In this post we discussed the difference between fault and no-fault divorce in Virginia, and in this post we talked about the four fault grounds for divorce: Adultery, desertion, felony conviction with 1-year incarceration, and cruelty.

Put Safety First, Evidence Second

If you are in a marriage that involves cruelty, it is essential that you get yourself (and your children, if any) safe before taking any other steps. Use your local domestic violence resource center, lean on trusted family and friends, and make a plan to get away from your abuser safely. Later, when you are safe, consulting a divorce lawyer about next steps like a Protective Order can help keep you that way.

To get a divorce on the grounds of cruelty, you must prove “cruelty or reasonable apprehension of bodily hurt.” The law recognizes physical cruelty, where one spouse is violent or otherwise endangers your health and safety, as well as emotional cruelty, such as severe verbal abuse, humiliation, or neglect. In the case of emotional cruelty, the cruelty must not have been provoked.

Cruelty can be shown with evidence of a series of acts or one very severe act. In addition to physical violence, examples of cruelty include episodes of abusive language, screaming, constant criticism or humiliation, or publicly carrying on an affair. In cases of physical violence, there are often no witnesses. In such cases, important evidence might include police records and medical records for any injuries received. For emotional cruelty cases, witnesses, emails, and text messages are examples of evidence that could be important at trial.

Seek Wise Counsel

If you are in a relationship where someone is hurting or demeaning you, don’t wait. We can help you make a plan to move towards a better life while keeping yourself and your children safe.