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What Constitutes Cruelty in Virginia as a Means for Grounds to Divorce?

Divorce is often a painful and difficult experience. The process of divorce is a legal one and an attorney should be consulted so that the process is navigated correctly. Each divorce is unique and may require that special attention is given to the particular facts of your case.

What is Cruelty

In Virginia divorce may be granted on a variety of fault-based grounds that include adultery, felony conviction, cruelty, or willful desertion/abandonment. If one seeks divorce on a ground of cruelty it is best to contact an attorney, as Virginia has legally defined what is considered cruelty. Typically, cruelty is anything that leads to bodily harm and thus makes living together unsafe. Any action that involves danger to life, limb or health will be considered cruelty. Therefore proof of one or multiple instances of physical altercations would be considered cruelty by most courts. It is important to note that one act of violence can be considered cruelty and a victim does not need to endure multiple acts of violence for cruelty to be a grounds for divorce. Thus a single act by a spouse that is severe enough to endanger life or do serious bodily harm can be used as grounds for divorce in the State of Virginia.

Cruelty Is Not Just Physical Harm

Cruelty is not just physical harm, but may take other forms as well. Angry words, coarse and abusive language, humiliation and other malicious annoyances are considered cruelty. Cruelty can be the sum total of consistent emotional abuse. In Virginia, spouses who have endured such emotional abuse where they suffer from anxiety, depression, weight loss or other psychological harms have been granted divorce based on cruelty. For example, someone who is constantly humiliated by their spouse or  who has been shown coldness or indifference from their spouse may fulfill the definition of cruelty. However, rudeness, an occasional temper, or an occasional refusal of sex, where it does not endanger bodily harm, will not rise to the level of cruelty under Virginia law. Also, adultery that exposes a spouse to potential STDs may be considered cruelty in the state of Virginia.

Contact An Attorney

When seeking a divorce on the grounds of cruelty it is important to contact an attorney. A family law attorney will assist you in collecting the necessary proof to maintain your assertion of cruelty for legal purposes. Divorce is never easy, and a divorce where cruelty is involved can be particularly daunting. That being said, our legal professionals at the office of Shannon & Bedois, who are well versed in Virginia law, can assist in making the process as efficient as possible. Contact or call us today at (757) 228-5529

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Shannon & Bedois, P.C. is located in Chesapeake, VA and serves clients in and around Chesapeake, Virginia Beach, Portsmouth, Norfolk, Fort Monroe, Suffolk, Carrollton, Hampton, Chesapeake City County, Hampton City County, Norfolk City County, Portsmouth City County, Suffolk City County, Virginia Beach City County.

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