Virginia is what is known as an equitable distribution state. When a couple gets divorced in the Commonwealth of Virginia, they have numerous opportunities to decide between themselves how they will divide up their property. But when a couple cannot agree on how to divide up their property, Virginia law states that a judge must decide for them after hearing from both sides in court.
However, courts can only make decisions about how to divide up marital property, not separate property. Let’s take a look at what is considered marital property and what is considered separate property in Virginia.
What is Marital Property Under Virginia Law?
Marital property is considered to be property that belongs to both parties in a marriage. In other words, it is jointly held property. Marital property typically includes any property that was bought or acquired by both spouses while they were married.
For instance, if you worked a job and your income was deposited into a joint account, then any purchases made from that joint account would be considered marital property. So if you used money from that account to buy a car together, or a house, those assets would be considered marital property by a court.
Marital property is subject to Virginia’s equitable distribution laws, meaning that if a couple cannot come to an agreement about how to divide their property, then a judge will decide for them after a hearing. Each party is entitled to a portion of the total marital property.
However, when judges decide how the property should be divided, the division isn’t always fair. That’s why it is critical to consult with a seasoned Virginia divorce attorney if you and your partner cannot agree on how to split the marital property. A good Virginia divorce attorney will know how to advocate on your behalf for an acceptable division of martial property.
What is Separate Property Under Virginia Law?
Property that was bought, acquired, or otherwise obtained by one of the parties in the marriage prior to the marriage is considered separate property. Inherited property that was acquired during the course of the marriage is also technically considered separate property. Any items that were given as gifts to one of the parties in the marriage is also considered separate property. If one spouse was injured in an accident and subsequently obtained compensation, those funds would also be considered separate property.
Separate property is not governed by Virignia’s equitable distribution laws and cannot be divided up by a court. If, for instance, one party owned a vehicle before entering into the marriage, that spouse would retain the vehicle, as it would not be subjected to equitable distribution.
However, there are some circumstances where separate property can become marital property during the course of the marriage. If the property was maintained or financed by both parties, then it could be considered joint, marital property because both parties have a financial interest in the property.
Contact A Virginia Beach Divorce Attorney Today
We understand that dividing up property can be a challenging and often frustrating process. If you have questions about your rights under Virginia’s equitable distribution laws or need help navigating the process of dividing up marital property, the Virginia Beach divorce attorneys at Invictus Law can help. We have the knowledge and resources to offer you sound legal advice and to help you obtain your desired outcome. Contact us today for a consultation.