Division of property usually becomes one of the most contentious issues in a divorce. Both spouses want to move on from the divorce with their fair share of their work. If you are considering a divorce or are already in the middle of divorce proceedings, it’s important to know what steps are involved when dividing marital property in Virginia.
How Is Property Divided in a Divorce?
Under Virginia’s divorce law, marital property is subject to equitable distribution between the divorcing spouses. However, it’s important to note equitable distribution does not mean that property is divided equally between the spouses. Instead, a court ordering equitable distribution will seek to divide assets and liabilities fairly between spouses. Factors that the court will consider in equitable distribution include:
- The length of the marriage
- The financial contributions of each spouse to the marriage and family
- The respective earning capacities of the spouses
- The value of the assets in the marital estate
Marital property typically includes only the property that was acquired by either spouse during the marriage or acquired using marital funds, no matter who earned the income used to purchase the property or who holds title to the property.
Although a court can decide equitable distribution during a divorce case, the parties may divide their assets and liabilities through a negotiated agreement. This agreement may take the form of a prenuptial agreement executed prior to the marriage or a divorce settlement agreement executed prior to the spouses filing for divorce or during the divorce case.
Four Key Steps to Dividing Property in Virginia
Whether dividing property through a court order or through an agreement between the spouses, dividing property in a Virginia divorce involves four main steps:
- First, the spouses will need to identify all their assets and liabilities, both marital as well as those separately held by each spouse. This usually takes the form of an itemized list or schedule.
- Next, the spouses or the court will need to classify all assets and debts held by one or both of the spouses as either marital or separate. Virginia law presumes that property or debt acquired by either spouse during the marriage is marital in nature, while property acquired prior to the marriage or following separation is separate. However, a party can rebut this presumption by proving that property meets one of the exceptions to the presumption of marital property (for example, an inheritance) or by proving that separate property was commingled with and, therefore, converted into marital property.
- Next, the spouses or the court will need to value all the property and ascertain the balances on all liabilities as of the date of the parties’ separation. Subtracting the total of marital liabilities from the total value of marital assets equals the net value of the marital estate.
- Finally, assets and liabilities must be distributed. Suppose the parties have not reached a negotiated agreement as to distribution. In that case, the court will assign marital assets (or part of the value of assets), marital liabilities, and debt accounts to each spouse.
Each spouse walks away with a fair share of the marital estate based on their contributions to the marriage earning capacity.
How a Divorce Lawyer Could Help
A divorce lawyer from Invictus Law can help you defend your rights and interests when dividing property in your Virginia divorce by:
- Identifying and valuing all property and liabilities held by you and your spouse, especially if your spouse has tried to conceal assets from you
- Aggressively negotiating on your behalf to try to reach a settlement that ensures you have a fair distribution of the marital property
- Vigorously advocating on your behalf in court to fight for a divorce judgment that awards you your fair share of the property
Contact Invictus Law
When you are going through the process of property division in your divorce, you need a lion for a lawyer. Contact Invictus Law today for a consultation with one of our Virginia divorce attorneys to learn more about how our firm will fight for you and get you the results you deserve.