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What is fault-based divorce in Virginia?

Most modern divorces are no-fault divorces. In fact, there are some states where no-fault divorce is the only option. Couples must focus on the practical implications of their divorce rather than on attempts to lay blame for the failure of their marriage during their divorce proceedings.

In Virginia, fault-based divorces are an option for couples contemplating the end of their marriages. When one spouse decides to file for divorce but maintains that the other is the reason the marriage failed, they can ask the courts to grant a divorce based on fault. What does a fault-based divorce in Virginia involve?

You must have qualifying grounds for divorce

Virginia state law includes very specific scenarios in which one spouse can blame the other for the end of their marriage. Adultery is one of the most commonly cited grounds for a fault-based divorce. The courts will also consider fault-based proceedings when one spouse gets convicted of a felony and faces a year or more of confinement following the marriage.

Cases involving physical and emotional abuse, as well as abandonment, can lead to fault-based divorce proceedings. The spouse filing for divorce will typically need corroborating evidence if they hope to convince a family law judge that their circumstances qualify. Police reports, medical records, financial documents and witness statements are among the evidence that can help build the case for a fault-based divorce.

Why do people pursue fault-based divorces?

A no-fault divorce based on a lengthy separation is often a faster and less stressful option than fault-based divorces. However, judges can consider marital misconduct in Virginia when dividing property and making choices about spousal support or alimony. There are also many couples who have marital agreements that may penalize one partner or the other for misconduct.

The downside to a fault-based divorce is that you will actually have to prove your situation meets the legal standard for such a divorce. If you don’t have good evidence or if your spouse effectively defends themselves, the courts could deny you a divorce. The situation leading to your filing and the evidence that you have, as well as your reason for thinking about a fault-based divorce, can all influence the final decision about how you proceed with your marital dissolution.

Learning more about Virginia divorce statutes will help those contemplating the end of their marriage.

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