Are there benefits to an at-Fault Divorce in Virginia?

Deciding to file for a divorce is difficult enough already, but you’ll soon find you have a second decision to make: whether you opt for a no-fault or an at-fault divorce. Both options are possible in Virginia, depending on your circumstances.

Whether your ex-spouse committed adultery or something even worse, there are pros and cons to filing a divorce based on fault. Here’s an outline of what those are to help you make the right decision.

File for Divorce Immediately

Getting divorced isn’t as simple as clicking a button. It’s a time-consuming process — there’s a waiting period before you can even file for divorce, you’ll need lots of investigation and documentation, and submitting your papers may be complicated when motions are added. Only after all this can you proceed to your hearing or final agreement.

In Virginia, you must be separated from your spouse for at least one year (if you have minor children or don’t have a signed separation agreement) before filing your papers, but you can skip the statutory waiting period if you opt for an at-fault divorce. However, the overall process may take much longer since guilt must be proven and financial issues investigated and resolved, especially if experts are desired or needed.

So, filing early may not necessarily help you to move on any faster. Plus, you can always file for child support and temporary spousal support while waiting for the separation period to expire.

Increase the Chances of Better Terms

When you file for a fault-based divorce, you may increase your chances of getting the terms you want and need, including higher spousal support and favorable property division. In fact, Virginia law states that the court, in determining whether to award support and maintenance for a spouse, shall consider the circumstances and factors which contributed to the dissolution of the marriage. Adultery or other fault ground is just one factor taken into consideration here.

Yet better terms are no guarantee — the court will also consider factors like the duration of the marriage and whether the person filing is also guilty of the same or another fault ground.

A Sense of Justice

If you’ve suffered at the hands of a partner who consistently denied their bad behavior to you and those around them, you might get the satisfaction of proving finally proving that you were right.

Since the process involves showing evidence of wrongdoing, it offers a way of exposing your partner. However, beware of filing for divorce purely based on spite — don’t underestimate the mental toll the process can take on you, which may outweigh the satisfaction.

You will have to ask yourself whether the process is worth the additional time, stress, and expense.

Agreement Isn’t a Requirement

While an agreement isn’t a requirement to filing for a contested divorce, agreements on the ultimate outcome can often be negotiated. This results in much less time, stress, and expense since the parties can focus on where they’d like to end up and not what happened in the past.

Consider Mediation

Due to the emotional difficulty of filing for an at-fault divorce,  you might want to consider mediation. This gives you greater control and flexibility while guaranteeing confidentiality for you and your spouse, therefore saving everyone time, stress, and money.

If you’re interested in learning more, Donita King is an experienced lawyer-mediator who can assist you with divorce mediation. To find out more about how she can help you, contact her law offices today.

Donita King

Ms. King is a member of the Virginia, Pennsylvania, and D.C. State Bars. She also serves as a University of Richmond School of Law Adjunct Professor of Mediation. She previously served on the Virginia Bar Association Joint ADR Council (2015 Chair), and served for several years on the Governor of Virginia’s Interagency Dispute Resolution Council. Ms. King currently serves as a board member of the Virginia State Bar Disciplinary Board by appointment of the Virginia Supreme Court and has been active with the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Hispanic Women in Business as well. Se habla espanol.

Related Posts

Child Custody & International Travel — What Are Your Rights?

Child Custody & International Travel — What Are Your Rights?

Co-parenting after a divorce or separation is tough at the best of times, but when your ex-partner wants to involve your child in situations you don’t feel comfortable with — like international travel — things become even more complex. You might feel helpless, but there’s a good chance you can exercise your rights to have…
Read More
Navigating Custody and Relocation Under Virginia Law

Navigating Custody & Relocation Under Virginia Law

As a parent, few things are more important than doing whatever it takes to give your child the best chance in life. Sometimes, that means moving to a different state. But how does that work if you’re planning to relocate and your co-parent doesn’t agree? Or, on the other side of the fence, how will…
Read More
A couple opting for a low cost divorce with mediation

Valentine’s Day and Divorce

Every year, as February nears, shops fill with heart-shaped boxes of chocolate and teddy bears that say “I love you.” Having all that shoved in your face can be tough if you’re going through a rough period with your partner, and it might even serve as a wake-up call that it’s time to let go…
Read More

Schedule Your
Consultation Today!