Unfortunately, marriages often end in divorce, and when they do, couples have to decide how to divide their assets. Sometimes, couples can reach a mutual agreement without having to battle it out in court. However, if a couple cannot agree on how they would like to divide their marital property, a judge will decide for them after reviewing the couple’s assets. “Marital property” refers to property that was acquired by the couple during the marriage.
If you have questions about how marital assets are divided in Virginia, an experienced divorce attorney from Hardt Law, P.L.L.C. can help you understand how the process works. We know how stressful and emotionally challenging going through a divorce can be. Our Virginia Beach divorce attorney can help you navigate divorce proceedings, iron out disputes with your spouse, and aggressively work to keep the assets you want when your case goes to court. Contact us at (757) 962-5588 for a free consultation.
Virginia Follows an Equitable Distribution Model
Virginia uses an equitable distribution theory to divide marital property. To accomplish equitable distribution, a judge must divide a couple’s assets in a way that is fair to both parties. Many couples assume that equitable distribution means their marital assets will be divided 50-50. While judges do prefer to split marital assets as evenly as possible, they need not divide everything down the middle as long as the couple comes out of the divorce with assets that represent a fair value for each party.
What Factors a Judge Will Consider When Dividing Marital Assets
Judges typically consider the following factors when dividing marital assets:
- The amount of time you and your spouse were married
- When and how each piece of marital property was obtained
- Each spouse’s contributions to the marriage, including financial contributions, household services, and taking care of children
- Each spouse’s age
- Each spouse’s physical and mental health
- Each spouse’s financial situation and debts
- Property tax obligations
If your divorce is fault-based, the court may also consider misconduct when dividing property. For example, if you are divorcing your spouse on the grounds of abandonment, you may be entitled to receive more marital property than your spouse. If either you or your spouse destroyed or damaged a piece of marital property, the judge might also factor that in when dividing property.
Types of Assets that Can Be Divided
In Virginia, the only type of property that courts can divide is marital property. Courts cannot divide separate property during the divorce process. Separate property is any property that you or your spouse owned prior to entering the marriage, although some types of property acquired during the marriage can also be considered separate property, including gifts and inheritances.
Common types of marital property that can be divided include:
- The family home
- Vehicles and boats
- Land and other real estate
- Investments made during the marriage
- Retirement accounts
- Bank accounts
Ideally, you and your spouse will be able to agree on how you’d like to divide your marital property without having to get a judge involved. Judges will usually approve a settlement agreement that both spouses have agreed to. However, if you and your spouse cannot agree on how you’d like your property to be divided, it may be necessary for a court to intervene.
Contact a Virginia Beach Divorce Lawyer Today
Going through a divorce can be painful, and disputes over property division certainly don’t make the process any easier. The Virginia Beach divorce lawyer of Hardt Law, P.L.L.C. can help you resolve conflict and negotiate a favorable settlement agreement with your spouse. If needed, we will also protect your property rights in court. Contact us today at (757) 962-5588 for a confidential consultation.