The amount of time it takes to get a divorce depends on the type of divorce. When you file for a divorce, you must have a reason, also known as the “grounds for separation.”

You can file either a no-fault or fault-based divorce. These then fall under either contested or uncontested. It can all get a little confusing.


Most of the time a no-fault divorce is uncontested. The reasoning behind this is the state of Virginia requires a period of separation between the spouses. During this time, the partners can settle financial and child support and custody arrangements, along with how to handle the property. There are two waiting periods.

  1. If you have no children, you and your spouse must live separately for at least six months. You cannot decide to reconcile and move back in together during this time and then continue with the divorce if you separate again. The process will start over.
  2. If you have children, you must separate for at least one year. The above rules apply in this case, as well.


Spouses who file a fault-based divorce have more egregious reasons. These include adultery, abuse, cruelty and abandonment.

  1. There is no waiting period to file a divorce on the grounds of adultery. But Virginia requires “clear and convincing” proof of the action. In other words, you must present evidence to the court showing there is no doubt your spouse had sexual intercourse with another person.
  2. In the case of abuse, cruelty or abandonment, you must wait one year. The waiting period starts from the date of the act.

In most cases, an uncontested divorce takes the least amount of time even when including the separation period. A contested divorce involving animosity and continued disagreements can draw out the process.