Virginia is known as the Old Dominion, which is a nickname that was given as an expression of gratitude from Charles II for the loyalty Virginians showed in the English Civil War in the 1640s. Virginia also has some old-fashioned divorce laws, so if your marriage is headed for a civil war you should get to know the divorce laws in Virginia.
Virginia divorce laws – Adultery
For the most part, “fault” divorces have gone the way of the dinosaur. Getting a divorce used to require proving that your spouse did something wrong, and adultery was perhaps the most common fault ground for divorce. In fact, many couples that simply wanted to split up amicably had to fake an affair in order to get a divorce. Virginia divorce laws does still have adultery as a fault ground for divorce, along with sodomy, buggary (look it up), conviction for a felony, cruelty, desertion, and abandonment.
Most divorces in Virginia or anywhere else in the country are granted on a no-fault basis. That said, fault divorces do happen in Virginia because the no-fault grounds for divorce can be burdensome. The no-fault ground for divorce is living “separate and apart without any cohabitation and without interruption for one year.” This is kind of an old-fashioned concept that a couple needs to really have some time apart before they can be sure a divorce is appropriate.
The long separation requirement means a couple has to stay legally married for a year while carrying on separate lives before a divorce can be granted according to the Virginia divorce laws. There is an expedited process for couples with no kids that can settle property disputes on their own, but for some people a divorce based on adultery may be easier.
Virginia divorce laws – Alimony
Virginia does allow its courts to order a “decree as to maintenance and support of spouses,” which is commonly called alimony. This is another old-fashioned concept in the Virginia divorce laws.
Historically, husbands were thought to have some obligation to care for their ex-wives. This idea is fading, but it does still come up in Virginia and the courts have a lot of discretion over what amount of alimony is appropriate.
State of Virginia divorce laws for children
Perhaps the most important role for the government in a divorce is in caring for the dependent children of a divorcing couple. Virginia laws are fairly consistent with the rest of the country. The court must address both legal and physical custody. Legal custody means having the power to make major decisions for a child. Physical custody means having the child live with you. These issues are usually resolved by an agreement, but if the couple cannot work it out then the court must decide what is in the best interest of the child.
Child support payments are based on a worksheet that relies on custody determinations. The key factors are how much each spouse earns and how much time they spend with the child. This gives a guideline to the court, which the judge can vary if there is a reason that the guideline amount would be unfair.