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  • John C. Whitbeck, Jr.


    John C. Whitbeck, Jr. practices in the following areas of law: Family Law, Divorce, Child Custody, Child Support, Visitation Rights, Adoptions, Spousal Support, Mediation, Arbitration, Relocation Cases, Domestic Violence, Criminal Law, DUI/DWI, Reckless Driving, All Felonies, All Misdemeanors, Juvenile Crimes, Mental Health Law, Civil and Business Litigation, Construction Litigation, Education Law, Election Law, Debt Collection, Consumer and Lemon Law.

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  • Ruth M. McElroy


    Ruth M. McElroy practices in the following areas of law: Family law, Divorce, Child Custody, Child Support, Visitation Rights, Adoptions, Spousal Support, Relocation Cases, Pre and Post Marital Agreements, Domestic Violence, Reckless Driving, DUI/DWI, Juvenile Crimes, Felony and Misdemeanor Crimes, Traffic Offenses, Debt Collection, Civil and Business Litigation. She serves the Virginia Court system as a Guardian ad litem.

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  • Jennifer D. Cisneros


    Jennifer D. Cisneros practices in the following areas of law: Family law, Divorce, Child Custody, Child Support, Visitation Rights, Adoptions, Spousal Support, Relocation Cases, Domestic Violence, Juvenile Crimes, Reckless Driving, DUI/DWI, Estate Planning, Wills and Probate, Trusts, Civil and Business Litigation and Debt Collection.

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Frequently Asked Questions about Virginia Divorce


Not surprisingly, most people have a lot of questions when it comes to getting a divorce in Virginia. Here is a look at some of the more common questions couples have.

How long do you have to live in Virginia to file for a divorce in the state?

In order to qualify for residency in Virginia, at least one spouse must have been an actual and “bona fide” resident of the state for at least six months before filing for the divorce.

What does an actual and bona fide resident mean?

This term means that during the six months prior to filing the divorce petition, one or both spouses must have an actual, bona fide permanent residence in the state. It does not mean he or she must have been physically in the state for every day in order to meet the residency requirement.

What is the Venue in which to file a divorce?

Venue refers to the type of court and what locale the case should be filed in. Divorce matters in Virginia are handled in the Circuit Court. The proper court would be whatever county or city where the parties last lived together, or the filing spouse has the option to file in the county or city where the other spouse resides. In the event the other spouse lives out of state, the case would be handled in the county or city where the filing party lives.

What are the grounds for divorce in Virginia?

Grounds for divorce refers to the reason you are getting a divorce. It is a list of reasons that are recognized by the courts and are approved justifications for filing for divorce. An example of grounds for divorce would be adultery, desertion (abandonment) and physical or mental cruelty.

In the event you want to pursue a no-fault divorce, the courts will only grant one if you have lived separately, without cohabitation, for at least a year. This period must be uninterrupted. You can’t move out, come home for a month, and still count it from the original date you first moved out. The clock would reset. In the event you have no children and signed a separation agreement, the court may grant a no-fault divorce after uninterrupted co-habitation for six months rather than a year.

How is marital property divided in Virginia?

Virginia follows the “equitable distribution” rule, which means the distribution of both property and debts should be fair and equitable. This does not necessarily mean it’s split down the middle 50/50. The courts have discretion in how to equitably distribute property.

Is spousal support available and how is it calculated?

Spousal support or alimony may be available, and the court will consider a variety of factors when it comes to an award amount. The court will look at factors like the reason for the divorce, the standard of living during the marriage, how long you were married, how much each party contributed to the marriage, and more.  

Virginia Family Law Attorneys

Retaining a knowledgeable Virginia family law attorney is important in a divorce. You need someone who can protect your interests and ensure you receive a fair and equitable settlement. Contact the team at Whitbeck Cisneros McElroy PC to schedule a consultation and let one our skilled attorneys help you with your divorce and any other family law matters that may arise.

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Governor Northam’s Executive Order 53 provides that businesses that offer professional rather than retail services may remain open. Our firm is continuing to operate to ensure you and your family have advocates available for whatever legal issue you face. For clients who prefer, we can arrange meeting by Zoom or other video-conferencing. We are also implementing internal procedures to provide a safe environment in the office. Please contact us at 703-777-1795 or schedule an appointment today!