Virginia Assets and Property Division Lawyers
When a couple gets divorced, they must decide how to divide their assets and marital property. Some states operate under the community property model, which means that a judge reviews all property that was bought by the couple while they were married and splits it between the two parties.
Virginia operates under the equitable distribution model. Under this model, property and assets may not be divided half to one party and half to the other. A judge will examine the larger picture of the couple’s finances and, based on that, determine how these property and assets should be divided. The judge’s job is to ensure the split is fair, even if it is not 50/50.
If you are going through a divorce and have concerns about the way your property will be divided, the Virginia divorce attorneys at Taylor, Taylor & Taylor, Inc. can help. We understand how stressful and emotionally taxing the divorce process can be, which is why we are proud to offer our clients calm, compassionate, and experienced representation. We can help expedite the process, resolve disputes, protect your rights, and advocate for your interests.
Reach out today to schedule a consultation with one of our seasoned divorce lawyers in Virginia.
Equitable Distribution in Virginia
The Commonwealth of Virginia follows the equitable distribution model of property division, in which marital property and assets are divided fairly between two divorcing spouses — though “fair” does not necessarily mean that the total amount each spouse gets will be equal to the other. It’s important to note that, although the court can make a ruling in any given case, divorcing spouses have the opportunity to determine a fair division of property on their own during the divorce process. A judge will only decide for the couple if they cannot agree on what is fair.
What Types of Property can be Divided?
The courts can only rule on the distribution of marital property. Separate property is excluded from this process. Separate property includes any property that a spouse obtained prior to entering the marriage. It could also include specific property that was acquired during the marriage, such as gifts and inheritances.
Marital property generally includes the majority of property that either or both of the two spouses obtained during the marriage depending on the length of the marriage. Marital property might include:
- A home that the couple bought together
- Other real estate owned by the couple
- Cars and boats purchased during the marriage
- Investments made while married
- Income, dividends, and retirement
If either spouse owns separate property, that property will not be subject to division. But the court can rule on any property and assets that were acquired during the marriage, with a few exceptions, unless the couple can reach an agreement regarding a fair division of the property.
What Does a Judge Consider When Dividing Property?
The court will take a number of factors into consideration when dividing marital property. First, a judge will need to review all property and assets owned by each spouse, and determine which property is separate and which is marital. The judge will then place a value on the property.
The court will divide marital property based on considerations such as:
- The length of time the couple was legally married
- At what point each piece of property was obtained and how it was obtained
- Each spouse’s contribution to the marriage, such as earning income, caring for kids, or providing domestic services
- Each spouse’s financial circumstances, including debts, liabilities, and future employment opportunities
- Each spouse’s age
- Each spouse’s general health, both physical and mental
- Tax obligations regarding the property
This is not an exhaustive list, and a court may consider other factors depending on your specific case.
The court may also factor in misconduct if one of the spouses is alleging fault in the divorce. For instance, if one of the spouses had an affair which led to the divorce, the court may take that into consideration when deciding how to divide marital property. Other grounds for a fault-based divorce that could impact the division of property include conviction of a crime, physical or verbal abuse, and abandonment.
If one of the spouses destroyed or damaged marital property, causing its value to decrease, that could affect the division of property as well. For example, a spouse who purposefully broke the windows on the family car in an act of rage could consequently receive less of the marital property.
Contact a Virginia Divorce Lawyer Today
Divorce can be messy, particularly if there are property disputes that cannot be resolved without getting a court involved. The Virginia divorce lawyers at Taylor, Taylor & Taylor have the experience and skills to defend your rights to your property and fight for the best possible outcome in your case.
Contact us today to discuss your case and learn about how we can help.