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You have to be under separate roofs for 6 months and while someone may claim separation and under the same roof, it requires a witness to prove and the courts rarely go for that and will insist you be living separately and apart under different roofs. You can file the uncontested divorce though without an attorney (here is the VA law guide uncontested divorce guide with form links as well: http://www.valegalaid.org/resource/lawhelp-interactive-no-fault-divorce-intervie).
You use the date you actually lived separate and apart as the beginning date and 6 months from that is when the divorce can be filed. Alimony is not mandatory, it is up to the parties or the court. If the party does not want to pay alimony, then you are likely going to have a contested divorce, because in a 25 year marriage, typically a lifetime alimony can be awarded.
Assets, including pensions, are divided 50-50 as well and you need to decide who will get what.
If the two of you can come to an agreement on alimony and the property division, great, you can put that in writing and file that agreement with the divorce. If you cannot come to an agreement, you need to get a local attorney to represent you to protect your rights to those benefits.
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Once the person leaves the home, that is a separation and the party remaining in the residence can prevent their return if they are not reconciling. The party remaining in the home should be the one filing the papers as soon as the other person leaves the marital home asking the court for a legal separation from bed and board and also a motion for possession of the marital home to keep the other party from trying to come back.
The party residing in the home does not have to start supporting themselves without a court order. The parties still owe a duty to support each other and the party leaving the house is liable to continue paying their share of the bills until the court says otherwise.
NEITHER party can have a relationship until the court issues an order of legal separation.