Pursuing a Fault-Based Divorce in Virginia: A Comprehensive Guide (2024)

In the realm of divorce proceedings in Virginia, couples are presented with the option to pursue either a "fault" or a "no-fault" divorce. When considering a fault-based divorce, it becomes imperative to understand the intricacies and advantages associated with this legal route.

Understanding Fault-Based Divorce in Virginia

Grounds for Fault-Based Divorce

Virginia law delineates specific grounds for a fault-based divorce, including:

  1. Adultery: Concrete evidence is crucial, requiring strict, satisfactory, and conclusive proof.

  2. Abandonment, Desertion, or Neglect: Proving intent to desert the spouse, with exceptions for consent or justified departure due to abuse or fear of harm.

  3. Cruelty: Focused on instances where a spouse fears bodily harm and feels unsafe in the home.

  4. Conviction of a Felony: Applicable only if the convicted spouse is currently serving time.

The Burden of Proof

For adultery, evidence extends beyond suspicion, necessitating tangible proof such as witness testimony, private investigator findings, or documented communication.

Advantages of Pursuing a Fault-Based Divorce in Virginia

No Waiting Period

Unlike no-fault divorces that mandate a waiting period, fault-based divorces allow for immediate filing, eliminating the need for a prolonged separation.

Preference in Child Custody

Judges may view the party at fault less favorably in custody disputes, potentially impacting the outcome in favor of the other parent.

Spousal Support Considerations

While fault is not the primary factor, it is a statutory consideration in determining spousal support amounts, per Virginia Code §20-107.1(E).

Impact on Division of Marital Assets

Fault can influence the distribution of marital assets, with judges considering the role of each party in the dissolution of the marriage.

Disadvantages of Pursuing a Fault-Based Divorce

Potential Legal Battle

Accusations in a fault-based divorce can lead to a legal battle, requiring time and resources to prove the allegations in court.

The "Blame Game"

Using fault as a weapon in divorce proceedings may escalate tensions and result in a protracted legal battle, potentially backfiring on the accuser.


Opting for a fault-based divorce in Virginia demands a meticulous approach. Whether alleging adultery, abandonment, cruelty, or a felony conviction, a robust case supported by compelling evidence is crucial. The advantages, including expedited proceedings and potential preferences in custody and support decisions, must be weighed against the disadvantages, such as legal battles and heightened conflict.

In conclusion, the decision to pursue a fault-based divorce requires careful consideration of the unique circ*mstances. Seeking guidance from an experienced attorney is pivotal in assessing the strength of the case and navigating the complexities of the legal process.

For more detailed insights into pursuing a fault-based divorce in Virginia, consult with our experienced legal team at [Your Law Firm Name].

Pursuing a Fault-Based Divorce in Virginia: A Comprehensive Guide (2024)


What are the grounds for at fault divorce in Virginia? ›

Fault-Based Divorce in Virginia

That their partner had committed adultery, That their partner was cruel (and created fear of harm), That their partner deserted or abandoned them or their family, or. That their partner had a felony conviction resulting in a year or more of prison time.

Which of the following are defenses to fault grounds of divorce? ›

However, the most commonly recognized divorce defenses are: connivance, condonation, recrimination, provocation, and collusion.

Does cheating affect divorce settlement in Virginia? ›

It is only on the issue of spousal support that adultery usually has a tremendous impact. Property Distribution. The court is allowed (and in fact directed) to take one party's adultery into account when deciding how to divide the marital estate—however, in most cases the adultery won't have much of an impact here.

What is the fastest way to get a divorce in Virginia? ›

An uncontested divorce is the fastest and easiest way to get a divorce in Virginia. The grounds for an uncontested divorce are that the parties have lived separate and apart for six (6) months, or one (1) year.

Is sexless marriage grounds for divorce in Virginia? ›

Yes, a lack of sexual intimacy can be grounds for divorce in Virginia. Under Virginia law, wilful and constant refusal to engage in sexual intercourse without cause or excuse can be considered a fault ground for divorce.

Can a spouse deny a divorce in Virginia? ›

If you want a divorce in Virginia, your spouse cannot stop you from obtaining one. However, he can make the process more difficult.

What is the provocation defense in divorce? ›

"Provocation" occurs when one spouse encourages or prompts the other spouse to do a bad act. For example, if a husband seeks a divorce on the grounds that his wife abandoned him, the wife might defend against the divorce by claiming that the husband acted in a way that provoked the abandonment.

What is the most common ground for a no fault divorce? ›

Although the facts of a particular case may justify obtaining a divorce on grounds other than irretrievable breakdown, irretrievable breakdown has become the most frequently used grounds for obtaining a divorce.

What is the most commonly stated grounds for divorce? ›

Top 13 Signs a Marriage is at Risk of Divorce
1Lack of showing an interest in one another48%
2Poor conflict resolution47%
3Avoiding each other45%
4Lack of respect38%
5Increased criticism to or from my partner38%
8 more rows
Aug 15, 2023

Can text messages prove adultery in Virginia? ›

Text messages, emails, phone calls, credit/debit card uses, and letters can all be used to support – but not prove – the affair. The phrasing of the words, however, is crucial. Emails arranging romantic dinners aren't always indicative of adultery. As the basis of your case, you'll need something more substantial.

Who has to leave the house in a divorce in Virginia? ›

You can also petition the court to request that you get exclusive use and possession of the marital residence, and this is commonly done in pendente lite hearings before the judge. However, generally, judges do not kick out one spouse over the other spouse unless there's good cause.

Is dating while separated adultery in Virginia? ›

In Virginia, even post-separation relationships can be considered adultery.

Can you get a divorce without the other person signing in Virginia? ›

Two Types of Divorce in Virginia

Whether it is a fault or no-fault divorce, you do not need your spouse's signature or verbal agreement to file. Once you file the complaint and the divorce is opened with the court, your spouse will be served with the complaint and will have 21 days to respond.

How long does a divorce take if one party doesn t agree in Virginia? ›

And if you and your spouse aren't able to reach a settlement agreement at some point in the process (more on that below), going to trial will require even more time—usually considerably more than a year. Court backlogs can also make the entire process take longer.

Does it matter who files for divorce first in Virginia? ›

Does it matter who files for divorce first in Virginia? Almost never. It does not matter one bit to the outcome of a divorce, whether by settlement or by a court ruling, who is the plaintiff (initial filing spouse) and who is the defendant (initial receiving/responding spouse).

Does Virginia have fault based divorce? ›

There are two types of divorce in the state of Virginia. The first is a fault divorce, which occurs when one spouse accuses the other of improper behavior that might lead to a divorce. The other type of divorce is a no-fault divorce, which occurs when one spouse files for divorce due to their inability to get along.

Is Virginia an at fault state for divorce? ›

Virginia allows both no-fault and fault-based divorce.

What's your first name? To get a divorce in any state, you must have "legal grounds"—a specific reason or reasons—for why your marriage is ending.

What is for cause divorce in Virginia? ›

Grounds for Divorce in Virginia. In Virginia, the person filing for divorce needs to have “grounds” for divorce. The fault grounds authorized in Virginia include: adultery, felony, cruelty, and desertion. Alternatively, a spouse may file for “no-fault divorce” after separation.

What is the most common ground for a no-fault divorce? ›

Although the facts of a particular case may justify obtaining a divorce on grounds other than irretrievable breakdown, irretrievable breakdown has become the most frequently used grounds for obtaining a divorce.

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