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Property division in a Virginia divorce

Virginia is an “equitable distribution” state, meaning each asset is evaluated individually and may not be divided equally. Virginia is not a “community property” state. In community property states, the property is divided equally in a divorce.

During a divorce, the courts decide which property is owned by both spouses, and which is owned by the individual as separate property. Sometimes property is disputed in a divorce as to whether it is separate or marital property. Additionally, the criteria used to divide property is often misunderstood.

What constitutes separate property?

Many circumstances place property or assets in the separate property category. Assets that were possessed before the marriage are often considered separate property, as well as inherited items and third-party gifts. If an asset was purchased with sums of money that were acquired before the marriage, it too can be considered separate property.

What constitutes marital property?

Marital property can be anything that was purchased during the marriage or an asset or family-owned business that was maintained and improved by the parties.

How is marital property divided in a divorce?

There are several factors involved in the property division process of a divorce. Here are a few factors that the courts consider when making their decision:

  • Length of marriage: How long a couple has been married is a factor considered by the court.

  • Age and health: Property division can be affected by factors such as age and health conditions.

  • Contributions: Each party's monetary and nonmonetary contributions to the marriage are considered.

The above list is just the beginning of what courts take into consideration during a divorce. There are many factors that go into the decision-making process of property division.

To make sure that your rights are protected during the property division phase of a divorce, it can be helpful to have legal counsel that is experienced in Virginia family law and divorce.


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