There is no such term as “legal separation” in Virginia law. Sometimes people may refer to themselves as legally separated after they have signed a Marital Settlement Agreement with their spouse and are waiting out the required separation period until they can file for an uncontested divorce.
However, you can obtain a limited divorce, also called a “divorce a mensa et thoro” (from bed and board) if you have grounds. The grounds for a limited divorce are different than the grounds required for a final divorce. They are as follows:
Desertion or abandonment – no minimum duration
Cruelty – no required duration after the act of cruelty.
Note that, unlike for final divorce, there are no “no fault” limited divorce grounds in Virginia.
In Virginia, the reason for filing a limited divorce is usually to get your support or custody case into Circuit Court rather than Juvenile & Domestic Relations District Court when you need a court order regarding support or custody and you do not have grounds for a final divorce. If you think you have this situation, ask us about it.