A separation lawyer in Alexandria can help you protect your rights make the best choices during a separation. If you are considering a divorce, it is important that you understand the requirements and separation is one of them.
Virginia requires couples to live separate and apart for one year (if they have children) or 6 months with no children. However, there is no set procedure for obtaining a legal separation. It usually involves living apart, but not always. Virginia has something called a “divorce from bed and board” which is limited to fault-based cases and rarely granted, but this is the closest thing to the legal separation other states have.
Separate and Apart
For divorce, living separate and apart means that there is physical separation and at least one party has the intent that the separation will be permanent.
- One of the parties must decide that the marriage is over and communicate that to the other spouse. This can be through text, email, or a letter, but it is important to document this by stating the intention to permanently end the marriage in writing.
- Physical Separation. Typically, one party moves out of the residence. But Virginia law does allow spouses to live separate and apart while under the same roof. There are strict guidelines for this process.
It is important to prove the date of separation with factual documents, so the courts have evidence to corroborate the date.[Related: Mediation in Alexandria]
This is a contract that is used to settle all the rights, obligations, and interests of the separation or divorcing parties. Also referred to as marital settlement agreements or property settlement agreements. A separation agreement:
- Typically resolve all outstanding issues like property/asset/debt division, spousal support, child support, child custody and visitation. Essentially, a comprehensive separation agreement can avoid the need for expensive and lengthy litigation.
- Gives the parties greater control over how the issues are settled.
- Can shorten the separation time required for a no-fault divorce.
- Provides that parties will be on a no-fault ground of separation. Either party may file for an uncontested divorce once the separation time has been met.
- Allows the parties to agree on matters that are outside court jurisdiction.
There are some limitations of separation agreements. Parties should understand that:
- Separation agreements are voluntary contracts. If either party refuses to sign, there is no agreement.
- It is not a court order. A fully executed agreement is a valid contract and is enforceable by general contract principles. However, it is not enforceable as a court order until it is incorporated into a court order.
- Even with a separation agreement, parties are not “legally separated”.
Do I Need a Separation Lawyer?
While many people decide to sign a separation agreement without reviewing it with an attorney, this is a dangerous approach. Yes, it might save you a bit of money in short-term, but by cutting corners you could be getting a bad deal. A separation lawyer knows what you are entitled to and helps you protect those rights.
A separation lawyer drafts a customized, personal agreement that is tailored to meet your needs. This is much better than a generic online form that leaves you vulnerable and unprotected. Everyone loves a good DIY project, but this isn’t it. Nothing can replace the advice and skill of family lawyer.
Separation Lawyer in Alexandria VA
Our team of skilled lawyers have years of experience with separation and divorce. If you are considering a separation, please let us assist you in the review, drafting, and negotiations of separation agreements. Contact King Campbell Poretz and Mitchell today to learn more.