The divorce process is far from simple. There are a lot of issues to address, which can take time. For many couples in Virginia, dividing property is one of the most challenging parts of the divorce process. You may find that you and your spouse struggle to figure out who gets to keep what or have disagreements about what is actually marital property.
There are two modes of property division recognized in divorced proceedings: community property and equitable distribution. Virginia is an equitable distribution state. This means that the final property division settlement will not necessarily be a 50/50 split of the marital property but should be fair to both parties.
What is marital property?
Any assets acquired during the marriage by either party is generally considered marital property. So, income, real estate, retirement accounts and furnishings — among various other things — qualify as marital property, regardless of which spouse paid for or into these things. There are a few exceptions to this, however. The following may still be separate property:
- Inherited assets
- A business
Whether these assets are separate or marital property depends on several factors. When it comes to inherited assets or gifts, how they are used — whether they were kept separate or commingled — will determine if they should be personal or shared property. When it comes to a business, the court will look at the effort, time and monetary contributions of the owner’s spouse to determine if it is separate or joint property.
Two ways to reach a property division settlement
There are two ways to reach a property division settlement when going through a divorce. The first is negotiating terms in private or with legal assistance. The second is by going to court. The first option is ideal, as it gives you and your spouse a greater say in the overall settlement terms. If you go to court, a judge will get the final say, and you may not like the results.
Don’t walk away with less than you deserve
It is tempting, at times, to accept whatever settlement your spouse proposes to get your divorce over with as soon as possible. When dividing property, though, this approach may hurt you in the end. With help, you don’t have to walk away with less than you are entitled to or deserve.