Virginia uses the concept of equitable distribution in divorce proceedings. This means that when two people divorce in Virginia, the court divides their marital property and assets in a manner it deems “equitable.” Let’s take a look at the concept of equitable distribution and what it means for divorcing couples in the Commonwealth.
What Is Equitable Distribution in Virginia?
Equitable distribution means that you divide all marital property in a manner the court deems fair and equitable, though this does not necessarily mean an entirely even split. To achieve the equitable distribution of marital property, the court may order the transfer of real or personal property, order the sale of assets, or grant a monetary award from one spouse to the other. The court considers various factors like these when allocating assets and debts equitably.
Marital vs. Separate Property
In Virginia, a couple’s property upon divorce is classified as marital, separate, or partially marital and partially separate. Marital property is subject to equitable distribution and refers to jointly-owned property and other property obtained from the date of marriage through the date of separation. Separate property is all property acquired by one spouse before marriage or after separation. It can also include property obtained during the marriage by inheritance or gift (other than a gift by a spouse).
Gifts from one spouse to another are considered marital property. If an asset is partially marital and partially separate property, special classification rules apply to determine which portion is marital and which is separate. Only the marital portion of mixed assets is subject to equitable distribution. Courts will also classify and divide any marital debt the same way it divides marital property.
Factors That Influence Property Division in Divorce
When dividing assets in a divorce, Virginia courts consider several factors to determine what is fair and equitable. These factors include:
- Contributions of each party to the well-being of the family, including non-monetary contributions such as homemaking, child-care services, and other unpaid work
- Contributions of each party to the acquisition, care, and maintenance of marital property
- Duration of the marriage
- Ages and physical and mental condition of the parties
- Circumstances and factors which contributed to the dissolution of the marriage
- How and when the couple acquired specific items of marital property
- Debts and liabilities of each spouse
- Circumstances and factors which contributed to the divorce
- Tax consequences to each party
- Any other factors deemed appropriate by the court to reach an equitable distribution
How a Virginia Divorce Attorney Can Help
If you are going through a divorce in Virginia, Hardt Law, P.L.L.C., can provide valuable assistance. A Virginia divorce attorney can help you understand your rights and obligations under the equitable distribution law and assist you in negotiating a settlement that is fair to both parties.
In addition, a skilled divorce lawyer can represent you in court, if necessary, and protect your interests during the entire divorce process. An attorney can also advise you on tax implications, asset protection, and other legal matters related to your divorce. The right Virginia divorce lawyer can help you protect your interests throughout the divorce process.
Speak With a Virginia Divorce Lawyer
If you are considering divorce in Virginia and want to understand how the state’s equitable distribution law may impact property division, an experienced attorney can help. Our skilled legal team can help you understand your legal rights and develop a plan of action tailored to your unique situation. At Hardt Law, P.L.L.C., we provide personalized legal representation to clients throughout Virginia facing divorce and other family law matters. Contact us today for an initial legal consultation.