Virginia Divorce FAQ’s – Miscellaneous

This is about miscellaneous issues for divorce in Virginia, including residence requirements, grounds for divorce, common law marriage, annulment, legal separation, and any requirement for parent training in Virginia.

This information is from Wayne E. Comer, the Divorcinfo Network Lawyer for Virginia. You can click here to visit his web site.

What are the requirements for residence?

There are really two parts to this problem which could be defined as follows:

  1. the plaintiff seeks no relief or remedy from the court other than simply to sever the bonds of matrimony. The plaintiff must have had six months of uninterrupted bone fide residence in Virginia immediately prior to the filing of the suit.  The “subpart” of “A” is :  What if the plaintiff is a member of the armed services who has been stationed in Virginia but is not otherwise a resident. The answer is that this plaintiff could rely upon sub part (1) of the following Code Section:
  • 20-97. Domicile and residential requirements for such suits. — No suit for annulling a marriage or for divorce shall be maintainable, unless one of the parties is and has been an actual bona fide resident and domiciliary of this Commonwealth for at least six months preceding the commencement of the suit; nor shall any suit for affirming a marriage be maintainable, unless one of the parties be domiciled in, and is and has been an actual bona fide resident of this Commonwealth at the time of bringing such suit.

For the purposes of this section only:

  1. If a member of the armed forces of the United States has been stationed or resided in this Commonwealth and has lived for a period of six months or more in this Commonwealth next preceding the commencement of the suit, then such person shall be presumed to be domiciled in and to have been a bona fide resident of this Commonwealth during such period of time.
  2. Now we come to the second category: where the plaintiff seeks relief or remedy that goes beyond simply “severing the bond” and wants support, custody, property division, etc., etc.  In that case the plaintiff would be compelled to rely upon the Virginia so called “Long Arm” statute. Notice that in this part, (“B”) the Virginia court’s jurisdiction is based on the status of the defendant so, generally, the plaintiff would not have to show a Virginia “domicile” for the plaintiff. (is this confusing? You bet it is!) In sub Section “9” below “matrimonial domicile” is generally the place of last actual marital cohabitation
  • 8.01-328.1. When personal jurisdiction over person may be exercised. —
  1. A court may exercise personal jurisdiction over a person, who acts directly or by an agent, as to a cause of action arising from the person’s: (partial extract)
  2. Having (i) executed an agreement in this Commonwealth which obligates the person to pay spousal support or child support to a domiciliary of this Commonwealth, or to a person who has satisfied the residency requirements in suits for annulments or divorce for members of the armed forces pursuant to § 20-97 provided proof of service of process on a nonresident party is made by a law-enforcement officer or other person authorized to serve process in the jurisdiction where the nonresident party is located, (ii) been ordered to pay spousal support or child support pursuant to an order entered by any court of competent jurisdiction in this Commonwealth having in personam jurisdiction over such person, or (iii) shown by personal conduct in this Commonwealth, as alleged by affidavit, that the person conceived or fathered a child in this Commonwealth; or
  3. Having maintained within this Commonwealth a matrimonial domicile at the time of separation of the parties upon which grounds for divorce or separate maintenance is based, or at the time a cause of action arose for divorce or separate maintenance or at the time of commencement of such suit, if the other party to the matrimonial relationship resides herein.

What are the grounds for divorce?

Code of Virginia§§ 20-91. Grounds for divorce from bond of matrimony; contents of decree. A. A divorce from the bond of matrimony may be decreed(1) For adultery; or for sodomy or buggery committed outside the marriage; (2) [Repealed.] (3) Where either of the parties subsequent to the marriage has been convicted of a felony, sentenced to confinement for more than one year and confined for such felony subsequent to such conviction, and cohabitation has not been resumed after knowledge of such confinement (in which case no pardon granted to the party so sentenced shall restore such party to his or her conjugal rights); (4), (5) [Repealed.] (6) Where either party has been guilty of cruelty, caused reasonable apprehension of bodily hurt, or willfully deserted or abandoned the other, such divorce may be decreed to the innocent party after a period of one year from the date of such act; or (7), (8) [Repealed.] (9) (a) On the application of either party if and when the husband and wife have lived separate and apart without any cohabitation and without interruption for one year. In any case where the parties have entered into a separation agreement and there are no minor children either born of the parties, born of either party and adopted by the other or adopted by both parties, a divorce may be decreed on application if and when the husband and wife have lived separately and apart without cohabitation and without interruption for six months. A plea of res adjudicata or of recrimination with respect to any other provision of this section shall not be a bar to either party obtaining a divorce on this ground; nor shall it be a bar that either party has been adjudged insane, either before or after such separation has commenced, but at the expiration of one year or six months, whichever is applicable, from the commencement of such separation, the grounds for divorce shall be deemed to be complete, and the committee of the insane defendant, if there be one, shall be made a party to the cause, or if there be no committee, then the court shall appoint a guardian ad litem to represent the insane defendant.

Is there such a thing as common law marriage?

“Common law ” marriage is not recognized in Virginia.

How does annulment work?

Va. Code  §20-89.1. Suit to annul marriage. (a) When a marriage is alleged to be void or voidable for any of the causes mentioned in §§§§ 20-13, 20-38.1, 20-45.1 or by virtue of fraud or duress, either party may institute a suit for annulling the same; and upon proof of the nullity of the marriage, it shall be decreed void by a decree of annulment. (b) In the case of natural or incurable impotency of body existing at the time of entering into the marriage contract, or when, prior to the marriage, either party, without the knowledge of the other, had been convicted of a felony, or when, at the time of the marriage, the wife, without the knowledge of the husband, was with child by some person other than the husband, or where the husband, without knowledge of the wife, had fathered a child born to a woman other than the wife within ten months after the date of the solemnization of the marriage, or where, prior to the marriage, either party had been, without the knowledge of the other, a prostitute, a decree of annulment may be entered upon proof, on complaint of the party aggrieved. (c) No annulment for a marriage alleged to be void or voidable under subsection (b) of §§ 20-45.1, subsection (b) of this section or by virtue of fraud or duress shall be decreed if it appears that the party applying for such annulment has cohabited with the other after knowledge of the facts giving rise to what otherwise would have been grounds for annulment; and, in no event shall any such decree be entered if the parties had been married for a period of two years prior to the institution of such suit for annulment. (d) A party who, at the time of such marriage as is mentioned in §§ 20-48 or §§ 20-49, was capable of consenting with a party not so capable, shall not be permitted to institute a suit for the purpose of annulling such marriage.

Is there such a thing as legal separation? If so, how does it work?

In Virginia, there is no recognized legal status entitled “legal separation” . A “bed and board decree” (a mensa) of divorce, however, will create what many people perceive to be “legal separation”

Do parents of minor children have to go through parent training? If so, how much does it cost, and how long does it take?

Any such training is entirely optional.

Other issues in Virginia:

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