What requirements should I know for a Virginia divorce?

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June 13, 2022Author: Grant Moher, Esq.

What requirements should I know for a Virginia divorce?

Whether you are considering a divorce, are preparing to file for divorce, or are facing divorce papers, it’s important to know the basic requirements for a Virginia divorce. Because the divorce process is complicated and because your parental and financial rights hang in the balance, working closely with an experienced Fairfax family law attorney is the surest path forward.

Filing for Divorce in Virginia

Virginia divorces are filed in circuit courts, and in order to file, either you or your spouse must have been a resident of the state for at least six months. The separation requirement depends upon whether or not you and your divorcing spouse share children, and it breaks down as follows:


  • If you and your divorcing spouse do not have minor children, you cannot file until after you’ve been separated for at least six months and have completed a written property settlement agreement.
  • If you and your divorcing spouse do not have minor children, you cannot file until after you’ve been separated for at least one year.


The spouse who files for divorce must have the other served with the divorce papers, and there are three basic methods for doing so, including:

  • If your spouse lives in Virginia, he or she can be served through the Office of the Sheriff.
  • If your spouse does not live in Virginia, you’ll need to make arrangements to have him or her served.
  • If your spouse agrees to accept service of your divorce papers, you can mail the divorce documents to him or her directly – or he or she can accept service through the Circuit Court Civil Intake Division.

The Separation Requirement

The Separation requirement in Virginia is generally achieved when one spouse moves out of the marital home, but the state also recognizes couples who live separate and apart while remaining in the same home. The guidelines for accomplishing this level of separation, however, are specific.

There is also a requirement of intent, which means that at least one of you must have decided that your marriage is over and must have voiced this intention to the other. In order to establish that you have reached your separation time requirement, it’s advisable to establish one’s intention of divorcing – as of a specific date – in writing.

Fault-Based vs. No-Fault Divorce

Virginia offers both fault-based and no-fault divorces. The grounds for fault-based divorces in the state include:

  • Adultery
  • Confinement that lasts longer than one year
  • Felony conviction
  • Desertion
  • Cruelty

Virginia is one of the only states in the nation that requires third-party corroboration for fault-based divorces (and only recently dropped the requirement for no-fault divorces). The matter of fault must be proven in fault-based divorces, but when granted, it can affect how the divorce terms are resolved.

No-fault divorces are a more straightforward process in which neither spouse blames the other for the dissolution of the marriage.

Contact an Experienced Fairfax Family Law Attorney Near You

The best divorce attorneys at Curran Moher Weis in Fairfax, Virginia, focus their practice on skillfully protecting the parental and financial rights of clients like you – throughout the divorce process. Your case is important, so please don’t wait to contact or call us at (571) 328-5020 for more information today.

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