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What does it mean to be “separated” in Virginia?

On Behalf of | May 15, 2024 | Divorce

As most individuals in Virginia who are contemplating divorce, you’ve probably done a bit of internet research and found out that in Virginia you have to be “legally separated” before you file for divorce; six months if you don’t have children and have a written separation or twelve months if you have children and/or have not come to an agreement.

“Do I have to move out to be separated?”

Not at all, in fact many people initiate the divorce process while still living together. Generally, the courts define separation as “no longer living together as a marital unit.”

We personally explain it as living together as roommates. When you and your spouse are no longer sharing a bed, no longer going out together, no longer sharing meals etc. you can make a valid claim that you and your spouse have separated.

“But if we’re living together, how do I prove we’re separated?”

Testimony is completely valid evidence in court and often matters can be “proved” by one party simply testifying to the effect, in fact a substantial portion of “proof” in court is testimony!

In a heated contested divorce, your spouse may be vindicative and try to claim that you haven’t been separated, however in the grand scheme of things the exact date of separation is small comparatively. And by the time the divorce gets to trial, it’s generally already been a year since the initial filing of the divorce anyway.

And that’s only if the divorce is “contested” if the divorce is uncontested there won’t be a heated trial. There will be just a bit of paperwork and most attorneys, including those at Bristle Schulze, will allow you to submit affidavits in lieu of actual testimony. The affidavits will simply be a stating, albeit under oath, that you and your spouse “have been living separate and apart” for the necessary period of time.

That’s it! You won’t have to “swear to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth” and have to show the court photos of two different beds to “prove” you’ve been separated. Just a signature and a notary stamp away.


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