Distribution of Assets in a Virginia Divorce
If you are preparing for a Virginia divorce, you are likely wondering how assets are divided in the state. Some people ask whether Virginia is a community property state, which would mean assets are divided 50/50 in most cases. Virginia follows the equitable distribution rule, which means assets are distributed in a fair and equitable manner. It might mean the circuit court judge could award one spouse the vacation house and the other spouse the boat for example.
People are often confused on what constitutes marital property as opposed to separate property in a divorce. This is why you need to be represented by a knowledgeable Virginia divorce attorney who can tell you what is separate property versus marital property, and help protect your rights in a contested divorce.
Factors that Influence Marital Property Division
When it comes to the division of assets, the first thing that needs to occur is to determine what is marital versus separate property. Then its value must be determined, which is often done with information provided by both spouses. In the event spouses disagree on an asset’s value, or it is hard to come up with a value, you may need to use the services of a forensic accountant who specializes in asset valuation.
Once there is a value, the court will look at a number of other factors, like each spouse’s contributions to the marriage, how contributions were used, and what non-monetary contributions were made. Non-monetary contributions would be child-care, homemaking, or any other unpaid work. They will look at the source of the marital property, including how and when it was acquired.
Other factors taken into consideration include the length of the marriage, how old the spouses are, what health condition they are in, marital debts, encumbrances on the marital property, tax consequences to each spouse, etc.
Because Virginia recognizes at fault divorce, the family court will consider any “bad behavior” by a spouse. If one spouse was having an affair, abused their partner, committed a crime, and/or any other behavior that would fall under “at fault” causes for the divorce, the court will take that into consideration when deciding how property should be divided. If a spouse tried to depreciate marital property or spent a lot of marital funds on the party they were having an affair with, the court can take that into account as well. So, rest assured that if your spouse tried to deplete the bank account on purpose or destroyed something just to hurt you, the court will make sure they are held accountable.
Spousal Support is Decided After
The distribution of assets takes place first and then the court will look at whether spousal support is warranted. Just like with the distribution of assets, the court will look at any bad behavior, which means a spousal support award could be higher or lower depending on who was at fault.
Retaining a Leesburg Divorce Attorney
If you have questions about equitable distribution and/or you are planning on filing for divorce in Virginia, contact Whitbeck Cisneros McElroy PC at 703-997-4982 to schedule a consultation.