In Virginia, you can file for divorce based on fault grounds. Fault based divorces are where one spouse alleges the other party was at fault for the breakdown of the marriage.
One of the fault grounds one can allege to begin a divorce case is “cruelty.” The Virginia statute provides for a divorce, “where either party has been guilty of cruelty, caused reasonable apprehension of bodily hurt, or willfully deserted or abandoned the other, such divorce may be decreed to the innocent party after a period of one year from the date of such act.”
You can file for a fault-based divorce for cruelty after separation from your spouse. You must wait one year from your date of separation to obtain a divorce based on cruelty.
What constitutes cruelty for purposes of obtaining divorce?
Cruelty can be any act involving violence, force, or threat that results in bodily injury or places one in reasonable apprehension of death, sexual assault, or bodily injury. Such act includes, but is not limited to, any forceful detention, stalking, or criminal sexual assault.
You do not need to allege physical acts of harm or threats for cruelty. Cruelty can also be verbal and emotional abuse, such as abusive language, insults, and humiliation.