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Divorce in Virginia

Fairfax attorney with extensive knowledge of state law

I began practicing family law in Virginia more than 20 years ago. At The Law Offices of Robert C. Eustice, you get clear information and reliable guidance in matters including separation periods, accumulation of marital property, and child support and custody.

Grounds for divorce

In Virginia, a no-fault divorce may be filed after a separation period. You can also cite fault grounds, which require various conditions of separation.

No-fault divorce You can file for a no-fault divorce in Virginia if you and your spouse have been:

  • Separated for 1 year; or
  • Separated for 6 months, with no minor children, and a separation agreement.

Fault grounds for divorce

Several of Virginia’s fault grounds require you to be separated from your spouse for one year before you can be granted a final divorce, including:

  • Cruelty.
  • Reasonable apprehension of bodily harm.
  • Desertion or abandonment. If your spouse has left you and does not intend to return, or, you had to leave the marital home because of how you were being treated by your spouse (called “constructive desertion”).

A fault ground that does not require that there be a specific period of separation before you can be granted a final divorce is:

  • Adultery. You may file for a final divorce as soon as you become aware of your spouse’s adulterous behavior. You are not required to have a specific period of separation.

I can help you determine the most appropriate grounds for your Virginia divorce.


In Virginia, a court can award alimony while a divorce case is pending (which is called pendente lite alimony).  At the divorce trial, a court can award alimony to a spouse for a specified period of time, or “permanently.”  Generally, alimony (whether for a defined duration or permanent) terminates at the death of either party, or the remarriage of the recipient spouse.  Under Virginia law, permanent alimony is precluded from being awarded to an adulterous spouse, unless the court determines by clear and convincing evidence that a denial of alimony, even to the adulterous spouse, would constitute a manifest injustice after consideration of the parties’ respective degrees of fault in the marriage and their relative economic circumstances. As of 2019, alimony is no longer taxable to the recipient and tax-deductible by the payor.

Marital property distribution

Marital property stops accumulating in Virginia upon the final separation of the parties, if, at that time or thereafter, at least one of the parties intends that their separation be permanent. This means generally that you and your spouse are entitled to keep any property you each individually acquire after you stop living together.  Depending on the circumstances, a single piece of property can be considered to be part marital and part separate, such as a retirement account that was accumulated in part both before the marriage and during the marriage.  I have the experience to help you assert your marital property rights, and defend your interests in your separate property.

Child custody

Virginia family courts do not have a presumption favoring either joint legal custody or joint physical custody.  The court has to decide whether joint custody (legal and/or physical) or sole custody (legal and/or physical) will be in your child’s best interests.  Legal custody deals with the issue of who gets to make the major decisions concerning your child’s welfare, such as health-care and educational issues.  Physical custody and visitation deal with where your child resides at any given time.  You can rely on me to help you achieve a custody arrangement that is in your child’s best interests.

Child support

The Virginia child support guidelines presumptively apply to all child support cases regardless of the amount of the parties’ combined incomes.  The amount of child support is determined after consideration of each party’s gross income, along with consideration of any work-related childcare expenses, and the costs of providing health insurance for your child(ren). Additionally, the amount of days that each party has with the child(ren) can also effect the amount of child support to be paid.  Child support generally ends at age 18, unless the child is still in high school. In that case, the child support payments continue until the child graduates from high school or turns 19 years old, whichever occurs first.

Choose a lawyer with extensive knowledge of Virginia divorce law

When you are facing divorce, select an experienced lawyer who knows when to negotiate and when to fight. Contact me, Virginia divorce attorney Robert C. Eustice. I am here to see you through this crisis.

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Attorney Robert C. Eustice
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Office Locations
  • Bethesda MD Office
    7910 Woodmont Avenue
    Suite 1160
    Bethesda MD, Maryland 20814
    Phone: 301-755-3940
    Fax: 301-215-7878
  • Fairfax VA Office
    3863 Plaza Drive
    Fairfax, Virginia 22030
    Phone: 301-755-3940
    Fax: 301-215-7878