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What Is Legal Separation?

Posted on: May 7, 2016

Have you been thinking about ending your marriage? If so, you’ve probably contemplated legal separation. After all, separation doesn’t mean that your marriage is over once and for all. Instead, you and your spouse can take time apart to give some thought to the relationship and ultimately determine whether it’s worth continuing.

Of course, there are a lot of questions that surround the idea of legal separation. How does it work? How long should it last? Why is it necessary? What makes it a “legal” separation? The trusted divorce lawyers at Graham Law Firm, PLLC have the answers for you. Keep reading, or contact us today by calling 703-443-9360.

  • How Do I Get Separated?

    As a resident of Virginia, you won’t need to file for legal separation. Instead, only one of you has to decide that the marriage is over. Once that happens, you have to stop living together as husband and wife—otherwise known as cohabitating. If you’ve done this, you’re officially separated. Cohabitation refers to the way you behave both in the privacy of your home and in public. For example, a couple that is cohabitating may wear wedding rings, celebrate anniversaries, and share meals.

  • How Long Should I Stay Separated?

    If you are getting separated in preparation for a divorce, your separation must last for one year if you have minor children or six months if you:

    • Do not have minor children
    • Have a signed agreement in place

    You must live separately without interruption or cohabitation to get a divorce.

  • Why Is Separation Necessary?

    In order to get divorced, you must have grounds. While you can use fault-based grounds such as adultery, felony convictions, cruelty, and bodily harm, you are also able to use no fault grounds if:

    • You do not have fault-based grounds
    • You have fault-based grounds but you’d rather carry out a no fault divorce

    However, if you choose to pursue a no fault divorce, keep in mind the terms for the length of separation mentioned above.

  • How Should I Behave During the Separation?

    No matter the circumstances of the separation, keep in mind that:

    • You’re still technically married. No matter how long your separation lasts, you’re still married until a judge enters your final divorce decree.
    • Your behavior matters. Because you’re still technically married, you will be committing adultery if you choose to have relations with an adult outside of your marriage.

    If you decide to reconcile and end your separation, the separation period will end. However, if you choose to get a divorce, you have already begun the process by separating in the first place. If this is the route you take, consult a professional divorce lawyer to help you navigate the process.

  • Divorce Lawyers in Northern Virginia

    If you are thinking about getting separated or are ready to pursue divorce, contact the award-winning divorce lawyers and family law attorneys at Graham Law Firm, PLLC. Our team can provide trusted legal counsel and representation while guiding you through the process. We’ve helped thousands of families in the Northern Virginia area reach divorce settlements through mediation, litigation, and collaborative divorce services.

    Call 703-443-9360 today to learn more about our services or fill out a contact form!

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