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Is there a different divorce processes for same-sex couples?

On Behalf of | Oct 2, 2023 | Family Law

The divorce process is the same for all couples, regardless of gender identity or sex. However, if you were married in another state as a civil union or domestic partnership, divorcing may be a bit more complicated here in Virginia. Similarly, if you have a child that is not your biological child, like through surrogacy, establishing parentage and getting parental rights will be more complicated than if the child was both spouses’ biological child.

Divorce in Virginia

First, to divorce here, you must have lived here for at least 6 months. Second, you must have a reason for the divorce, which is either fault-based or no-fault.

Fault-based divorce

The grounds for a fault-based divorce are abandonment, felony conviction, cruelty and, most commonly, adultery. A fault-based divorce requires proof of the fault that could be contested in subsequent divorce litigation. The outcome of that litigation will affect all aspects of the divorce (alimony, child support, etc.).

No-fault divorce

A no-fault divorce occurs when the spouses agree to end the marriage without making any wrongdoing allegations. Though, if you want to file a no-fault divorce in Virginia, you must be separated and living apart. If you do not have children, the wait time is 6 months, but if you have children, you must separate for 1 year.

No-fault divorce maynot require litigation, which means they can befaster and cheaper. Though, you will still have to resolve your divorce issues, like child custody, alimony, child support, and equitable distribution etc.


To start your Virginia divorce journey, you will need to file the divorce complaint. It is typically filed with the circuit court in the county where you last cohabited as spouse and spouse. However, you may have options as to where to file. A family law attorney can advise as to what type of divorce to file, where to file, and what the process looks like. Filing the complaint is only the first step.