Married couples in Virginia who are facing a divorce may find that one of the most contentious issues is property division. After all, certain marital assets have significant financial or sentimental value. For example, disputes can arise as to which party will retain investment accounts or which party will retain family photos. Sometimes, couples can decide who gets what in the property division process and reach a settlement that they are both satisfied with. However, other couples will need to turn to the court for a decision on property division issues.
In Virginia, courts will divide marital property based on the laws of “equitable distribution.” This means that courts will make decisions based on what is fair based on the couple’s unique circumstances. Keep in mind that this could result in an uneven split of assets, for example, a 70/30 split rather than a 50/50 split, if that is what the court deems is equitable.
When determining what is equitable, Virginia courts must consider certain factors. One factor is the financial and non-financial contributions each spouse made to the family. Each spouse’s financial and non-financial contributions in acquiring and maintaining marital assets will be considered. How long the marriage lasted, and each party’s age and health are also factors. The reasons the couple is ending their marriage, specifically the grounds of divorce they are basing their dissolution on, will also be considered. How and when the couple acquired the marital assets is a consideration, as is each party’s debts and liabilities. Whether each marital asset is liquid or non-liquid will be considered.
The tax consequences that would follow the division of marital assets are another factor. Whether each spouse utilized marital assets for non-marital purposes after they separated or in anticipation of divorce will be considered. Finally, as a catch-all, any other necessary or appropriate factors will be taken into consideration if needed to reach a fair outcome.
In the end, property division can be more complicated than it may initially seem. While some couples can settle their property division issues out-of-court, some need to litigate the matter and there are many factors the court will consider.