For spouses going through a divorce, the division of property can be one of the most contentious issues endured throughout the process. It is not just about the material items or the money, but the fact that you likely worked for quite some time to earn what you now have and, rightfully, want to ensure you do not end up parting with something that is your personal property.
First, it is important to understand that states can differ in how property is divided. Virginia is an equitable distribution state and, unlike community property states where both spouses have equal rights to all marital property, this type of approach is not necessarily 50-50.
What is Marital Property?
Marital property is generally defined as any property or assets obtained throughout the marriage. Several factors are used to determine how it is distributed, including the length of the marriage, each spouse’s assets and liabilities, tax consequences of property division that each spouse might face, and more.
What is Separate Property?
In Virginia, separate property includes:
- Inheritances acquired before or during the marriage
- Any gifts received before or during the marriage
- Compensation received for a personal injury, except lost marital earnings
Separate property is not subject to distribution. However, if your spouse disputes your claim that something is separate property, you will have to prove otherwise. The best way to accomplish this is through documented paperwork. If you do not have such documentation and you and your spouse cannot agree to, it will be up to the court to distinguish what is marital property and what is separate property, then distribute it equitably. In some cases, it will be necessary to have an appraiser determine the value of assets.
Exceptions to Equitable Distribution
There are some circumstances in which the court will make an exception to equitable distribution. For example, if your spouse wastefully dissipated assets, the court would likely divide assets and property in a way that adequately compensated you for such actions. If your spouse was a gambler and lost vast amounts of money, or used marital funds to purchase lavish gifts for a lover, these would be examples of wasteful dissipation.
Fairfax Property Division Attorneys
If you are in the midst of a divorce and are concerned about protecting personal or separate property, you need a skilled Fairfax divorce attorney to assist you during this difficult time. At Malinowski Hubbard, our legal team has successfully represented clients in the negotiation of comprehensive agreements to divide their assets. Do not hesitate to reach out to us today.
Call our office at (703) 935-4222 to schedule a case evaluation.