For fans of Monty Python’s Flying Circus, the weapons of the Spanish Inquisition — as rattled off by Cardinal Ximinez — famously climb from one to five items in the course of a few seconds. In separating before divorce in Virginia, go into the process knowing the five cardinal rules with no second-guessing.

Married or Divorced

Virginia does not recognize “legal” separation. You’re either married or you’re divorced. Separation is a legal step leading to divorce, but it carries no particular legal privileges. That means:

  • Getting your finances in order and keep them straight while separated
  • Recognizing that, until a Circuit Court rules on your divorce, you are married
  • Avoiding problems during separation by stirring up drama, opening yourself up to charges of adultery, arguing with your separating spouse, or developing bad habits (gambling, abusing substances, committing felonies; the usual and sundry sins)

Is that three rules or one?

We’ll call it Cardinal Rule #1: Separation means you’re still married and still bear legal responsibilities.


No, no; not dating like going to dinner and taking in a flick at Hadensville, Virginia’s Goochland Drive-In Theater. Our first Cardinal Rule put the kibosh on dating while separated because it can open you up to charges of adultery, a fault ground for divorce.

We mean dating the separation from a specific, verifiable, date you and she agree upon. The easiest way? Use the date of your property settlement agreement.

Whether done online through a handy Do-It-Yourself website or through the services of a pricey attorney, the property settlement agreement (separation agreement) is a legally approved document that starts the countdown to divorce in the Commonwealth.

Cardinal Rule #2: Know thy separation date. 


Natural Tunnel State Park in Duffield, Virginia has within it a wide chasm between steep, limestone walls. Think of separation as that chasm. A cardinal rule of separation in the great state of Virginia is to recognize all the things now separating you and your spouse:

  • No sex between you two — of any kind, duration, kink, or degree (no “first base, second base” nonsense, either)
  • No gifts, assistance, loans, favors, courtesies, or kindnesses between you two — No picking up her dry cleaning, even if her silk blouse is ready when your suits are; no second six-pack when you pick up one for yourself; no lottery tickets; no surprise $20 bills tucked in the napkin holder
  • No repairs, cooking, lifting, sweeping, cleaning, or getting in behind the refrigerator to clean the dust off where those coil thingies are — You and she can do nothing for each other
  • No waffling — Either you separate and live apart for the required time, or you don’t; you cannot start the separation clock, pause it because you think you might reconcile, and then pick up where you left off

The Chasm of Separation is Cardinal Rule #3: Pretend she does not exist. 


The 2003 hit, Anger Management, had everyone spouting Jack Nicholson’s nonsensical, anger-reducing phrase, “Goosfraba.” Do yourself a favor and find some mantra to mutter while dealing with your separating spouse.

A fast, efficient DIY online separation agreement only works if you both agree on everything. If you ignite in white-hot fury over every little thing she says, you will have to go the route of either a contested divorce or a fault-grounds divorce.

Save yourself time, money, and trips to the ER by keeping your blood pressure in check. Avoid arguments, conflicts, angry missives, raised voices, and all of that. Work to the goal of separating and divorcing cleanly, civilly, and respectfully.

Cardinal Rule #4: Keep Calm and Get Along. 

Nice Courtroom You Have Here

Cardinal Rule #5 will save you a whole heck of a lot of money. Stay out of Virginia’s courts as much as possible. Pursue an online, DIY separation agreement that the Circuit Courts will OK ASAP.

As soon as you contest a divorce, accuse her of fault grounds, disagree over children, or turn the matter over to family law attorneys, you lose control of your separation and your bank balance.

Cardinal Rule #5: Keep clear of Circuit Court and conserve your cash. 

There you go. Five Cardinal Rules, no add-ons, and all are easy to remember. They may not be as funny as a Monty Python sketch, but they will help you to get through separation and get on with your life.

Free yourself from all those separated/divorced quandaries; come to With the expertly crafted tools of this site exclusively tailored to Virginia law, you and your spouse can build and print out your own property settlement agreement. Why struggle, why scramble, why spend, and why suffer when you can do the paperwork yourselves?