Roger Federer double-faulted twice in a row at Wimbledon1 July 2016, losing his semifinal match to Milos Raonic. That’s about as much fault as any person should have to endure, but in Virginia, you can go through a “fault” divorce, which basically exposes a litany of unpleasant behaviors in open court. Virginia, like the majority of other states, allows “fault” divorces, though it also allows “no-fault” divorce, too.
Fault vs. No-fault Divorce: What’s the Difference?
When you or your soon-to-be-ex-wife files for divorce with a circuit court in your city of residence, the filer has to decide which divorce is applicable:
- Fault-based divorce—Someone did one (or more!) of three awful things bad enough to dissolve the marriage
- No-fault divorce—Nobody takes the hit for breaking up the bond of matrimony
In Virginia, divorce also comes in two levels:
- Divorce from bed and board
- Divorce from the bond of matrimony
Divorce from bed and board is like the junior varsity version of everyone’s idea of divorce and allows the two of you to separate legally, with one teensy string attached. Divorce from bed and board is easier to prove and easier on both parties than divorce from matrimony, except for a little detail. Divorce from bed and board is essentially divorce from the bond of matrimony except for one tiny wrinkle. That string, detail and wrinkle: You cannot remarry.
The whole “neither party shall marry again during the life of the other” part of the Code of Virginia is definitely a buzz-kill for most men. That may be reason enough to pursue the varsity level divorce from the bond of matrimony. (Want to quote chapter and verse? We have your back. It’s Title 20, Chapter 6, Section 20-116; if you are scrawling it on a bar napkin in your role as pretend attorney to fellow pub crawlers, go for the fancy flourish and use the “section” sign: §.)
What Constitutes a Fault Divorce?
Virginia recognizes three main areas of misconduct worthy of breaking apart a marriage, says the Virginia Bar Association:
- Cruelty, willful desertion or abandonment—Where either one of you has been guilty of cruelty, caused reasonable apprehension of bodily hurt, or willfully deserted or abandoned the other, you can divorce a year after the cruelty or abandonment first took place
- Adultery, or buggery or sodomy outside of marriage—Virginia courts do not care what your kinky self and your kinky wife were up to, so long as you were faithful to each other when you did it
- Felony conviction—These are not the kind of bars we mean when we talk about the Bar Association
These are all genuinely unpleasant reasons for getting a divorce. You may have to either accuse your wife (and then prove the accusation true) of one of these behaviors, or you yourself have to own up to one (or more!).
Let’s take the colorfully worded phrase, “adultery, sodomy or buggery” and make darned sure you know what you are getting into. Adultery can be a reason for divorce if you can prove your wife was unfaithful. If, though, you choose to ignore the adultery and continue to live together after she tried out someone else’s mattress, you give up “adultery” as a reason for filing.
Sodomy is a sexual act other than traditional intercourse, which must be committed outside the marriage and must be proven in court. Buggery in Virginia means beastiality or a sexual act against nature, but again, it has to be with someone (or some animal) outside your marriage and with evidence of such buggery presented in court. Think long and hard about just exactly how you will prove in open court that your wife committed sodomy or buggery.
Felony conviction that yields a sentence of more than one year is acceptable grounds for divorce, so long as the two of you do not live together after you know about the conviction (your own or hers).
So, How about No-fault Divorce?
In Virginia you can opt for a “no-fault” divorce in which nothing in particular is the reason to go your separate ways, though Virginia does not recognize “Irreconcilable Differences.” You can file and get a no-fault divorce by proving you have not cohabitated for a year (if you have kids) or six months (if you have no kids; pets do not count).
Filing for Divorce? Be Informed!
When it comes to divorce, don’t take matters into your own hands! Consult with The Firm for Men and get real legal advice from skilled attorneys. Find out whether a divorce from bed and board or a divorce from the bond of matrimony is right for you. Contact the Firm for Men today online or call our office, located in the heart of Virginia Beach, at 757-383-9184. We’re proud to serve all of Hampton Roads.