Making the decision to pursue a divorce is a big step, whether you’re planning on a traditional divorce or want to file for an uncontested divorce. But before many couples formally file for divorce, they must first separate. Filing for legal separation is something you can do, but is it a necessary step before you can file for divorce and start the divorce proceedings in Virginia? Here’s what you need to know.

separation before divorce

Virginia Does Require Separation First

The state of Virginia does require couples to separate before they can file for divorce. Currently, couples without children must live separately for at least six months and couples with children must live separately for at least 12 months prior to filing for divorce. But the state is flexible and understands that maintaining separate residences may not be feasible for many families.

In Virginia, couples can separate while still living in the same home. And this can be ideal for couples who are planning on filing for an uncontested divorce and those who have simply grown apart but still want to remain friends. 

If you and your spouse choose to go this route, you’ll want to occupy different bedrooms and cease all sexual activity with each other for the duration of your separation. You’ll also need to stop presenting yourselves as married, so taking off your wedding bands, going to family functions together, and other similar actions need to stop.

The Benefits of Separating Before Divorce

Though separating from your spouse can seem stressful, there are some benefits that most couples will experience as soon as they start their separation period, even if you’re living under the same roof. 

Lets You Maintain Benefits

When you and your spouse separate prior to divorce, you’re still legally married as far as your health insurance and other benefits are concerned. If one spouse has some ongoing health issues or needs to maintain coverage for any reason, they can do so while you’re separated. Even better, you’ll have more time to search for new coverage.

Helps You Make Sure Divorce Is Right

Terminating a marriage is a big decision, and it’s not something you should enter into lightly. When you and your spouse are separated, you’re able to make sure it’s the right decision for both of you. If you decide to reconcile, you won’t be out the time or money invested in a divorce.

Helps You Figure Out Terms

You and your spouse can use the separation period to figure out what you want the divorce to look like, especially if you’re planning on an uncontested divorce. This can save you time and help you move through the divorce process faster once you’re ready to file.

Separation Is the First Step in Filing for Divorce in Virginia

Separating from your spouse can give you the space you need to figure out the best next steps. If you and your spouse decide that filing for divorce is the right option and you’re in full agreement on the terms, working with a Virginia uncontested divorce attorney can help you get things moving in the right direction. Contact AC Rieman to schedule a consultation today. 

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