Family Law FAQ
What is meant by grounds for divorce?
A ‘ground’ for divorce is a ‘reason’ for divorce. It’s a set of judicially recognized reasons for divorce that exist in Virginia.
What are the recognized grounds for divorce in Virginia?
The recognized grounds for divorce in Virginia are the following:
- For adultery; or for sodomy or buggery committed outside the marriage;
- Conviction of a felony and sentence to confinement for more than one year;
- Where either party has been guilty of cruelty, caused reasonable apprehension of bodily hurt, or willfully deserted or abandoned the other.
However, Virginia law allows for a ‘no-fault divorce’. If the parties have entered into a separation agreement, there are no children (born or adopted) of the marriage and both parties have lived separate and apart without cohabitation for an uninterrupted period of six (6) months. If the parties have children, they must have lived separate and apart without cohabitation for an uninterrupted period of one (1) year.
What court/county will my case be held at?
Venue refers to which type of court and in what locality the case is filed. The proper venue for a suit for divorce is the county or city in which the parties last cohabitated or at the option of the plaintiff, in the county or city in which the defendant resides (if residing in Virginia).
What is the title of the document initiating the action for divorce? The order granting the divorce?
The title of the document initiating the divorce proceeding is a Complaint for Divorce, while the title of the order granting the divorce is referred to as the Decree of Divorce.
On what basis does the court decide how marital property is divided?
Virginia is an equitable distribution state. This means that the division of property and debts between the divorcing parties should be fair and equitable, but not necessarily equal. The court has wide discretion in equitably distributing property. It is extremely important to hire an attorney familiar with the statutes and cases related to equitable distribution so that you are properly informed and protected.
Is the separate property of one spouse subject to being divided up?
The question here is whether property “belonging to” one of the parties should be included in the marital estate for purposes of an equitable division. Generally, separate property acquired before the marriage or by gift or inheritance during the marriage may be excluded from the marital estate if neither the property nor its income has been used for the common benefit of the parties during their marriage. Again, it is wise to hire an experienced attorney to insure that property which is separate property is not classified as marital property in error by the Court.
What does the term spousal support or alimony mean and what factors will the court consider when determining how much spousal support to award to a party?
Spousal support (sometimes called alimony) is money paid by one spouse to the other. 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.
What is child custody and visitation?
Child custody refers to which parent will have legal custody of the child (i.e. with whom the child will live). Visitation is the topic of the non-custodial parent’s ability to visit/spend time with the child.
What is child support?
Child support is money paid by the non-custodial parent to the custodial parent in order to meet the needs of the child.