Not many states today recognize fault-based divorce, but then again, Virginia is not like many states. Not only does the state recognize fault divorce but also, it classifies divorce in one of two ways: divorce from bed and board and divorce from the bond of matrimony. Virginia State Bar explains the two types of divorce more in-depth and explores the grounds for obtaining each.
A divorce from bed and board is a partial divorce under which you and your spouse separate for one year. During this legal separation, neither of you can remarry. A divorce from the bond of matrimony is a complete and total divorce. Save for in extreme circumstances, the state requires you to go through a divorce from bed and board before it will consider granting you an absolute divorce. However, to obtain a divorce from bed and board, you or your spouse must provide “grounds,” even if you both agree the marriage should end.
One valid reason for divorce from bed and board is cruelty and rational worry of bodily harm. In other words, Virginia courts recognize domestic assault as grounds for divorce. If you wish to use this reasoning, you or the injured party must prove that the abuse resulted in bodily harm and that continued cohabitation would render one or both spouses unsafe.
Though Virginia does not recognize mental cruelty alone as a grounds for divorce, if the conduct endangers the physical and mental health of the petitioning spouse, it may acquiesce to the separation. However, harsh words alone do not suffice.
If the courts approve your divorce from bed and board on the grounds of cruelty, you and your spouse must wait one year to pursue an absolute. After a year, the courts will grant you an official divorce.
This content is not meant to serve as legal advice. It is for educational purposes only.