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Domestic Relations – Divorce – Spouse’s Dependent Visa

A Fairfax Circuit Court denies husband’s request for a divorce on the grounds of desertion or a one-year separation, based on his wife’s continued presence in India, because wife contends husband has refused to renew her H-4 Dependent Visa, and she is not allowed to enter the United States to contest the divorce.

This case is no longer ex parte because wife has properly contested the divorce. The court also rejects husband’s claim that the reason for wife’s absence is irrelevant in determining whether to award a divorce for a one-year separation pursuant to Va. Code Sec. 20-91(9). Under Virginia law, a party who comes into equity must come with clean hands, and that party must remain free of any inequitable or wrongful conduct with respect to the transaction or subject matter sued on.

The court finds that husband does not come to court with clean hands, and he is not entitled to the relief sought. He has actively prohibited wife from entering the U.S. to contest this divorce action. His actions are clearly wrongful, and the doctrine of unclean hands applies in this case.

Also, entry of the final decree submitted by husband would foreclose wife from seeking spousal support or equitable distribution. The court finds it inequitable to enter a final decree of divorce when wife has expressed a desire to litigate her case and entering the final decree would foreclose her from contesting issues of support.

Husband’s request for a divorce pursuant to Va. Code Sec. 20-91(9) is denied.

Subramanian v. Ravichandran (Thacher, J.) No. CL 2010-4118, Dec. 6, 2010; Fairfax Cir.Ct.; Robert Zaniel for plaintiff; Ranjeetha Ravichandran, defendant. VLW 010-8-227, 5 pp.

VLW 010-8-227

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