Ending a marriage is rarely an easy or simple task. Divorcing couples face confusion and hardships regarding property division, custody and court procedures. Understanding Virginia divorce law gives divorcing couples the clarity they need to understand the process and get through it more easily. Here are the answers to some common questions about divorcing in Virginia.
1. Do I get a no-fault or fault divorce?
Virginia recognizes both no-fault and fault divorces. A divorcing couple must live apart for a year or longer to qualify for a no-fault divorce. Grounds for a fault divorce include:
- Felony conviction with sentencing and imprisonment
- Adultery, sodomy or buggery
- Fear of physical harm
- Willful abandonment
Detailed proof is needed for a fault divorce. While it may be a more complex process, sometimes it can affect how alimony is awarded or marital property is divided.
2. Is there a residency requirement?
At least one spouse is required to have lived in the state for at least six months. Members of the armed forces must be stationed in the state for six months to satisfy this requirement. Spouses who have been stationed outside the country can show proof of residency of six months to qualify.
3. How will my property be divided?
Virginia is an equitable distribution state, which means that marital property is divided fairly based on several factors. This may not result in a direct split. Separate property is not subject to division, and includes all the following:
- Property owned before the marriage
- Property obtained after separation
- Property inherited or received as a gift from an outside party
During an equitable division of marital assets, the court considers the monetary contributions of each spouse. Retirement plans and pensions acquired during the marriage are subject to equitable division.
4. Who is obligated to pay child support?
Supporting a minor child is a responsibility of both parents by Virginia law. The payment owed by each parent is dependent on various factors, including income and the time-sharing agreement. The child support payment is calculated based on what the child needs and the financial ability of each parent to pay.
While divorce may be complicated, understanding the inner workings of the law and procedures helps the process go more smoothly. Because states differ on some details, it is important to know how Virginia treats the details of divorce. If you are getting divorced or are planning on it in the near future, a qualified attorney can guide you through the process.