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What are grounds for divorce for military members in Virginia?

Military service members in the United States, both active and retired, and their spouses follow a different set of family laws with regards to divorce. For a military service member, or his or her spouse, to divorce in Virginia, the member or spouse must have resided in the state for at least 6 months. If eligible, a military service member or spouse must declare at least one of five specific grounds for divorce. What are the grounds for a military divorce?

If a husband or wife can provide convincing proof of engagement of sexual relations outside of marriage, they may be granted a divorce. The grounds for divorce will not be honored if the claiming spouse willingly lived with the guilty spouse, essentially condoning the actions. The divorce will be honored even if sexual relations occur during a legal separation. Divorce may be granted immediately. A divorce may also be granted if a spouse is convicted of a felony and serves at least one year of jail time. Divorce may be granted immediately in such situations. A divorce for desertion or cruelty may be granted after one year.

A divorce may also be granted based on certain separation requirements. if the couple has a child under 18 and has been living separately for at least one year, or if the couple does not have any children under 18 years of age and have lived separately for at least six months they will meet the required criteria.

It is worth noting that couples can file for a legal separation with a decree of a court or through a separation agreement. The separation agreement will address certain rights, responsibilities and expectations among the two spouses such as visitation rights, child support and child custody. The agreement does not need to be filed with the state.

Source: JB Langley-Eustis Law Center, "Divorce and Separation in Virginia," accessed May 5, 2015

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