The separation process directly affects your ability to legally separate and divorce, so it’s important to make thoughtful plans about the process. If you are currently in a situation where you could not maintain a different living space during the separation process from your spouse, here are some of the potential issues you should know about, primarily Virginia state requirements.
In the state of Virginia, couples can file for a no-fault divorce after six months of separation without cohabitation and without interruption if you do not have any minor children and you and your spouse can agree upon a property settlement agreement. However, if there are minor children involved or you cannot reach a property settlement agreement, the separation period is required to be twice that.
In a past court ruling in 2002, the Virginia Court of Appeals ruled that spouses can technically live separate without cohabitation underneath the same roof. If you and your spouse can maintain separate lives, without cohabitation, during the separation process, it can count towards the necessary 6 or 12-month period.
Living Under the Same Roof During the Separation Process
There are several ways to ensure that your separation stands up in court if you are living under the same roof:
- Make sure that you and your spouse agree to end the marriage. At least one party must intend to end the marriage for the duration of the separation process (and obviously afterward as well).
- You and your spouse must sleep in separate bedrooms, store all clothing and personal belongings in separate spaces, and use separate bathrooms if possible.
- Both you and your spouse should stop acting like a couple would – which means basic things like not wearing your wedding rings and also more subtle things like attending family events or going out to dinner together.
- One witness must visit your home on a regular basis (at least once a week as a rule of thumb, if you want to have the strongest possible case) and be willing to testify and confirm that you and your spouse are living separately during the separation process.
- Whenever possible, stop doing the grocery shopping, cleaning, cooking, or household chores on behalf of your spouse.
- Do not give gifts to each other for holidays, birthdays, or anniversaries.
- Establish and use separate bank accounts.
Family Law Assistance from The Carlberg Law Firm
The Carlberg Law Firm has been guiding clients through all of life’s difficult situations since 1970. We have a wealth of experience in family law, whether you are seeking premarital agreements, working through your will, or seeking a divorce. We serve all of our clients with dignity, dedication, and determination. To hear more about us and what we do, contact us online or give us a call at (703) 549-5551. For more legal tips and to see what we are up to, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.