When you and your spouse decide to get a divorce, you’ll likely want to start living apart. This is known as separation and it’s a required step in the divorce process. It shows the court that you and your spouse are serious about ending your marriage and the state typically requires that you and your spouse separate for at least six months prior to filing for divorce. But what exactly counts as being separated? Your Virginia uncontested divorce attorney explains.

Physically Living Separate and Apart

The most common type of separation couples enter into is physical separation. During this period one spouse typically moves out of the home you originally shared. The other spouse can move into a friend or family member’s home or rent or purchase a home of their own. 

This physical separation could make it easier for both of you to prepare for the divorce since you’ll each have your own space to review terms, figure out what you want, and identify the compromises you may be willing to make.

separated couple

In-Home Separation

Though physical separation is more common, it’s not the only type of separation that counts in the state of Virginia. In some instances, you and your spouse can separate while still living under the same roof. To qualify for this type of separation, you and your spouse must maintain separate bedrooms and should not engage in physical affection, sexual acts, or present yourself as a couple in public.

Keep in mind that you and your spouse should be in agreement when choosing this form of separation and effectively function as roommates—nothing more. You’ll want to tell your friends and family that you’re separating and stop attending events together. You should also stop joint activities like cooking meals together or cleaning up for each other. 

This can help you establish proof of separation and intent to live your lives separately.

Why Separation May Be Beneficial

Though separating for six months or more is required if you’re trying to file for a no-fault divorce, separating can have more benefits beyond helping you initiate the process. Here are a few ways that separating from your spouse could make preparing for divorce easier:

  • You’ll be able to live independently and regain a sense of self and self-confidence.
  • You’ll have the distance you need to make sure that divorce is the right option for both of you.
  • You’ll still be able to maintain health insurance if you’re on your spouse’s plan, giving you time to find new coverage before formally divorcing.

These are just a few benefits you can expect to see.

Do You Need to Pursue Legal Separation?

There is no legal separation guideline or requirement under Virginia state law. Though you will need to separate from your spouse prior to pursuing a no-fault divorce, you won’t have to pursue a legal separation as is common in other states.

This can be a good thing though. It cuts down on the amount of paperwork you’ll need to do and may even reduce the legal fees you have to pay leading up to your divorce.

Does that mean you shouldn’t consult with an attorney when you and your spouse agree to separate? Not at all. As part of your separation, you and your spouse may want to create a separation agreement, especially if you have children. This agreement can provide clear details about who is responsible for what, any custody arrangements during the separation, and more. Your Virginia uncontested divorce attorney can help you draft an agreement that works for your needs.

Work With an Experienced Virginia Divorce Attorney

If you and your spouse are ready to separate and prepare for a divorce, schedule a consultation with AC Rieman today. As an experienced Virginia uncontested divorce attorney, she can help you prepare your case and guide you through the process.

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