For Better or For Worse in Virginia

For Better or For Worse in Virginia

The traditional, Christian, wedding, and ceremonial vows go something like this: “Do you take this person to be your husband or wife to live together after God’s ordinance – in the holy estate of matrimony? Will you love him or her, comfort him or her, honor and keep him or her, in sickness and in health, for richer, for poorer, for better, for worse, in sadness and in joy, to cherish and continually bestow upon him or her your heart’s deepest devotion, forsaking all others, keep yourself only unto him or her as long as you both shall live?”

In our modern day, these traditional vows have been often modified to fit the nature and personalities of the participants, but in some conservative areas of our country, these vows are still a time honored tradition. The tradition grew out of a Judeo-Christian influence through Christian churches that hold to both Old and New Testament biblical teachings. That the words “God’s ordinance” are used in the traditional ceremony is not by accident. Most Christians view marriage as a Holy sacrament that is ordained by God himself. An ordinance is a law, by definition, so, many Christian groups view this ordinance as a covenant or contract before God between two consenting adults. Since 84 percent of the United States population considers themselves to be affiliated with Christianity in some way, it is very probable you are familiar with this traditional concept on marriage, and you may even know someone who used similar vows in their wedding ceremony.

Our current laws on the legality of marriage has certainly been influenced by Judeo-Christian values throughout the United States. Fault divorce is what has come out of such a background. No-fault divorce in the United States did not come about until California passed their law on January 1, 1970. a No-fault divorce is the dissolution of a marriage requiring neither a showing of wrong-doing of either party nor any evidentiary proceedings at all. Since the first No-fault law passed in California, all the states except New York has passed some type of No-fault statute. Although a No-fault divorce is readily available in most states today, Fault divorces are still a common occurrence simply because the two parties cannot always agree on how their property and children are to be divided when the divorce is final.

When a Fault divorce occurs, the two opposing spouses are required to go to court before a judge or a jury. There are still eleven states that allow divorces to go to jury under certain circumstances. Only Texas, today, allows a jury to decide the fate of all the ramifications of divorce including the custody of children. Before a divorce can occur in places like Norfolk, Virginia Beach, Newport News and in other cities around Virginia, the reason for a Fault divorce has to be stated on a legal document entitled Complaint for Divorce, and then filed in the local court of jurisdiction. The only legal reasons allowed for a Fault divorce in Virginia are: adultery; sodomy or buggery committed outside the marriage; where either of the parties subsequent to the marriage has been convicted of a felony, sentenced to confinement for more than one year and confined for such felony subsequent to such conviction, and cohabitation has not been resumed after knowledge of such confinement; and where either party has been guilty of cruelty, caused reasonable apprehension of bodily hurt, or willfully deserted or abandoned the other.

Before No-fault divorces were so common, our nation relied on our Judeo-Christian roots to understand what we considered to be acceptable reasons for divorce, but today, with so much diversity within our borders, marriage has become a battleground for the separation of church and state. Our roots has taught us that marriage is a covenant contract that should be legally binding, and our existing laws reflect what our roots have taught us. Therefore, we perceive the marriage ceremony, regardless of who officiates over it, as a legal binding contract between two consenting adults, and it takes a legal action to undo what has been legally done. Likewise, there should be no wonder why Fault divorce reasons in our laws also reflect our roots. For instance, notice the similarities between the traditional Christian wedding vows and the legal reasons for divorce in Virginia. The contractual promise to forsake all others and keep yourself only to your spouse for as long as you both shall live may be broken for adultery, sodomy and buggery outside the marriage, and willfully deserting the other. The contractual promise to love and cherish your spouse may be broken by being guilty of cruelty or abuse. Since the marital vow has always been a form of legal and binding contract, should we always take our spouses for better or for worse, or better yet, should we vow to do so without legal recourse?

Maybe you and your spouse have come to that place where you think things have gotten a lot worse than you could have possibly imagined, you think there is reason enough to divorce, and you cannot agree on how to go about ending your marriage in a friendly and No-fault way. If this is the case, you both are probably going to need legal advice. Contact us right now at, and we will help you find a divorce lawyer in your area that can provide you with the legal help you are seeking.