In this blog post, learn more about diving property and debt during a divorce.
One of the most complicated and contentious aspects of any divorce revolves around the question of who gets what following a divorce. When it comes to determining the distribution of property and debt during the divorce process, the most important questions to ask are: (1) Is the property classified as separate or marital? and (2) If the property is determined to be marital, what is the process for determining distribution between the spouses?
Before the task of dividing property can be accomplished, we must first look to whether the specific property is marital, and therefore subject to division, or separate, which remains with the rightful owner and outside the scope of division. So, what exactly is separate and marital property?
All assets and debts deemed to be marital in nature, are then divided between the spouses based on the theory of Equitable Distribution. Equitable distribution does not necessarily mean an “equal” division, but instead a “fair” division of those marital assets and debt. As in life, equitable distribution holds that some factors make the ownership of property inherently unequal. In determining what is a fair, and therefore equitable, distribution among the parties, Virginia judges consider the following factors under the statuary code, (Va. Code § 20-107.3):
As you can see from the above factors, there are many aspects of a marriage that are considered that may result in property being divided in a manner that is not exactly an even 50/50 split. Based on these considerations, a judge may choose to award one spouse more or less of a marital portion depending on the circumstances surrounding the marriage. For example, some situations that may influence a court in awarding an unequal split could include:
Obviously, this is not an exhaustive list of the types of scenarios that could result in an unequal split between the spouses, but it does provide some common examples of the types of things that the judge looks at when making an equitable distribution determination. The factors will vary on a case-by-case basis in each different marriage, and therefore, no exact mathematical equation can be employed across the board in determining how marital property and debt will be allocated at the conclusion of a marriage.
Although this is in no way inclusive of all the legal implications that may arise, you now have a basic overview of the process of classifying and distributing property during a divorce case in Virginia. To ensure that all of your interests, and property rights, are being protected, you should seek the assistance of a skilled family law attorney. As you can see from the above overview, the classification, tracing, and ultimate distribution of marital assets and debt can be extremely complex and complicated, especially in highly contentious separations.
With that being said, it is imperative that you have an attorney that has the extensive knowledge and expertise necessary to navigate through these complicated issues. Call the experienced attorneys at Strentz, Greene & Coleman, PLC, and let us help in guiding you through this process.