Separation Agreements For Virginia Divorces

The laws surrounding divorce vary by state. When your family and friends offer you advice about the divorce process, be aware that what they are saying may not specifically apply if you live in different states. For example, if you have heard anything about legal separation, you can set it aside because it is not available in Virginia. 

However—and this part may be confusing based on what we just said about legal separation—to get a no-fault divorce, you and your spouse must live separately and apart for one year. If you don’t have minor children but have a separation agreement, you only need to live apart for six months before your divorce can be finalized. 

Why Should I Consider Having a Separation Agreement?

Because Virginia does not recognize a legal separation, there technically isn’t a form called a “separation agreement” either. Although this is a commonly used term, it is a legal document that outlines how your assets will be divided, your child custody arrangement, and how much money will go toward child and spousal support. 

There are several reasons why you should have a separation agreement. If you take away one thing from this blog, remember this: Before you move out of the marital home, get in touch with a family law attorney. Why? By leaving, you could be accused of spousal desertion. When two people agree to separate, and one person moves out, it is not spousal abandonment. That said, you should still protect yourself and have this in writing. 

Your separation agreement identifies the date the separation began and states the grounds for divorce. (By living separately for six months to a year, you are likely pursuing a no-fault divorce.) 

Taking Care of Things Early

Many things you will address in your separation agreement will need to be resolved before your divorce can be finalized. 

  • How will you divide your house?
  • How will your marital debts get handled?
  • Where will the children live? 
  • What will you use for a visitation schedule?
  • If you and your spouse have a disagreement regarding your children, how will you resolve it? 

By creating one, you are forming a solid foundation for the next chapter of your life. View the separation agreement as a contract you and your former spouse are legally obligated to follow. Regardless of how your newly formed relationship with your spouse evolves, you have a document that spells out your rights regarding the children, what you are obligated to pay (or receive) in terms of child and spousal support, and what your responsibilities are. For instance, where and when are pick up and drop off? When do you have to send child support payments? 

Speak with a Virginia Family Law Attorney 

We are proud to help people going through the challenges of a divorce. Allow the Law Offices of Robert Dawson to provide sound and reliable advice as you work through your divorce. Contact us to schedule your consultation today.

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