What Is A No-Fault Divorce?

In Virginia, spouses can file for divorce on either a “fault” or “no-fault” basis. No-fault divorce is a popular option because neither party is required to place or accept blame in order for the marriage to be dissolved. However, divorcing couples do have the option of filing a fault-based divorce in certain circumstances. Care must be taken in determining whether to file on a fault basis, and if so, the grounds upon which to file for divorce.

No-Fault Vs. Fault-Based Divorce

In Virginia, among other requirements, spouses wishing to pursue a no-fault divorce must live apart for at least a year without interruption. Courts may grant a divorce after only 6 months of living apart for spouses with no minor children who have entered into a separation agreement.

Virginia does offer fault-based divorce options, and findings of fault may impact the outcome of cases in terms of spousal support and property division. The common fault-based grounds for divorce are:

  • Adultery
  • Desertion or abandonment
  • Cruelty

Even if one party committed adultery or was otherwise at fault for the breakdown of the marriage, filing a fault-based divorce is not required. Parties may still choose to file a no-fault divorce for personal or strategic reasons. Virginia courts rarely grant divorces on fault grounds as they can be difficult to prove, however, fault-grounds can have an impact on outcome if they are proven.

Determining the grounds upon which to file for divorce is a critical early step that sets the stage for how the divorce will proceed. If you are considering divorce, seek the guidance of an experienced lawyer who can review your particular circumstances and address all available options.