Living Separate or Together During a Divorce: What You Need to Know
The concept of living with your spouse during the divorce process is something that used to be extremely rare but has become more common in recent years. Many spouses simply cannot afford the cost of two separate residences until a final division of assets and determination of spousal support is made. Nevertheless, the law in Virginia generally requires that spouses live separate and apart from each other for over one year before they are eligible to get divorced. While it may be uncomfortable, it is possible for spouses to do so in the same house.
To be considered “separated” under Virginia law, spouses must physically separate and at least one of the spouses must intend that the separation be permanent. For spouses to be separated and live in the same house, it must be clear that they are no longer living together as a married couple. There are no hard and fast rules as to what that entails, but things courts have looked at include whether the spouses took up residence in separate bedrooms (this is a must), whether they took their meals together or attended social functions as a couple, and how the spouses hold themselves out to the public. At a minimum, the spouses must be able to have independent witnesses who can testify that they know the parties are separated and have been to the home to see that they live in separate bedrooms.
If you are considering a separation in which you continue to live with your spouse or if you are unsure whether you are currently separated from the spouse you live with, you should consult with a respected, trusted and experienced family law attorney. The family law attorneys at Mahoney & Richmond, PLLC have represented numerous individuals in these circumstances and can help you make sure that your separation will stand up in court.