Virginia Divorce

In Virginia, Circuit Courts are granted subject matter jurisdiction over all divorce suits, so divorce cases are filed in Virginia Circuit Courts.

In order to file a divorce suit in Virginia, at least one of the parties must be an actual bona fide resident and domiciliary of Virginia and must have been so for at least the past six months (Va. Code Section 20-97). Residency and domicile are two separate requirements and both should be present in order for a Virginia court to have jurisdiction over your divorce case.

“Actual bona fide resident” means that throughout the six months immediately before the filing of the divorce complaint, a party must have had an actual, bona fide permanent home in Virginia. however, It is not necessary for a party to have been physically present in Virginia during every day of that time in order to be an actual bona fide resident for the purposes of your Virginia divorce.

“Domicile” means that a party intends to live in a place permanently, or at least indefinitely. As stated before, this along with actual bona fide residence, is a requirement for filing a divorce in Virginia.

In most cases, a divorce case will be filed in the county where the husband and wife last cohabited or, at the option of the plaintiff, where the defendant (spouse) resides, if the defendant is a resident of Virginia.

The grounds for a final divorce in Virginia consist of:

a) A separation of 6 months, if the parties have no minor children and have entered into a separation agreement;
b) A separation of 12 months;
c) Adultery;
d) Felony conviction and confinement in excess of one year;
e) Cruelty
f) Willful desertion or abandonment

To find out more regarding divorce grounds in Virginia, contact your Virginia Divorce Lawyer at (571) 766-6860.

In most cases (there are exceptions), if you are served with summons and divorce complaint, you are required to file an answer within 21 days of service.

If you have been served with a divorce complaint, contact your divorce attorney at Khanna Law, PLLC to find out what options you have and what your next step should be.

Condonation is an affirmative defense to a divorce suit filed on the basis of adultery, desertion etc. Condonation occurs when one spouse knows of the adultery or other marital offense committed by the other spouse and freely consents to the restoration of marital rights. This is usually evidenced by a resumption of cohabitation or sexual intercourse. Keep in mind though, that a single act of sexual intercourse, without any intent to reconcile, will usually not amount to condonation of desertion.

When both spouses are guilty of marital fault grounds, recrimination will bar a divorce based on the fault conduct of either spouse. However, recrimination is not, a defense to final divorce based on a separation of the parties.

An annulment is different than a divorce because while divorce is the end of a marriage, an annulment is a court recognizing that the marriage was invalid, a nullity from the start. A marriage subject to annulment may be termed as a “void” marriage or a “voidable” marriage.

Where grounds exist, a party may choose to seek for annulment instead of a divorce on purely personal, emotional or religious reasons. For example, a person may chose to seek an annulment, if their religious beliefs prohibit remarriage.

Grounds for annulment in Virginia are:

a) Bigamy – a spouse is already married to someone else
b) Incest – the spouses are related, closer than first cousins
c) Incompetence – one spouse didn’t have the mental ability to enter the marriage
d) Fraud – a spouse only agreed to marry because of the other spouse’s deception
e) Impotence – one spouse is unable to engage in sexual relations
f) Minority – one spouse is under the legal age to be married
g) Prostitution or felony – one spouse didn’t tell the other they were a prostitute or convicted felony
h) Child by other person – a wife is pregnant by another man at the time of marriage or a husband has a child by another woman within 10 months of marriage
i) Duress – one spouse only married because of force or fear of serious harm, and
j) Sham marriage – the spouses got married for other intentions besides the normal purposes of marriage.

A divorce from “bed and board” can be awarded to the plaintiff only when the defendant spouse has been cruel to the plaintiff, has caused the plaintiff reasonable apprehension of bodily hurt, or has willfully deserted or abandoned the plaintiff. The plaintiff does not have to wait for a separation period of one year and can file the action for divorce as soon as either ground exists.