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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 is Considered Cruelty in a Leesburg Divorce?


At-fault divorces tend to be the most contentious and emotionally tense type of divorce you can experience. If you plan to file for an at-fault divorce in Virginia, you can only choose from one of the approved grounds for divorce. One of these grounds is cruelty. If you plan to file for divorce using cruelty as the reason, you have to know what situations apply and how to prove fault in this scenario. Just because you file for divorce using cruelty, the court doesn’t have to grant it. Plenty of people choose to file for an at-fault divorce, but the court ends up denying it.

In these situations, it’s typically easier to follow the no-fault process of divorce, even if your spouse is at fault for the marriage breaking down. If you still plan to go the route of an at-fault divorce, it’s important to have a skilled Leesburg divorce attorney on your side.

What is Cruelty?

While it’s completely unfair that someone should have to suffer through repeated episodes of violent behavior in order to meet the burden for a divorce under cruelty, that is what Virginia law requires. In order to meet the burden of proof, there needs to be multiple episodes of cruel acts. These can be actions that have led to bodily harm, putting your life at risk if you continue to stay married and live under the same roof. Any incidents that involve threats to your life, your health, etc. may be considered cruelty. Try to obtain proof of these incidents where physical altercations ensued. If the event is life threatening, it could be considered cruelty after only one episode.

Cruelty doesn’t have to involve physical altercations either. You can obtain a divorce on the grounds of cruelty if there are episodes involving abusive language, public humiliation, and more that lead to health problems. No one should have to put up with being emotionally abused. If you have proof of this, the court may be more likely to grant a divorce on the grounds of cruelty.

What Type of Proof is Required?

It’s important to sit down with your Virginia divorce attorney to discuss the circumstances of your situation and whether or not you can meet the requirements to prove cruelty or not. The evidence you present must be corroborated by a third party as well. This can be a police officer who responded to a report of abuse, or you can call someone to testify in court as to the nature and extent of your injuries. You can also present documents like police reports, photographs, hospital records, etc.

Contact a Leesburg Divorce Attorney Today

If you are considering filing for an at-fault divorce, or your ex is suing you using at-fault grounds, let a skilled Leesburg divorce attorney help. Contact Whitbeck Cisneros McElroy PC today to schedule an initial consultation. Let us help you determine what the best course of action is to get your divorce resolved as swiftly as possible so you can start a new chapter in your life.


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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!