May 04th 2010 by Charlie Hofheimer
In Virginia, spouses are typically required to separate for 6 months or even a year before they are allowed to seek a Virginia divorce. For various reasons, you and your husband may find it necessary to continue living in the same house during your separation, which is also known as an in-house separation. A Virginia in-house separation can work but it’s important that you understand how to behave during this time.
According to Virginia laws, cohabitation is when you are living with someone as if you are married. Even if there has been no sexual contact between you and your husband, you are still considered to be cohabiting if you are demonstrating to others that you are still living together as a family. This behavior contradicts your intentions of a separation.
The way you act around others must convey that you and your husband are no longer a couple. This means you need to socialize separately, even if you have the same friends. Behaving as a separated couple also means being independent, so you and your husband will need separate phones, separate credit cards, and you’ll also each need to purchase your own food.
If you do not follow the correct guidelines for separated living in the same house, it may be found in court that there was collusion taking place. This is when a husband and wife fraudulently claim that they are separated when they actually are not.
The public policy of Virginia is to support marriage and family. Their goal is to make it more difficult for you to get divorce, so if you and your husband are not behaving like you are separated, it will only hurt you in the end. Consulting with your Virginia divorce attorney can give you more insight on how to handle situations specific to your Virginia same-house separation and living arrangements.