Among the challenges couples face during a divorce, property division is one area that is particularly rife with conflict. You need highly qualified legal representation to protect your rights and interests in any property division matter. I can help you resolve your property disputes quickly and minimize your legal costs. For more than a decade, I have helped clients resolve property division matters and have developed property settlement agreements that effectively achieve their goals and protect their interests.
Marital Property vs. Separate Property
Virginia’s property division laws make a clear distinction between marital property and separate property. Usually, only marital property is divided in divorce. Marital property is defined as assets and debts acquired during the marriage.
Virginia recognizes three basic marital property forms, including:
- Property that is part marital and part separate
- Property where the title is in both spouse’s names
- Property acquired by either spouse while married that is not separate property
Separate property can include:
- Property acquired before the marriage
- Gifts and inheritances acquired during the marriage
- Property acquired in exchange for separate property
- Any increase in the value of separate property
Most anticipated future assets and income, with the exception of pensions, are not included in the equitable distribution of property.
To protect your interests, I will carefully go over details about your property, including when you purchased it and its approximate worth. Gathering account numbers, serial numbers and other information before you see a divorce attorney can save you a lot of time and money. Thorough understanding of this information is critical to devising a fair marital property division agreement.
Equitable Distribution of Property in Virginia
In Virginia, the system of property division is equitable distribution. This means a couples’ marital assets, financial and non-financial, are fairly divided. Asset distribution may be mandated by a court if the parties are not able to come to some form of agreement on their own. Should the matter go to court, a judge will determine the precise status of all assets and debts in order to sort out what assets and debts are marital. From there, the court determines an estimated value and divides the total between the parties. It is important to note that equitable division does not mean equal division, but a just and fair one.
Courts consider many factors when dividing property, including the length of the marriage, prior marriages, and the age, health, income, education and employability of the parties involved. Other factors typically include spousal income, living arrangements and home value, and the estimated value of the debts and assets. The court also inquires as to whether one spouse paid for the other’s education or training, whether employee benefits are available, where each spouse works and the financial position of both parties.
Property division is difficult, as there are many rules and regulations involved. I am here to help you understand these issues, and strive to assist you in understanding your rights, so that you may make informed decisions about your situation. Divorce is not easy. My goal is to make it less stressful for you.
My law firm focuses on your family. Contact me at my Vienna, Virginia, law office to discuss your case. I am always happy to speak with you.