Legal Separation in Northern Virginia

Legal separation in Northern Virginia is considerably different that you are probably imaging based upon how things work in other jurisdictions.  However, there are still various reasons why you wish to get a legal separation instead of petitioning the court for divorce absolute. One of the most common reasons for requesting a legal separation is if you can no longer stand to be married, or you marriage is no longer safe, but your religious beliefs prevent you for getting a divorce absolute.  That being said, getting a legal separation in Northern Virginia is a rather complicated process and you should speak an experienced attorney about your actual case.

A legal separation in Northern Virginia is called a divorce a mesa et thoro, or a divorce from bed and board as it is also called.  This is different from traditional divorce which is known as a divorce a vinculo matrimonii or divorce from the bonds of matrimony. Northern Virginia divorce attorney and courts will also use the term absolute divorce.

Grounds for a Legal Separation in Virginia

If after speaking with Northern Virginia divorce attorney, you decide that getting a separation from bed and board is the appropriate course of action, it is helpful to understands he grounds upon which you file such a matter.  In the Commonwealth of Virginia, he law provides a legal separation requires on of the following to be met:

  • Willful Desertion or Abandonment – to file for a legal separation based upon this ground, you must prove that your spouse broke off cohabitation (living together as husband and wife) as an intentional act to dissolve the marriage. A mutual agreement to separate is not sufficient for a legal separation in Northern Virginia. However, it should also be noted that is one spouse is cruel to the other, and that innocent spouse is forced to leave, he or she is not liable for will desertion.  In fact, he or she can use the cruelty as grounds for filing a divorce.  A spouse can file for a separation from bed and board immediately after the offense occurs, but must wait a year before filing for divorce absolute.
  • Cruelty and Reasonable Apprehension of bodily harm – If one spouse is physically cruel to the other spouse and that cruelty is enough to render continued cohabitation unsafe, the injured party could file a legal separation. However, if there is only mental cruelty without physical cruelty, that is not likely to be sufficient to justify cruelty for the purpose of obtaining a legal Separation in Northern Virginia.  As general rule, abuse language that does not constitute a threat of physical harm will not satisfy the legal requirement.

While the legal separation rules in the Commonwealth of Virginia are not as progressive as they are in other jurisdictions, you should speak with an experienced family law attorney if you are interested in pursuing this type of matter.

The family law attorneys at DiPietro Family Law Group have years of experience handling domestic relations cases in jurisdictions across Northern Virginia, Washington, DC and Maryland.  Contact us to schedule a consultation today at (703) 370-5555.

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