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Do I need to have a specific reason to ask for divorce?

Divorce can be confusing to people because there are two types of divorce recognized by Virginia law. Divorce from bed and board is a partial divorce that allows a couple to legally separate but does not allow remarriage. However, when most people use the word divorce, they are referring to a complete divorce, also called a divorce from the bond of matrimony.

If you intend to seek a divorce, you must have a legally valid reason, called a ground. Virginia recognizes several fault grounds and a no-fault ground for a divorce from the bond of matrimony.

What are fault grounds?

Fault grounds blame the need for divorce on specific actions your spouse may have taken. In Virginia, fault grounds include:

  • Adultery
  • Sodomy
  • Buggery
  • Willful desertion for at least a year
  • Cruelty, after at least a year has passed
  • Felony conviction resulting in a prison sentence of more than one year

If you allege that one of the fault grounds occurred, you will probably need to provide proof. Also, your spouse may be able to defend against your accusation. If you cannot adequately prove that a fault ground occurred or if your spouse successfully defends against your accusation, a court may not grant your divorce.

What is a no-fault ground?

A no-fault ground for divorce may be an appropriate choice if your spouse did not commit misconduct or if you do not have adequate proof of misconduct. To get a no-fault divorce, you must intentionally live separate from your spouse for over a year before filing for divorce. If you have entered into a separation agreement, you may only need to live separate from your spouse for six months before filing for divorce.

If you think it is necessary to end your marriage, you have probably spent a great deal of time considering your personal reason for doing so. However, you will also need to choose a legally valid reason to divorce. Understanding the different grounds for divorce can help you make the best divorce decisions for your situation.

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Harrisonburg, VA 22802

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