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Frequently Asked Questions about Separation Agreements in Virginia

Virginia courts do not grant legal separations. However, couples may create a separation agreement — also called a property settlement agreement. Before entering into such an agreement, it is important that you are educated on what it entails.

What is a separation agreement?

A separation agreement allows couples to live separately, equitably divide their property and determine child custody and support without getting a divorce. A separation agreement must be agreed upon and signed by both parties.

Can we still get a divorce after signing a separation agreement?

Yes. In Virginia, once the agreement is signed and the couple has been separated for the appropriate amount of time, either party can file for an uncontested divorce on no-fault grounds. The appropriate time for a couple with no minor children is six months. If you have minor children, you must live apart for 12 months before filing for a divorce.

What is covered by separation agreement?

A separation agreement covers all of the same ancillary issues that you need to address in a divorce, including:

  • Child custody
  • Child support
  • Property division
  • Spousal support

It is important to outline exactly how each spouse is going to be responsible for each issue to avoid further conflict.

What if we can’t agree?

If you and your spouse cannot agree on the details of your separation, then your other option is to go to court, where a judge will make the final decisions for you. This is much more stressful and takes more time.

Do I need an attorney when creating a separation agreement?

Even if you and your spouse have minimal conflict, hiring attorneys is a good idea. A Virginia divorce lawyer can ensure that your interests are being met. An attorney knows the proper language that should be used and is familiar with all of the details your agreement should cover.

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