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When can a legal separation lead to divorce?

Before making the ultimate decision to divorce, sometimes a couple in Leesburg will separate first. They may want to just give themselves some space to determine if they truly want to end their marriage. However, it is important to understand that there is a difference between informally separating and a legal separation should the couple ultimately decide to divorce.

Any married couple can choose to live apart for a while. However, even if one party takes all their belongings and moves into a separate apartment, this doesn’t make it a legal separation. Under Virginia law, certain elements must be met in order for a separation to be considered a legal separation for divorce purposes.

Upon applying for a separation, the parties must have resided apart and must not have cohabitated for one year straight. Following that, a divorce may be granted. However, a divorce may also be granted if the parties have a separation agreement in place, do not have any minor children born of their marriage and have lived apart without cohabitating for six months straight. In either case, being separated does not mean that one spouse will not have to pay spousal support to the other spouse when the spouses ultimately divorce, unless it is a divorce from bed and board.

So, if a couple legally separates and meets certain requirements established by Virginia law, they may afterwards be granted a divorce. Not every couple who separates will decide to divorce. However, it is still important for them to understand how a legal separation could form the basis for a divorce if that is what the ultimately decide is appropriate for them.


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