When a couple wants to go separate ways without divorcing, they may choose to pursue separation. A separation can range from a short trial period to a legally binding, permanent agreement. Some people choose to permanently separate rather than file for divorce for various reasons, most often related to their religious beliefs, tax benefits, or healthcare reasons, amongst others. Filing for separation should be carefully considered.
Virginia’s Own Brand of Separation
Permanent separation means that the individuals do not live together as a married couple any longer. Any property and assets they obtain from this point forward will be considered their own separate property. Debts related to the family home and child care can be considered jointly-held debts, with both parties responsible.
Virginia law has a different stance on the use of separations. The law does not recognize the legality of separations, instead uses them only to develop grounds for divorce. If a couple is separated for a period of time, the court may then grant a no fault divorce.
Instead, Virginia offers what is called a bed and board divorce. A bed and board divorce is used when a couple wants to divorce but is prevented from doing so based on their religious beliefs. The couple will need to sign a separation agreement outlining custody, child support, property division, and other important related matters. This agreement is legally binding and can be used as a contract in court if one party fails to uphold their end of the agreement.
If a couple resumes living together at any point, their bed and board divorce or separation agreement is voided unless there is provisions detailing otherwise. In addition, any grounds for divorce that the couple may be working towards ends once reconciliation occurs.