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Can You Get a Legal Separation in Virginia While Living Together?

Every divorce is unique to the couple involved. Obtaining a no-fault divorce in Virginia, which the vast majority of divorces are, involves a mandatory 6-month period of living separate and apart for couples who have no shared children at home and a mandatory 1-year period for couples with shared children under the age of 18 at home. While living separate and apart typically means that one party moves out of the marital home, this isn’t always the case. If you are facing questions or concerns about legal separation, consult with an experienced Virginia divorce attorney today. 

Living a Separate Life

If you and your spouse are living separate lives within the same dwelling, you may consider yourselves to be living separate and apart, and there’s a chance that the court will agree with you. The less ambiguity involved, however, the stronger your argument will be. For instance, if you and your spouse mutually agree that the circumstances you find yourselves in amount to a legal separation, the court might go along with your estimation. If, on the other hand, your spouse contests the premise of separation (and you have no definitive way of corroborating his or her prior agreement to an in-house separation), you could be facing an uphill battle. 

In-Home Separation: The Guidelines

To clearly demonstrate that you and your divorcing spouse are living separate and apart in the same home (and, thus, that you meet the separation requirement for divorce), keep all of the following guidelines in mind:

  • Both you and your spouse should be aware that at least one of you intends to end the marriage (and maintains this intention throughout the separation). Stating your intention of ending your marriage by a specific date in writing is advised.
  • You should establish separate bank accounts.  
  • You and your spouse should cease having sex and should move into separate bedrooms (using separate bathrooms if possible).
  • You should tell your family and friends that you’ve separated and should stop holding yourselves out as a married couple – whether inside or outside your home. This includes removing your wedding rings.
  • At least one of you should have a corroborating witness who visits your home regularly and who is willing to bear witness to your separation under oath. 
  • You should both cease doing the kinds of things spouses do for one another, including grocery shopping, cooking, cleaning, giving gifts, and doing laundry.
  • You should also refrain from attending family functions and social events and/or from going on vacation together. 

The goal is to demonstrate that you are, for all intents and purposes, no longer living together as a married couple. 

Seek the Experienced Legal Counsel of a Dedicated Virginia Divorce Attorney

The accomplished Virginia divorce attorneys at Mahoney & Richmond, PLLC, are well acquainted with the complexities of Virginia’s divorce requirements and will help ensure that your legal separation efforts are upheld. We’re on your side, so please don’t hesitate to contact us for more information today.

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