From the Client Files: Separate and Not Apart

by Philip Yabut in

The Code of Virginia is very plain about the basic requirements for an uncontested divorce:

On the application of either party if and when the husband and wife have lived separate and apart without any cohabitation and without interruption for one year.  Va. Code § 20-91(A)(9)(a).

With the onset of the Great Recession and economic sluggishness still lingering thereafter, many divorcing couples are finding it difficult, if not impossible, to find and finance separate living arrangements during the one year time period.  So it is important to know that it is still possible to get a divorce even if both parties live under the same roof.

First, it would be helpful to sign some kind of mutual separation agreement which specifically delineates how the parties will maintain separate lives while sharing a roof.  But even if the parties do not create such an agreement, there are a number of things that they can do to show the court that they have the intention to divorce:

  • Hold yourselves as separated to all of your friends, relatives, co-workers, etc.
  • Maintain separate and distinct living spaces in the house.
  • Do not pay for the other's necessities, including food, clothing.
  • Have absolutely no sexual relations with each other.
  • Do not attend religious services or social functions together.
  • Prepare and eat meals separately.
  • Keep separate finances, including (but not limited to) savings, checking and retirement accounts.
  • Do not share household chores -- i.e., clean up after yourself only.
  • Show evidence that it would be financially difficult or onerous to pay for separate living arrangements.
  • Have a someone check in from time to time to corroborate separate living arrangements.

While it is more difficult to get a divorce under these arrangements, it is not impossible.  Just plan ahead, be ready to thoroughly explain your situation to the court and a have corroborating witness who will back up your claims.

Family Law News article with case law.

This blog is an advertisement for the Law Office of Philip R. Yabut, PLLC, and the information in this post is not to be construed as legal advice, nor does reading it form an attorney-client relationship. Please do not post confidential information in the comments section.