During your marriage, it is likely that you and your spouse bought a house, car, furniture, and other valuable items. If you decide to break-up, you will have to go through the difficult process of dividing up your marital assets and debts. The property division process will depend on where you live.
Virginia is an Equitable Distribution State
Virginia, as well as most other states, follow the laws of equitable distribution. Unlike community property states where the property is split 50/50, judges in equitable distribution states will consider various factors when determining the most fair and equitable way of dividing the property. Some of these factors include:
- Length of the marriage
- Income and earning capacity of each spouse
- Age and health of each spouse
- Contributions from one spouse toward the other spouse’s education or earning capacity
- Child custody arrangements
- Economic misconduct during the marriage
Marital vs. Separate Property
Not all property is subject to division under equitable distribution laws. Before dividing property, courts will have to decide whether each asset qualifies as separate or marital property.
- Separate property refers to the property belonging to one spouse. This can be property the spouse brought into the marriage or an inheritance or gift intended for only one spouse.
- Marital property refers to any property purchased during the marriage with marital funds. Marital homes (if both spouses names are on the title), retirement accounts (even only one spouse is named) with funds accumulated during the marriage, and joint bank accounts are common examples of marital property.
Once the court has categorized your property, the property will need to be valued and then distributed. A family law attorney in your area can help evaluate your case and help you fight for certain assets.