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Divorce and Custody FAQs

This page provides answers to common questions about matters of divorce and child custody. We have provided answers to divorce and custody FAQ’s. For questions specific to military divorce, please visit the Military Divorce FAQ page. The following information is not provided to answer all divorce and family law inquiries. Call or contact Montagna Klein Camden today to speak to a Virginia divorce attorney.

What grounds do I need for divorce?

Pursuant to § 20-91 of the Code of Virginia, 1950, as amended:

A. A divorce from the bond of matrimony may be decreed:

(1) For adultery; or for sodomy or buggery committed outside the marriage;

(2) Repealed.

(3) Where either of the parties subsequent to the marriage has been convicted of a felony, sentenced to confinement for more than one year and confined for such felony subsequent to such conviction, and cohabitation has not been resumed after knowledge of such confinement (in which case no pardon granted to the party so sentenced shall restore such party to his or her conjugal rights);

(4), (5) Repealed.

(6) Where either party has been guilty of cruelty, caused reasonable apprehension of bodily hurt, or willfully deserted or abandoned the other, such divorce may be decreed to the innocent party after a period of one year from the date of such act; or

(7), (8) Repealed.

(9)(a) On the application of either party if and when the husband and wife have lived separate and apart without any cohabitation and without interruption for one year. In any case where the parties have entered into a separation agreement and there are no minor children either born of the parties, born of either party and adopted by the other or adopted by both parties, a divorce may be decreed on application if and when the husband and wife have lived separately and apart without cohabitation and without interruption for six months. A plea of res adjudicata or of recrimination with respect to any other provision of this section shall not be a bar to either party obtaining a divorce on this ground; nor shall it be a bar that either party has been adjudged insane, either before or after such separation has commenced, but at the expiration of one year or six months, whichever is applicable, from the commencement of such separation, the grounds for divorce shall be deemed to be complete, and the committee of the insane defendant, if there be one, shall be made a party to the cause, or if there be no committee, then the court shall appoint a guardian ad litem to represent the insane defendant.

(b) This subdivision (9) shall apply whether the separation commenced prior to its enactment or shall commence thereafter. Where otherwise valid, any decree of divorce hereinbefore entered by any court having equity jurisdiction pursuant to this subdivision (9), not appealed to the Supreme Court of Virginia, is hereby declared valid according to the terms of said decree notwithstanding the insanity of a party thereto.

(c) A decree of divorce granted pursuant to this subdivision (9) shall in no way lessen any obligation any party may otherwise have to support the spouse unless such party shall prove that there exists in the favor of such party some other ground of divorce under this section or § 20-95.

B. A decree of divorce shall include each party’s social security number, or other control number issued by the Department of Motor Vehicles pursuant to § 46.2-342.

Is a legal separation a prerequisite for divorce in Virginia?

No.  As long as you and your spouse meet one of the grounds for divorce as laid out here and you are not seeking a no-fault divorce, you are not required to live separately before filing.

What is a “no-fault” divorce?

A no-fault divorce from the bond of matrimony requires the husband and wife to continuously live separate and apart with no cohabitation for either one year (when minor children are involved) or six months (when no children are involved).

Do I have a right to child support and/or spousal support if I file for a no-fault divorce?

Possibly. Call or contact the divorce attorneys at Montagna Klein Camden to discuss your options.

How long does a divorce take in Virginia?

The length of divorce proceedings varies greatly between cases and types of divorce.

How can I protect my custody and visitation rights?

In addition to staying actively involved in your child’s life and remaining in the home until the creation of a parenting plan, act early in contacting a knowledgeable child custody attorney like the ones at Montagna Klein Camden.  Don’t wait to seek out legal advice or your delay may be used against you in court.

How is custody determined by the court?

In Virginia, the court makes a decision about custodial arrangement according to what they feel is in the best interest of the child/children involved. Virginia Code Section 20-124.2(B) states:

“ In determining custody, the court shall give primary consideration to the best interests of the child. The court shall assure minor children of frequent and continuing contact with both parents, when appropriate, and encourage parents to share in the responsibilities of rearing their children. As between the parents, there shall be no presumption or inference of law in favor of either. The court shall give due regard to the primacy of the parent-child relationship but may upon a showing by clear and convincing evidence that the best interest of the child would be served thereby award custody or visitation to any other person with a legitimate interest. The court may award joint custody or sole custody.”

What is the difference between sole custody and joint custody?

Sole custody is defined under Virginia Code Section 20-124.1 as an arrangement whereby “one person retains responsibility for the care and control of a child and has primary authority to make decisions concerning the child.”

Virginia Code Section 20-124.1 says:

“Joint custody” means (i) joint legal custody where both parents retain joint responsibility for the care and control of the child and joint authority to make decisions concerning the child even though the child’s primary residence may be with only one parent, (ii) joint physical custody where both parents share physical and custodial care of the child or (iii) any combination of joint legal and joint physical custody which the court deems to be in the best interest of the child.

You may also be interested in:

Divorce 

Military Divorce

Child Custody 

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