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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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What Happens When Your Spouse Doesn’t Want a Divorce in Virginia?


There’s no denying that divorce is hard. The initial discussion is traumatic, especially if one side doesn’t anticipate the discussion is coming. What happens, however, if after telling your spouse you want a divorce, they refuse? While it may be a more difficult process, it doesn’t mean that your spouse can stop you from proceeding.

It’s important to speak with a Leesburg divorce attorney at the start. Your attorney can help you understand how the divorce process will work when your spouse refuses to agree to the divorce in the first place.

Grounds for Divorce in Virginia

Virginia allows for two categories for divorce — one allows for an immediate divorce and the other requires a waiting period before you can get a divorce. Either way, your spouse can make the process more challenging by disputing the grounds. In order to qualify for an immediate divorce, you must prove that one of the following is true:

  • Your spouse committed adultery, sodomy, or buggery, all of which can be difficult to prove. To qualify, you cannot reside with your spouse after he or she committed one of these actions.
  • Your spouse has been convicted of a felony and incarcerated for at least a year or more. Like with adultery, you cannot have continued cohabitation with your spouse after he or she was released from prison.

If you don’t qualify for an immediate divorce, you can still pursue one after a one-year waiting period. If this happens, it doesn’t guarantee your spouse won’t dispute the grounds in this category either. Grounds here include:

  • Spouse deserted you without a valid reason;
  • Spouse was physically cruel;
  • Spouse forced your hand to leave by his or her actions; or
  • You and your spouse have been separated for a minimum of at least a year.

What Happens After You File for Divorce

If your spouse is refusing to go along with the divorce, you need to start the process and file the papers. Once you file a complaint, the case has officially commenced. After you serve your spouse, they have to answer. In the event he or she doesn’t answer, you are allowed to proceed with the divorce without the need to provide any further notice.

In the event your spouse does answer and contests the divorce, you will have the court on your side to help things progress. This is important if he or she just hopes that by disappearing or refusing to cooperate, it will mean the divorce won’t proceed.

Contact a Leesburg Divorce Attorney

There are other ways your spouse can try to delay your divorce. He or she might dispute aspects of division of property, challenge custody and support issues, etc. Any issues that you cannot agree on will require a judge to decide. Your spouse cannot keep the judge from rendering a decision if your divorce proceeds through litigation. If you need assistance with your divorce, contact Whitbeck Cisneros McElroy PC today to schedule a consultation. Let one of our skilled divorce attorneys help you through this difficult time.


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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!