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How does equitable distribution work?

On Behalf of | Nov 5, 2021 | Divorce |

During your divorce, the court will expect you to divide your property. In Virginia, the division of property occurs under the concept of equitable distribution.

The Virginia State Bar explains equitable distribution means a fair division of assets, but it may not mean an equal division.

Property categories

The court will always first categorize your property. It will only split marital property, which are assets you and your spouse both have a claim over because you acquired them during your marriage. Separate property is that which you obtained before marriage and maintained separately.

Separate property can become marital property in part or full. It is a complex process to categorize property. The court requires sound legal proof of ownership for a claim of separate property.


Once the court properly categorizes your property, it will divide the marital property. As mentioned, this may not occur equally. The court considers a range of factors, such as the value of your separate property and general financial status, when dividing assets.

It is possible for one spouse to get more property than the other. However, the court will generally try to ensure fairness in the overall value of assets you each receive.

The biggest thing to keep in mind about property division using equitable division is that you may not always get everything you want. In fact, you will very likely have to compromise. The end result should be favorable to you and your spouse, though.

Equitable division of property means the court tries to divide your marital property in a fair way that allows you both to end up on equal footing.


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