What does it mean to be legally separated in Virginia?

One of the most misunderstood terms in divorce law in Virginia is "legally separated". I get calls every week from someone who tells me that they want to file for a legal separation.

Action & Intention

To be legally separated, the state of Virginia does not require any paperwork nor is there anything filed with a Court to be considered "legally separated".  All that is required is to be living separate and apart and that one of the spouses intends to end the marriage. That is it... an action (physically separating) and an intention (to end the marriage). Note that it does not require a mutual decision to end the marriage, only one spouse has to have the intention.

Proof of Separation Separation

The larger issue is proving that you are legally separated. When you file for a divorce, you will have to provide evidence that you were legally separated for the required time period. This is normally done with the testimony of a witness that you have been separated for the length of time, that the separation has been continuous and uninterrupted and that you stated your intention to end the marriage. Your witness must have been in a position to know that you and your spouse have been living separate and apart.

If you are currently separated from your spouse and you are ready to get a divorce, contact Hampton Roads Legal Services at 757-276-6555. We will set you up with a free phone consultation to discuss your situation. 

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Edrie Pfeiffer
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Edrie Pfeiffer, Bankruptcy & Divorce Attorney