Besides the “No Fault” Divorce in Virginia, a couple also may get divorced on the grounds of “fault.” Typically the divorce papers can be filed as soon as the fault grounds come into existence. The various types of “fault” are as follows:
1. Adultery, Sodomy or Buggery.
While adultery (cheating on a spouse by having sexual intercourse with another person), sodomy (cheating on a spouse by having oral or anal sex with another person) and buggery (committing bestiality or a sexual act against nature) are “fault” grounds for divorce in Virginia, proving any of these acts can oftentimes be very difficult. The evidence must be clear, satisfactory and conclusive that the sexual act did in fact happen. Mere suspicion or speculation is not sufficient.
2. Cruelty and reasonable apprehension of bodily harm.
To become divorced on the grounds of cruelty and reasonable apprehension of bodily harm means that one spouse must show that he or she has been subject to acts by the other that tend to cause bodily harm. Oftentimes the victimized spouse will have sought one or more protective orders against the abusive spouse. Mental cruelty alone is normally not sufficient although if such mental cruelty has led to physical harm then it may be sufficient.
3. Willful desertion or abandonment
Mere separation by mutual consent will not constitute desertion or abandonment. Instead, one spouse must stop living with the other with an intention to abandon or desert him or her. If one spouse leaves because he or she has been subject to cruelty and is in fear of bodily harm, then that will not constitute abandonment or desertion. Also, one spouse may also be able to show “constructive desertion” by showing that the other spouse did not physically leave but for all practical purposes by his or her actions does not intend to be married anymore. A spouse who leaves the marital home because of cruelty and fear of bodily harm also may be able to show constructive desertion.