Divorce Laws in Virginia

Posted on May 7, 2013 by Katie Carter

If you want to get divorced, but you don’t know how the divorce laws in Virginia work, you’re going to be up a creek without a paddle. Learn about the law here!

Divorce law is extremely state specific. Each state has its own laws about how marital property is divided, how custody is handled, and what amount of support is appropriate under the circumstances, so it’s a good idea to know what the divorce laws in Virginia say before you get started.

How Property is Divided in Virginia

We use a system called “equitable distribution.” Under this system, the judge can take the negative and positive monetary and nonmonetary contributions of each party into consideration when determining how property will be divided. Translation: If either of you have done something really, really good for the marriage (or, on the other hand, really, really bad), you could be rewarded (or penalized) for this behavior. Monetary contributions refer to what you’ve done professionally, and nonmonetary contributions deal with the things that you’ve contributed to the marriage without being paid (for example, helping the kids with homework, making dinners, upkeep of the marital home, etc). Whether you’ve stayed at home or worked 70 hours a week, your contributions will count.

Child Custody

Child custody in Virginia is determined based on the Best Interest of the Child factors, which can be found in the Virginia Code. The Virginia code also provides for two different kinds of custody: physical, and legal. Legal custody refers to the right to make three kinds of decisions on behalf of the child: non-emergency medical care, educational, and religious upbringing. Usually, legal custody is held jointly. Physical custody, on the other hand, refers to where the child spends most of his or her time. Physical custody can be primary, shared, or split. In a primary physical custody situation, the non-custodial parent has less than ninety days with the child in the course of a year. In a shared physical custody situation, the non-custodial parent has more than ninety days with the child in a year. (This affects the amount of child support!) And, in a split custody situation, one parent takes one child and the other parent takes another. This isn’t preferred by judges, but it happens sometimes by agreement of the parties.


Child and spousal support are also determined by law. Child support is established by a very specific formula.

The amount and duration of spousal support is determined by an analysis of the factors.

As you can tell, divorce laws in Virginia mandate that certain things happen in a divorce. Before you go too far, you should make sure that you know what you’re entitled to under the law.