21001 Sycolin Road
Suite 340
Ashburn, Virginia 20147

Law Office of Li-Shann Durst

(703) 443-4762

Divorce & Separation

Family Law

What is a Collaborative Divorce?

  • Divorce conducted with respect and dignity.
  • Divorce issues worked out without going to court.
  • Divorce with less stress and anxiety.

Read more about the Collaborative method.

Marital Agreements

To end a marriage in Virginia, the law requires valid reasons or grounds for the divorce, and these must be proven to the court even if the parties agree that a marriage should end. When using negotiation, mediation or collaborative law to settle the issues in your divorce, a Marital Settlement Agreement or Property Settlement Agreement will be prepared reflecting the grounds and terms of the divorce. A divorce lawyer will ensure that your agreement is likely to be accepted by the court and that you are not overlooking any important issues that could arise down the road.

A Marital Settlement Agreement or Property Settlement Agreement is a written contract between you and your spouse that sets forth the rights, duties, and obligations that arise out of the divorce. Your divorce attorney can negotiate and draft a fair and reasonable Marital Settlement Agreement or Property Settlement Agreement.



Divorce can be a difficult time for all those involved. Trusted and experienced divorce lawyer, Li-Shann Durst helps you navigate challenges, addresses any concerns, and ensures your best interests are at the center of the entire process. The Law Office of Li-Shann Durst is a family law firm focused on issues such as divorce, spousal support, child support, custody, parenting time, division of marital assets and allocation of marital debt.  These matters may be resolved by agreement outside of court through negotiation, mediation or collaborative law. If there is no agreement, then the issues must be decided by a judge before a final divorce can be entered.

A divorce is the legal dissolution of a marriage and places the husband and wife in a position to conduct his or her affairs independently.  A divorce attorney helps his or her client navigate the difficult and emotional issues involved in the divorce process.  A divorce lawyer will prepare and file the necessary paperwork involved in obtaining a divorce.  You will know your divorce is final when you have obtained your “Final Order of Divorce” or “Divorce Decree” signed by a judge.


Virginia does not have a formal procedure for obtaining the status of legal separation. This means, a couple will go from being married to living apart, with or without a separation agreement. The safest course of action is to formalize the terms of your separation by using a "separation agreement" or obtaining temporary orders for support, custody, parenting time etc. while separated.

Living "separate and apart" as referenced in the Code of Virginia § 20-91 means the parties are living “physically” separate and at least one of the parties has the “intent” to end the marriage and have communicate that fact to the other spouse. Virginia law does allow spouses to live separate and apart under the same roof; however, there are very strict guidelines for this process. 

Separation agreements are contracts which can be used to settle the rights, interests, and obligations of separating or divorcing parties. In Virginia, separation agreements are commonly referred to as “marital settlement agreements” or “property settlement agreements.” Even with a separation agreement in place, the parties are not considered “legally separated.” Again, Virginia does not have a procedure for obtaining the status of being legally separated.

Spousal Support

A husband and wife also have a duty to financially support each other.  Spousal support, also known as alimony, is paid to an individual by their former spouse after they divorce or separate. Virginia’s spousal support laws give the courts authority to award “rehabilitative alimony” and is not awarded to punish a guilty spouse. Rather, spousal support is given to lessen the financial impact of divorce on the party who is less financially independent.

Property Distribution

In a divorce, the judge will make a determination as to the classification of the property acquired by the parties as to which is marital, separate, or part separate and part marital.  Virginia statutes provide for the “equitable distribution” of marital property.  Under Virginia’s system of equitable distribution, the court is not required to divide the marital property on an equal basis.  Instead, the court will consider various factors such as the monetary and non-monetary contribution of each of the parties to the well-being of the family and to the acquisition and care of the marital property, when determining how to divide the marital assets.

To find out how we can help with your family law case, please call our Ashburn, VA office at (703) 443-4762 or Schedule a Consultation.