There are two types of of divorce in Virginia.  One type is divorce from bed and board (a mensa et thoro).  The other is a divorce from the bonds of matrimony (a vinculo matrimonii). Although all issues like spousal support, custody and child support, and equitable distribution of property can be resolved from a divorce from bed and board, you cannot remarry unless you obtain a divorce from the bonds of matrimony.

WHO CAN FILE FOR A DIVORCE IN VIRGINIA? You or your spouse must be a resident and bonafide domiciliary in Virginia for at least six months before the divorce is filed.

A divorce action can be filed in any Circuit Court in Virginia, but is usually filed in the county or city in which you and your spouse last lived together.

WHEN CAN YOU FILE FOR A DIVORCE IN VIRGINIA? This depends on if you are filing on “fault” or “no fault” grounds.  If you are filing on no fault grounds you can file for divorce after you have been separated for six months provided you don’t have minor children and you have a signed settlement agreement.  If you have minor children, you will have to wait until you have been separated for one year regardless of if you have a signed settlement agreement or not.

If you file on fault grounds, you may file immediately in cases of adultery or if your spouse is convicted of a felony and sentenced to more than one year in prison.

The other fault grounds of cruelty, desertion or constructive desertion still require a waiting period of one year unless you seek a divorce a mensa et thoro.   If you choose to do this so that you may file before the year, then you can ask the court to grant you the divorce a vinculo matrimonii once the year has passed.

WHAT IS CONSIDERED MARITAL VERSUS SEPARATE PROPERTY? At a basic level, any assets or debts acquired from the date of marriage to the date of separation regardless of how they are titled are considered marital assets or debts.  Anything acquired before or after the separation would be considered separate property unless transmuted into marital property.

WHAT ARE THE BASIC STEPS FOR FILING FOR DIVORCE? The Plaintiff will file for the Complaint for divorce when he/she has met the statutory requirements for doing so.  Then, the Complaint needs be served on the Defendant unless the Defendant signs an Acceptance and/or Waiver of Service.   If the Defendant did not sign a waiver of service, the Defendant will usually file an Answer with the court.  If the parties have not yet signed a Property Settlement Agreement, the court can set the case for trial to determine all the issues arising out of the case.  the trial dates may not be for many months after the initial setting.  However, if a Property Settlement Agreement has been signed, the Final Order of Divorce and affidavits (from the Plaintiff and a corroborating witness) can be submitted to the Court for entry.   For more information read about how to file for divorce in Virginia on our blog.

HOW MUCH DOES A DIVORCE COST IN VIRGINIA? It is difficult to predict how much a divorce will cost you.  The costs vary widely depending on if you are able to settle your case, go to mediation, or have to go to trial.  It is always going to be less costly to settle your case amicably when you can rather than spend the time, stress, and expense going to trial.


At NOVA Legal Professionals, our Virginia divorce attorneys located in Fairfax and Manassas have extensive experience presenting creative solutions to settle your case as quickly and as cost-efficient as possible. We will help you determine how and when to file.  We will help you figure out the pros and cons with the approach that you seek to take. We will come up with a strategy that best fits your goals with how to move forward when you are ready. Read more about how we have helped our clients here.

If you want to speak with one of our attorneys to discuss your case, reach out to us at either of our offices in Manassas, Prince William County and Fairfax, Fairfax County locations to schedule.