One of the most challenging parts of going through a divorce is figuring out who will get what in the end. This is true no matter the number of assets you and your spouse have. It is also true no matter the value of these assets.
The simplest way of dealing with the distribution of assets in Virginia is for you and your future ex to determine on your own how you will divide the property between yourselves. However, as the majority of couples cannot amicably determine how to handle their property division issues, the situation often ends up in court. Either way, understanding your rights and state law when it comes to the distribution of property is critical.
In Virginia, courts follow the principle of equitable distribution, which means that the judge will decide what is equitable — or what is fair — rather than simply dividing the assets 50/50. As a result, the spouse who earns more money just may end up getting two-thirds of the marital property, whereas the other spouse gets one-third of the assets. To facilitate the splitting, the court will typically add up the value of your marital estate and then grant both you and your spouse percentages of the estate.
Marital property vs. separate property
The property that the court will divide during divorce is your marital property — or all property that you and your spouse accumulated during your marriage. This includes debts as well, unless a debtor has addressed the loan to just you or your spouse.
Separate property will not undergo property division during divorce. This includes any assets you or your spouse acquired before you got married, court awards, gifts, pension proceeds or inheritances. It also includes any property that you or your spouse purchased by using separate property, such as your own inheritance money.
If you and your future ex bought an asset using a mixture of marital property and separate property, the court will likely determine that it is marital property, which means it will undergo division.
Whether you go to trial or are able to sort out property distribution issues at the negotiation table, a qualified attorney in Virginia will work to protect your right to any property that legally belongs to you.