Question: My husband and I want to get a divorce but, neither one of us can afford to move. We have a 2 story house and he could move to the downstairs. Would this be legal?

Answer: Yes ,if you are economically pressed and simply must live together under the same roof, you can do so legally, with conditions. In Virginia, the two of you must have lived separate and apart without any cohabitation and without interruption for one year (or six months with a Settlement Agreement and no children. However, the following strict conditions will apply:

  1. Both parties need to be aware that at least one spouse has the intent to end the marriage, and this intent must remain throughout the separation. It is best to document this by stating the intention to permanently end the marriage (as of a certain date) in writing.
  2. The parties should stop having sex, and should sleep and keep their belongings in separate bedrooms (and use different bathrooms, ideally).
  3. They should stop holding themselves out as a married couple, both inside and outside the residence, which includes no longer wearing their wedding rings.
  4. The parties should tell family and friends of their separation.
  5. One of the parties must have a corroborating witness visit the residence on a regular basis, see that the parties are living separately, and be willing to attest to these facts under oath.
  6. Each spouse should stop grocery shopping, cooking, cleaning, and doing laundry for the other spouse.
  7. The parties should no longer go to family functions, social events, or on vacations together.
  8. They should also refrain from exchanging gifts on birthdays, anniversaries, or holidays.
  9. The parties should also establish separate bank accounts.