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Establishing a Date of Separation for a Virginia Divorce

In this blog, we will discuss the process of how a date of separation in Virginia is determined.

Not all marriages have a happily ever after. Sadly, many marriages crumble for various reasons, among them infidelity, cruelty and abuse, or just separation. Establishing a date of separation for a Virginia divorce can be difficult, but it is also a significant step towards divorce if divorce is warranted. In this blog, we will discuss the process of how a date of separation in Virginia is determined.  

Why is a Date of Separation in Virginia Crucial?

As we said above, a date of separation is a significant first step towards a full divorce. However, why is the divorce necessary? What causes are there that warrant a separation or divorce? If there is no evidence of a fault of some sort (such as adultery, cruelty, or desertion) the separation date serves as the next turning point in the marriage. That turning point is represented by the day the couple can first file for divorce.

When seeking a date of separation in Virginia, there are some other related dates to keep in mind. A certain amount of time in the marriage must elapse before separation or divorce can be filed. Couples must wait one full year if they have minor children. However, if the couple does not have children, and has settled all of the issue in a marital settlement agreement, the parties can file for divorce based upon a six month separation.

What Effect Does It Have on Distribution of Property?

Understandably, both children and property will be subject to the effects of a separation.  Financial accounts (whether marital, separate, or hybrid), retirement accounts, and other property will fall under the purview of the date of separation. What does this mean? In general, any income, debt, or purchases after separation (especially if purchased with post-separation funds) are all considered separate property. The court will then often give a payor party more credit when post-separation spousal support payments are determined. The mandated duration of these payments is also shortened by this same decision.

What Factors Do Courts Consider for Separation?

The courts in Virginia consider numerous factors when separation is the legal question at hand. These factors influence the decision of whether or not a couple is in actuality separated or not:


  • Do they declare themselves to be separated in public? In this case, “in public” can be considered their friends and family.
  • When they attend any events or functions, do they do so together? However, if the functions include their children, then this factor is disregarded.
  • Do they still share meals or prepare meals for each other? This point and the next point speak to cohabitation, i.e. if the couple still lives together, they would share food and private areas.
  • Do they still share the same bathroom or closet? See the point above, which also speaks to cohabitation. These points, when taken together, could be a sign that the couple seeking separation or divorce still live together as husband and wife and are not yet ready or able to part ways.

Get Representation from The Carlberg Law Firm Today

Ready to tackle your legal issues head on? The Carlberg Law Firm provides all the experience and knowledge of a larger firm with the personal attention and commitment of a smaller firm. We represent individuals from both the District of Columbia and Virginia, and our attorneys have extensive experience in all aspects of family law.

Our offices are located in a beautiful 1875 historic building in Old Town Alexandria at 413 North Washington Street, Alexandria, Virginia 22314. Please contact us to set up an appointment at (703) 549 5551 or connect with us on Facebook and Twitter.

This entry was posted on Friday, March 24th, 2017 at 4:22 pm. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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