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Virginia - Divorce Requirements
The following information is to provide a basic understanding of the various aspects of Virginia divorce.

Click here for more specific information regarding Virginia divorce laws.

Every effort has been made to assure that the information contained in these pages is accurate however, due to the ever changing nature of the law some material may be outdated or may no longer apply.

Residency Requirements 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
Where to File The county in which the plaintiff resides
The county in which the defendant resides.
The county in which both spouses lived together prior to separation.
The county in which the plaintiff resides if the defendant is a non-resident of Virginia
Grounds for Divorce A divorce from the bond of matrimony may be decreed:
  1. For adultery; or for sodomy or buggery committed outside the marriage
  2. 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)
  3. 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
  4. 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
Voluntary or required mediation No
Voluntary or recommended CounselingYes
Property Distribution The court, upon request of either party, shall determine the legal title as between the parties, and the ownership and value of all property, real or personal, tangible or intangible, of the parties and shall consider which of such property is separate property, which is marital property, and which is part separate and part marital property. The amount of any division or transfer of jointly owned marital property, and the amount of any monetary award, the apportionment of marital debts, and the method of payment shall be determined by the court after consideration of the following factors:
  • The contributions, monetary and nonmonetary, of each party to the well-being of the family
  • The contributions, monetary and nonmonetary, of each party in the acquisition and care and maintenance of such marital property of the parties
  • The duration of the marriage
  • The ages and physical and mental condition of the parties
  • The circumstances and factors which contributed to the dissolution of the marriage, specifically including any ground for divorce (as stated in #1, #2 or #3 above)
  • How and when specific items of such marital property were acquired
  • The debts and liabilities of each spouse, the basis for such debts and liabilities, and the property which may serve as security for such debts and liabilities
  • The liquid or nonliquid character of all marital property
  • The tax consequences to each party
  • The use or expenditure of marital property by either of the parties for a nonmarital separate purpose or the dissipation of such funds, when such was done in anticipation of divorce or separation or after the last separation of the parties
  • Such other factors as the court deems necessary or appropriate to consider in order to arrive at a fair and equitable monetary award
Child Custody Custody is awarded with the best interests of the child or children in mind. In determining best interests of a child for purposes of determining custody or visitation arrangements including any pendente lite orders the court shall consider the following:
  • The age and physical and mental condition of the child, giving due consideration to the child's changing developmental needs
  • The age and physical and mental condition of each parent
  • The relationship existing between each parent and each child, giving due consideration to the positive involvement with the child's life, the ability to accurately assess and meet the emotional, intellectual and physical needs of the child
  • The needs of the child, giving due consideration to other important relationships of the child, including but not limited to siblings, peers and extended family members
  • The role that each parent has played and will play in the future, in the upbringing and care of the child
  • The propensity of each parent to actively support the child's contact and relationship with the other parent, including whether a parent has unreasonably denied the other parent access to or visitation with the child
  • The relative willingness and demonstrated ability of each parent to maintain a close and continuing relationship with the child, and the ability of each parent to cooperate in and resolve disputes regarding matters affecting the child
  • The reasonable preference of the child, if the court deems the child to be of reasonable intelligence, understanding, age and experience to express such a preference
  • Any history of family abuse as that term is defined in § 16.1-228.
  • Such other factors as the court deems necessary and proper to the determination
Child Support there shall be a rebuttable presumption in any judicial or administrative proceeding for child support, including cases involving split custody or shared custody, that the amount of the award which would result from the application of the guidelines set out in § 20-108.2 is the correct amount of child support to be awarded.

In order to rebut the presumption, the court shall make written findings in the order, which findings may be incorporated by reference, that the application of such guidelines would be unjust or inappropriate in a particular case. The finding that rebuts the guidelines shall state the amount of support that would have been required under the guidelines, shall give a justification of why the order varies from the guidelines, and shall be determined by relevant evidence pertaining to the following factors affecting the obligation, the ability of each party to provide child support, and the best interests of the child:
  • Actual monetary support for other family members or former family members
  • Arrangements regarding custody of the children
  • Imputed income to a party who is voluntarily unemployed or voluntarily under-employed; provided that income may not be imputed to the custodial parent when a child is not in school, child care services are not available and the cost of such child care services are not included in the computation
  • Debts of either party arising during the marriage for the benefit of the child
  • Debts incurred for production of income
  • Direct payments ordered by the court for health care coverage, maintaining life insurance coverage pursuant to subsection D, education expenses, or other court-ordered direct payments for the benefit of the child and costs related to the provision of health care coverage
  • Extraordinary capital gains such as capital gains resulting from the sale of the marital abode
  • Age, physical and mental condition of the child or children, including unreimbursed medical or dental expenses, and child-care expenses
  • Independent financial resources, if any, of the child or children
  • Standard of living for the family established during the marriage
  • Earning capacity, obligations and needs, and financial resources of each parent
  • Education and training of the parties and the ability and opportunity of the parties to secure such education and training
  • Contributions, monetary and nonmonetary, of each party to the well-being of the family
  • Provisions made with regard to the marital property
  • Tax consequences to the parties regarding claims for dependent children and child care expenses
  • A written agreement between the parties which includes the amount of child support
  • A pendente lite decree, which includes the amount of child support, agreed to by both parties or by counsel for the parties
  • Such other factors, including tax consequences to each party, as are necessary to consider the equities for the parents and children
Spousal Support The court, in determining whether to award support and maintenance for a spouse, shall consider the circumstances and factors which contributed to the dissolution of the marriage, specifically including adultery and any other ground for divorce. In determining the nature, amount and duration of an award pursuant to this section, the court shall consider the following:
  • The obligations, needs and financial resources of the parties, including but not limited to income from all pension, profit sharing or retirement plans, of whatever nature
  • The standard of living established during the marriage
  • The duration of the marriage
  • The age and physical and mental condition of the parties and any special circumstances of the family
  • The extent to which the age, physical or mental condition or special circumstances of any child of the parties would make it appropriate that a party not seek employment outside of the home
  • The contributions, monetary and nonmonetary, of each party to the well-being of the family
  • The property interests of the parties, both real and personal, tangible and intangible
  • The provisions made with regard to the marital property under § 20-107.3
  • The earning capacity, including the skills, education and training of the parties and the present employment opportunities for persons possessing such earning capacity
  • The opportunity for, ability of, and the time and costs involved for a party to acquire the appropriate education, training and employment to obtain the skills needed to enhance his or her earning ability
  • The decisions regarding employment, career, economics, education and parenting arrangements made by the parties during the marriage and their effect on present and future earning potential, including the length of time one or both of the parties have been absent from the job market
  • The extent to which either party has contributed to the attainment of education, training, career position or profession of the other party
  • Such other factors, including the tax consequences to each party, as are necessary to consider the equities between the parties