On top of divorce stress, coronavirus is leading to additional challenges for couples who are separated or looking to file for a divorce. Stay-at-home orders are forcing separated couples to live under the same roof. Spouses who already decided on a divorce are being left wondering whether they should file now even though courts are closed. Family law attorney Carolyn Grimes provides insights for couples looking to separate or file for a divorce during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Separation During COVID-19

In the state of Virginia, couples who live together are typically not considered separated. You must be separated at least 12 months before you can petition for divorce. “There is no legal separation in Virginia. Most of the case law says you cannot be separated while living under the same roof,” says Grimes. Now, because of COVID-19 it’s a lot harder to move and the stay-at-home orders are forcing people to live together even though they want to separate. 

For couples who have to live together right now, but want to be considered as being separated, Grimes gives the following tips:  

  • Split finances
  • Eat your meals separately 
  • Stay in separate rooms 
  • If possible, stay in separate levels of the house

Filing for Divorce During COVID-19

Many people are asking, “Should I be moving forward with my divorce now even though courts are closed?” The answer is yes. While COVID-19 has created challenges for couples filing for divorce, now is not the time to wait. When courts do re-open there will be a huge backlog of cases and increased wait time to get a hearing date for the next year to 18 months says Grimes. She advises spouses who are looking to get a divorce to file now to reserve your place in line. 

When to Contact an Attorney

If you have any questions about divorce or separation, or would like to set up a consultation, please contact Carolyn Grimes at cgrimes@oldtownlawyers.com.

About the Author

This is a profile picture of family law attorney Carolyn M. Grimes.

Carolyn M. Grimes

Carolyn Grimes is a partner at Friedman, Grimes, Meinken & Leischner PLLC, practicing in all areas of family law including divorce, spousal support, child custody, child support, equitable distribution, retirement issues, and prenuptial agreements, among other areas.

Consistently named a ‘Best Lawyer’ (from 2014-2023), Ms. Grimes has also been honored as an AV Preeminent (2001-2022) and Gold Client Champion (2019-2021) by Martindale-Hubbell. In addition, she’s been named a Top Lawyer by Northern Virginia Magazine Magazine (2011, 2015, 2017, 2019, 2020, 2021), a Top Attorney by Arlington Magazine (2019-2021), and a Top Attorney by Washingtonian Magazine (2015) as well as many other top attorney designations.

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