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Need a divorce lawyer?

Have questions about your Virginia divorce?

Want to know your next steps?

Talk to a lawyer 24/7 at DivorcePlus

Talk with a Virginia Lawyer

Professional Spotlight

Lisa Matthews graduated cum laude from George Mason Law School where she served as Articles Editor for George Mason Law Review.  During law school, Lisa interned for the Department of Justice

She worked in Northern Virginia as an attorney on a wide variety of cases including estate planning and probate, criminal defense, divorce, custody, civil litigation, appellate, and juvenile cases. 

Lisa is an adjunct professor at Antonin Scalia Law School at George Mason University – in the LLM program.

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Understanding Divorce in Virginia : A Simple Guide

Divorce can be a challenging and emotional process for anyone involved. If you’re considering or going through a divorce in Virginia, it’s essential to understand the state’s specific laws and procedures. This blog post aims to provide a clear, easy-to-understand overview of what to expect during a divorce in Virginia, helping you navigate this difficult time with greater ease.

Understanding Virginia’s Divorce Laws

Virginia recognizes both “fault” and “no-fault” divorces. A fault divorce is when one spouse alleges wrongdoing by the other, like adultery, cruelty, or desertion. On the other hand, a no-fault divorce is based on living apart for a specified period – usually one year, or six months if you have no minor children and have a separation agreement in place.

Residency Requirements

Before filing for divorce in Virginia, at least one spouse must have been a resident for a minimum of six months. This residency requirement ensures that the state has jurisdiction over your divorce case.

Grounds for Divorce

In Virginia, common grounds for a fault divorce include adultery, cruelty, and desertion or abandonment. Adultery is a significant ground because it can affect alimony and property division. It’s important to note that proving fault grounds can be complex and may require legal assistance.

Divorce Process

Filing for divorce in Virginia begins with submitting a Complaint for Divorce at your local circuit court. This document outlines your grounds for divorce and what you are seeking in terms of property division, alimony, child support, and custody.

Once the complaint is filed and served to your spouse, they have 21 days to respond. If they fail to respond, the court may grant a default judgment in your favor.

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Divorce in Virginia : Other Issues

Property Division

Virginia follows the “equitable distribution” principle, meaning the court divides marital property fairly, but not necessarily equally. Factors considered include each spouse’s contributions to the marriage, the duration of the marriage, and each party’s financial circumstances.

Alimony and Child Support

Alimony, also known as spousal support, may be awarded to either spouse based on need, ability to pay, and the standard of living during the marriage. Child support, on the other hand, is determined based on the state’s child support guidelines, considering both parents’ incomes and the needs of the children.

Child Custody

When it comes to child custody, Virginia courts prioritize the best interests of the child. This includes considering the child’s age, physical and emotional needs, the relationship with each parent, and each parent’s ability to meet those needs.


Divorce in Virginia involves understanding specific laws and procedures, which can be complex. It’s often beneficial to consult with a knowledgeable attorney to guide you through the process. Remember, every divorce is unique, and legal advice should be tailored to your specific circumstances.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Different people face different challenges, depending upon their individual circumstances. Common concerns when considering divorce include:

  • Money: “I am ready for divorce, but how can I afford a lawyer?”
  • Grief: “How can I move on when I’m not ready to let go?”
  • Expectations: “Why can’t I get everything I want out of this divorce?”
  • The future: “Where will I go from here?”

You can always start the divorce process without your spouse. However, there are certain aspects of divorce in which a spouse needs to be involved, such as hiring a mediator, parenting coordinator, co-parenting coach.

Online access and virtual consultations allow you to learn about the divorce process on your own time. Not everyone is ready to meet with a lawyer. Not everyone has the same schedule or availability. DivorcePlus puts you in control.

If you are curious about the process and want trustworthy information, we make that available to you for free. And if you are ready for the next step, our professional service providers are here and ready when you are.

We recommend that you start keeping a diary as soon as possible. A clear record and timeline of events can be very useful down the line. The more information, the better.

If you are happy with your divorce lawyer, stay with them. Our free resources address common divorce concerns so you won’t have to pay for as much time with your lawyer. We also provide a wide range of professional services if you’re looking for a little extra guidance.


During the divorce process, some people ask questions and then ignore answers they don’t like. Keep in mind, even when you don’t like an answer, there are always ways to work through the process.

Trust your lawyer to help get you where you want to be. The best pathway forward is to listen and learn how to work with the law.

Unlike other legal websites that charge monthly subscription fees for access to general information on all areas of law, DivorcePlus specializes in providing  free online legal and divorce educational resources without any cost to you. You only pay for professional divorce services when you need them.

An online divorce is exactly what it sounds like. During the covid-19 pandemic, most States and Courts implemented laws and procedures that permit individuals to file and obtain their divorce online! But that doesn’t help if you still have to meet with a legal professional in person. The DivorcePlus professional marketplace gives you the ability to locate an attorney in your State and find out if an online divorce is right for you.

Note: This information contained here is not legal advice and should not be relied upon a legal source; instead, all information, content, and materials available on this site are for general informational purposes only.  It’s important to keep in mind that legal statutes can be subject to amendments and interpretations. For the most current and detailed legal information, it’s advisable to consult the actual statutes or a legal professional.