Are you considering a legal separation in Virginia? There are some misconceptions about the legal definition and consequences of separation, so it’s understandable that people considering this step may have questions and concerns to discuss with Virginia Beach divorce attorneys.
Separation is the term used for the period of time that a couple lives apart prior to divorce. In most cases, in Virginia, a couple wanting to get a divorce needs to live apart for six months to one year. There is no “legal separation,” simply the parties’ mutual decision to reside in separate homes. Separation was designed to help couples be prepared to make an informed decision about ending their marriage. Divorce is a big step. Two people need time to be sure they’re making the right decision, and to prepare themselves for a future in which they are no longer part of a couple.
Before initiating the separation period, the parties will have to work out between themselves things like living arrangements, the use of the family vehicle(s), as well as other practical issues. This is also a good time to negotiate a separation agreement. A separation agreement is a contract that lays out the details of the couple’s decisions regarding child custody, child support, spousal support, and division of property. The parties can come to these decisions on their own or through the help of a mediator. Not all separated couples will be amicable enough to work out these details, but it’s usually better in the long run to make the divorce as friendly as possible rather than having a long court room fight.
Not all separated couples need to live apart; under certain circumstances, a judge may allow something called in-house separation. An in-house separation involves the parties living under the same roof, but not co-habiting in the same way as a married couple. They don’t have sexual relations, share expenses, or present themselves as a couple to friends and family. This arrangement can be approved if living apart isn’t practical for financial or family reasons. Judges don’t look favorably on in-house separation because it’s difficult to prove that it is a valid separation. There are strict rules for an in-house separation, so even if it is permitted, it’s not an easy undertaking.
Regardless of what type of separation a couple chooses, there’s always the chance that they may decide to reunite. It’s important to speak with your Virginia divorce attorney about the consequences of attempting to reconcile with your estranged spouse. Should your attempt at reconciliation fail and you decide you want to divorce after all, the “separation clock” will be reset back to day one.
Contact a Virginia Divorce Attorney for Help
The decision to file for divorce usually comes at the end of a long and painful journey. In addition to the emotional turmoil involved, there’s also a lot of fear and uncertainty about what the future holds. Concerns about children, mortgages, and even paying the bills or buying groceries can easily become overwhelming.
A Virginia divorce attorney at Hofheimer Family Law Firm can examine the specifics of your case to help you decide how much support to ask for, what child custody arrangement will work best for you and your children, and how to fairly divide your marital assets. You can learn more by requesting one of our free divorce guides for women or reserving your seat at our monthly divorce seminar – 757-425-5200.