Unlike some other states, there is no formal process for legal separation in Virginia. When two parties start to live apart, they are considered separated for purposes of establishing that they are eligible for divorce. In Virginia, many grounds for a divorce, including the commonly used no fault divorce, require that the couple be separated for one year.
On the other hand, for those who may wish to remain legally married yet need orders to protect their property and their children, there is no separate process for doing so. A person may be able to get some relief by asking for a divorce from bed and board.
In a bed and board divorce proceeding, a court will distribute property and set up custody, parenting time and child support. Additionally, the court may even order alimony, which also is referred to as spousal support in Virginia. However, it is important to remember that despite all of this, the couple will remain legally married.
Moreover, it is important to remember that a divorce from bed and board is a legal proceeding; thus, one's entitlement to a bed and board divorce has to be proven in court. This can actually be somewhat tricky, particularly when there is no evidence of domestic violence or abuse.
For example, someone wanting a bed and board divorce may then have to prove that one spouse deserted the other spouse, meaning he or she unilaterally left the home with no intention of returning.
People may wish to consider a bed and board divorce for a number of financial, emotional or moral reasons. A resident of the Harrisonburg area should feel free to discuss this option with his or her attorney.