In order to obtain a no-fault divorce in the Commonwealth of Virginia, you and your spouse are required, according to Virginia law, to “have lived separate and apart without any cohabitation and without interruption” for six months or one year, if you have children. However, if you are separated from your spouse but still need to live together for economic reasons, you may do so under certain conditions.
Keep reading to learn more about your and your spouse’s options for maintaining separate households while living in the same home.
What Is a Legal Separation?
In some states, couples may request a legal separation from the court. A legal separation entitles the spouses to the same rights as a divorce without actually divorcing. However, legal separation is not an option in Virginia. The only option for couples in Virginia who want to end their marriage is to file for divorce.
What If We Can’t Afford to Live Separately?
Many families in Virginia struggle to make ends meet. For many, moving into a new house or apartment without their spouse is simply not financially doable. This is why many Virginians who are going through a divorce choose to live separately while still under the same roof.
In order to obtain a “no-fault” divorce, parties may have to be separated for up to one year prior to filing for divorce. While there is no such thing as “legal separation” in Virginia, it’s still possible for parties to live separate and apart in the same home.
When the Virginia courts are determining whether spouses have been living separate and apart under the same roof, they look at a variety of factors, such as:
- Sleeping in separate bedrooms
- Having sexual relations
- Keeping separate living spaces within the home
- Financial factors as the reason for continuing to cohabitate
- Eating together, doing laundry together, etc.
- Sharing financial arrangements, such as checking accounts
- Attending parties and social functions together
- Gift-giving for holidays and special occasions
- Wearing wedding rings
How to Remain Separated While Living Together
If you are considering an in-house separation, you must establish a second household under a single roof. There are a number of factors a court considers when determining whether a separate household has been established. You and your spouse should take measures to separate the details of your lives so that it’s as if you were living with a roommate.
In order for the court to believe that you and your spouse are actually separated while living in the same home, you have to be clear and consistent. Don’t share a bedroom, have sexual relations, or wear a wedding band. Keep separate schedules and don’t attend social events together.
In addition, try to divide expenses, such as paying for groceries, whenever feasible. Maintain separate bank accounts. Don’t cook or clean or do laundry for one another. Refrain from giving gifts to each other or giving gifts jointly. Socializing in the home should be kept to a minimum, and you should attempt to have different schedules when spending time with your children.
It will also be important to have independent, third-party witnesses who can verify your separation within the home to the court at the divorce proceedings.
How a Virginia Beach Family Law Attorney Could Help
If you are attempting an in-home separation in Virginia, it’s important to talk with an experienced family law attorney. Separating from your spouse can be a difficult and highly emotional decision, and taking the necessary steps to create separate households can feel overwhelming. Our caring and supportive legal team will explain the steps you need to take and guide you through the entire process.
The Virginia Beach divorce lawyers at Invictus Law are ready to help you work toward establishing a date of separation and move your life forward. We will provide you with the legal advice you need during this turning point in your life. Call us now at 757-317-5125 or contact us online for a consultation.