any existing life insurance coverage.
  • A premarital agreement shall be in writing and signed by both parties. Such an agreement shall be enforceable without consideration and shall become effective upon marriage.

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