Williamsburg Divorce Attorney
If you have a divorce proceeding pending in the Williamsburg/James City County Circuit Court, the Williamsburg divorce attorneys at Simms Showers LLP can provide you with the personal attention and dedication you need to make sure you and your children are adequately protected and well-represented in the final outcome of any divorce judgment and related court orders.
Grounds for Divorce in Williamsburg, Virginia
There are two different kinds of divorce in Virginia: a “divorce from board and board” and a “divorce from the bond of matrimony.” A divorce from bed and board is more like a legal separation; the court can implement orders regarding custody, support and related matters, but neither party is allowed to marry again. A divorce from the bond of matrimony is a more complete divorce that does allow the parties to remarry as soon as 30 days after the divorce is finalized by the court. While a divorce from bed and board can be sought immediately upon separation, a divorce from the bond of matrimony requires a one-year period of separation first, or six months in some circumstances.
Different grounds must be proven depending on which type of divorce is being sought. A divorce from bed and board must be based on one of the following grounds:
Willful Desertion or Abandonment
To count as desertion or abandonment, the act must be willful. This means that not only must one party leave the other, but that party must intend to desert or abandon the other. If the couple agrees to split up, one party cannot claim desertion or abandonment.
Cruelty and Reasonable Apprehension of Hurt
“Cruelty” is typically thought of as physical abuse or threats of harm, but cruelty might also include mental/emotional/psychological abuse if it is of a nature that could harm one’s physical or mental health. Our Williamsburg divorce lawyers litigate difficult cases involving allegations of cruel treatment that may or may not rise to the level of grounds for divorce.
The grounds for a divorce from the bond of matrimony are broader than the grounds for a divorce from bed and board. These are the grounds applicable to a divorce from the bond of matrimony:
Willful Desertion or Abandonment
If the desertion has lasted for more than one year, then this fact may be grounds to seek an absolute divorce.
Cruelty and Reasonable Apprehension of Harm
This ground can provide the basis for divorce once a year has passed since the parties split up over the mistreatment.
Adultery, Sodomy or Buggery
Adultery refers to having sexual intercourse with another person outside of the marriage. Sodomy can include other types of sexual relations besides intercourse, while buggery is generally vaguely defined as bestiality or a sexual act that is “a crime against nature.” Adultery, as well as sodomy or buggery outside of the marriage, is a ground for divorce in Virginia.
The party alleging adultery (or sodomy or buggery) must be able to prove it in court. There are a number of ways to prove adultery through direct or circumstantial evidence, and there are also many legal defenses. If you are alleging or challenging a charge of adultery in a James City County divorce, the Williamsburg divorce lawyers at Simms Showers LLP can ably represent you and argue your case to the judge.
Grounds for divorce exist if either spouse has been convicted of a felony, sentenced to confinement for more than one year, and has been confined. The parties cannot cohabitate after learning of the confinement.
These days, most Williamsburg divorces are no-fault divorce cases, where one party does not have to prove that the other engaged in some form of marital misconduct. Instead, the parties can divorce simply because they no longer desire to be married to one another. All that is required here is that the parties demonstrate they have separated and continuously lived separate and apart without having relations for one year. If the pair do not share any minor children and have signed a separation agreement or property settlement, then they can file for a no-fault divorce as soon as six months after separation.
Should I File for Fault or No-Fault Divorce?
Even if grounds exist for divorce based on a spouse’s misconduct, the filing spouse might wonder whether it might be easier, quicker and cheaper to file for no-fault divorce instead. Beyond just providing a ground for divorce, fault can play a role in how divorce matters are decided by the judge. For instance, a party can be denied spousal support if that spouse was guilty of adultery, unless the spouse can prove by clear and convincing evidence that it would be manifestly unjust to deny support. Also, the court can consider other misconduct that led to the breakdown of the marriage, such as cruelty, desertion, or a felony conviction, in deciding whether to award support. Additionally, marital misconduct is one of a dozen factors the courts look at in determining how to fairly divide the marital property. If one spouse’s misconduct caused the marriage to fall apart, they might not fare as well in the property distribution.
It generally does cost more and take longer to resolve a fault-based divorce than a no-fault divorce. A fault-based divorce might also be more heated and adversarial, which might not be best if the couple has children. Every case is unique and should be independently evaluated. Your Williamsburg divorce attorney at Simms Showers LLP can advise you on which course of action is best in your particular situation.
Get the Help You Need With Your Williamsburg Divorce
For practical, strategic advice and zealous representation in your divorce case in Williamsburg, call Simms Showers LLP at 757-280-2382 to speak with one of our experienced and dedicated Williamsburg divorce lawyers.