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How does a criminal conviction affect your divorce?

When you married your spouse, you likely vowed to support him or her for better or worse. You probably said nothing, though, about sticking with your partner after he or she commits a crime. Still, you likely want to know how a criminal conviction may affect your divorce proceedings.

Virginia law allows for both no-fault and fault-based divorces. With a no-fault divorce, the court does not require that you prove your spouse did something wrong. Instead, if you meet certain requirements, you can usually end your marriage without blaming your partner for its demise. Fault-based divorce works a bit differently.

No-fault divorce and a criminal conviction

If your spouse has a criminal conviction that bothers you, you may still be able to proceed with a no-fault divorce. To do so, you must live apart from your spouse for one of the following time periods:

  • Six months, if you have no minor children and have a written separation agreement
  • One year, if you have children under the age of 18

Filing for a no-fault divorce does not mean there are no problems with your marriage. Rather, it gives you the option of streamlining your divorce, especially if you and your partner have reached consensus about division of marital assets and other divorce-related matters.

Fault-based divorce and a criminal conviction

If filing a no-fault divorce is not an option or does not appeal to you, the Old Dominion allows you to use a criminal conviction as a legally recognized reason to end your marriage. For a fault-based divorce under this theory, your partner must have a felony conviction that is punishable by a year or more in prison.

In Virginia, there are some advantages and drawbacks to both no-fault and fault-based divorce. While only you can decide which path is right for your situation, a divorce based on your spouse’s criminal conviction likely allows you to proceed immediately without going through a waiting period or mandatory separation.

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