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The grounds for divorce in Virginia - Part I

The end of a marriage can be painful for many people. Emotions may go on a roller-coaster ride at the prospect of a divorce, yet the number of couples breaking off their matrimonial vows continues to be an issue that is addressed in Virginia courts.

In Virginia, spouses can file for divorce on two grounds: divorce from bed and board and divorce from the matrimonial bond. In the first instance, spouses can be legally separated, but cannot re-marry anyone else. On the other hand, divorce from the matrimonial bond indicates a complete break, and couples who are involved with someone else can re-marry once the court grants the divorce decree.

After a year of legal separation, a person may ask the court to grant a divorce on the grounds of bed and board. However, according to Virginia law, there must be sufficient grounds for a divorce. Abandonment or willful desertion is sufficient for a couple to ask for an end to their marriage. A mutually agreed-upon separation will not be considered grounds for divorce.

Also, if one spouse is forced to leave the other because of cruel treatment, that person will not be considered guilty of desertion. In fact, that person may be granted a divorce on the grounds of cruelty.

If there are grounds for desertion, a divorce may be filed in a court of law. If the desertion continues for more than a year, the parties may request that the bed and board divorce be converted to a permanent one. A person may also file for divorce on the grounds of cruelty. If living together under the same roof makes it unsafe for one spouse, that person may also file for divorce.

Source: Virginia State Bar, "Divorce in Virginia," Accessed on Nov. 20, 2014

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