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A "ground" for divorce is a "reason" for divorce. A set of judicially recognized reasons for divorce exists in each state, including Virginia or Maryland. You must use one or more of these reasons to justify your divorce.

  • If the spouses have lived separate and apart without any cohabitation and without interruption for one year, and it being the intention of one of the parties that the separation be permanent. This ground exists both in Virginia and Maryland states.
  • If the spouses have entered into a separation agreement and they have no minor children and they have lived separate and apart without cohabitation and without interruption for six months. Such short period of separation exists only in Virginia, and in a number of other states, but not in Maryland.
  • For adultery; or for sodomy committed during marriage.
  • Where one spouse has been convicted of a felony and sentenced to serve more than a year in prison and there has been no cohabitation after the other spouse learned of the conviction.
  • Where either spouse has been guilty of cruelty, caused the other to reasonably fear bodily harm, or has deserted the other, the innocent party may be granted a divorce after a year.


In family law, disputes often arise about where a divorce or child custody case should be heard. Laws governing divorce and child custody vary in different states and different countries, and these differences can have dramatic effects on the outcome of certain cases.

In order to obtain a divorce in Virginia or Maryland, at least one of the parties to the divorce action must have been (and still be) an actual and bona fide resident of the state for at least six (6) months prior to the filing of the divorce action.

Frequently, parents live in separate states when attempting to arrange for child custody and visitation. There are several laws, including the Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act (PKPA) and the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Enforcement Act (UCCJEA), that prevent people from engaging in child custody proceedings in two different states.