Choosing a divorce or family law attorney can be a difficult undertaking. Depending on the complexity of the situation, it can be challenging for regular people to wade through the legal options and make the best choices for themselves. However, in general, when you’re meeting with an attorney, you should feel comfortable asking the attorney to explain unfamiliar concepts with you, and go over your possible choices.
There are three main players involved in your divorce: you, your spouse, and the Commonwealth of Virginia. Just as Virginia has laws about getting married, it also has certain criteria for officially ending a marriage. Among other legal considerations, you cannot simply leave your spouse, gather your things, and immediately tell the court you need a divorce. You have to give the court an acceptable reason why you should be allowed to end your marriage. The reason is known as the ground for your divorce. In Virginia, the grounds of divorce are laid out in Code of Virginia; Title 20, Section 20-91.
You may know that you and your spouse must live separately for a period of time (either six months or a year, depending on the circumstances) before you qualify for a no-fault divorce in Virginia. But must you and your spouse live in separate households before or during a pending divorce to qualify as being separated? The short answer is “probably not.” In most cases, you and your spouse can continue to live in the same home during your separation and/or pending divorce proceedings, provided you take steps to establish an “in-home separation.”
Virginia courts generally recognize in-home separations as valid. Courts realize that sometimes divorcing spouses are unable or unwilling to maintain separate households for financial, child care, or other reasons during the divorce.
So how does an in-home separation work? That answer is a bit more complicated and there is no single way of doing it, but outlined below are some of the important things to consider when separating in the same home.