Most people getting married in Virginia do not anticipate their marriage might end in divorce, but that is the reality for some people. In Virginia, there are two different ways a person can end their marriage. A person can seek a divorce from the bond of matrimony or a divorce from bed and board.
People may be familiar with a divorce from the bond of matrimony. This is a divorce that, after a certain period of time has passed, completely ends the marriage. A divorce from the bond of matrimony must be based on one of several grounds, the most common being a “no fault” divorce. Once the divorce is complete, the spouses may marry another individual.
A divorce from bed and board is different. In a divorce from bed and board, the couple will be granted a legal separation, but they will not be allowed to marry another individual. However, after 12 months have passed since the initial separation, one or both spouses can move the court to merge the separation into a divorce from the bond of matrimony.
Like a divorce from the bond of matrimony, a divorce from bed and board must be based on one of several grounds. One of these grounds is willful desertion or abandonment. If both parties consent to the separation, this cannot constitute willful desertion or abandonment. Willful desertion or abandonment only exists when one party stops cohabitating with the other, and intentionally deserts them. However, if one party stops cohabitating with the other after being the victim of acts of cruelty, this does not constitute desertion.
Another ground is cruelty and reasonable apprehension of bodily harm. To cite this ground of divorce, there must exist acts of bodily harm that make it dangerous for the parties to live together. Mental cruelty alone does not suffice.
A divorce from bed and board is different from a divorce from the bond of matrimony. A person seeking a divorce will need to carefully consider which type of divorce to pursue. It is imperative that they understand the differences between these two types of divorce so that they can make an informed decision.