Dividing property in a marriage is one of the most difficult parts of divorce. It can be highly contentious and involve hidden assets. The more property you have, the more complex the process becomes. All this may cause you to worry about how much your ex will get in the divorce, especially if you feel he or she does not deserve a fair share due to being responsible for the split, abusive or deceptive.
The reality is that your ex will get more than you want to give up. However, Virginia is an equitable distribution state. This means that property division is not automatically 50/50. Instead, many factors determine the fair amount for each party, as well as the need for and the amount of alimony.
Community vs. separate property
First, you each get to retain whatever assets belong solely to you. Separate property is that which you acquired before the marriage or after separation. However, commingling of separate and marital property can forfeit this distinction unless you have solid documentation of an asset’s origin and subsequent transactions. Also, for any personal assets that your spouse contributed to, such as a business, the increase in value becomes community property.
As for marital property and debt, you two can negotiate the distribution, if possible. If not, the judge will determine an equitable split based on the following factors:
- The reason for the divorce
- How old and healthy you each are
- How long your marriage lasted
- The contributions each of you made to the family and assets
- The effect taxes will have on each of you
You may have the option to purchase your spouse’s share or to sell assets and divide the profits.
Alimony, or spousal support, is not a guarantee in divorce, unlike child support. If the court deems it necessary, it will use the same factors as above, in addition to others such as individual education and work skills, to determine the payment amount and duration.