How Do You Separate a Marriage in Virginia?

How Do You Separate a Marriage in Virginia?


My name is Stephen Jones and I’m an Associate Attorney here at Holcomb Law. A common question we are asked by our clients is, how do I file for a legal separation in Virginia? The answer is often surprising to our clients because there is no legal separation of Virginia, at least nothing formal that you file with the court. So if there is nothing filed with the court, how do you separate from your spouse?

In Virginia, only one party has to decide that they want to separate from the other. Typically stating to them that you no longer want to be married, is enough to officially start the clock on this separation period.

Another question we often get is can we be separated and still live in the same house? The answer to that question is yes. While the code of Virginia says the parties must live separate and apart for a certain period of time, that does not mean that both parties have to live in two physically different locations. While that may work for some couples, it does not work for everyone.

If you are going to remain separated in the same home, it should be clear to anyone who knows you, that you no longer act as a married couple within that home. All sexual activities should cease. You should consider sleeping in separate bedrooms. Stop doing the other’s laundry or cooking for them. Steps like the show and intend to be seen as living separate lives. Essentially, you and your spouse become roommates.

However, certain responsibilities should be maintained. Continue to be responsible for your share of the marital bills, like utilities and the mortgage. Until you and your spouse have had an opportunity to discuss how to wind up the joint aspects of your marriage, you have to maintain some of your marital responsibilities, even if you have decided that you want to separate and proceed with a divorce.

Deciding to separate from your spouse is the first step in the divorce process. If you have decided you are ready to start the divorce process, or you have some questions, I encourage you to contact Holcomb Law today and schedule your no hassle legal strategy meeting with one of our experienced family law attorneys.