The last question on the intake form that we use for divorce clients asks for the grounds of divorce. By far the most frequent response given is “irreconcilable differences.” It’s no surprise as it seems to be a favorite ground of the movie star crowd as we read about their divorces in the paper, on the internet or see on television. While this may be a ground for divorce in many states, it is not a ground in Virginia.
In Virginia we have fault grounds: adultery, desertion, cruelty etc., and we have no fault grounds. To obtain a no fault divorce in Virginia you and your spouse must live separate and apart continuously and without interruption for either a twelve month or six month period. If the parties have no minor children together and a written property settlement agreement the required separation period is six months, otherwise it is twelve months.
Another frequently asked question we get concerning no fault divorces is whether two people can live separate and apart inside the same house and meet the requirements for a no fault divorce. While it is technically possible, it is difficult to prove and may require that a third party live in the same residence with the couple who can corroborate that they have in fact been living separate and apart within the same house. If one spouse performs even one act for the other such as preparing a meal or cleaning a dish left by the other it may not be seen as living separate and apart. One local Circuit Court Judge has told me that if one spouse has a plant in the house that may have produced oxygen that the other breathed in he would not find that the parties had lived separate and apart and would therefore not grant the divorce.