Divorce in Virginia: What happens if I leave the marital home?

If you have made the choice to separate from your spouse, you may be asking if leaving the marital home is in your best interest. Virginia is a state with fault-based grounds for divorce, meaning that one spouse can assert some sort of marital misconduct against the other. One of these grounds is desertion. Desertion is comprised of two parts: 1) the actual breaking off of the cohabitation, and 2) the intent to end the marriage by the deserter.

Simply put, moving out of the marital home with the intent to sever the marriage can sometimes be considered desertion. However, there are ways to avoid a desertion charge. First, if you can get your spouse to sign something that states he or she agrees with your choice to move out, then it is likely not desertion. In addition, if there are facts to support your leaving the marital home, such as domestic violence, or a spouse’s actions rendering the marital home environment intolerable, you may be able to leave without being guilty of desertion.

If you have found yourself wanting to leave your marital home, but are unsure of your options, please don’t hesitate to contact us at 804-423-1382 or info@wmmlegal.com to schedule a one-on-one consultation with one of our experienced Virginia divorce and custody attorneys.