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How is marital property divided during a Virginia divorce?

Spouses often have some assets that are their separate property when they marry. They may already own their own vehicle or a small hunting cabin in the woods. They may also obtain some separate property during the marriage, such as an inheritance from their parents. So long as they maintain that property separately, they technically don’t have to share ownership of those assets with their spouse.

Couples share almost everything else, including the income they earn during the marriage and any resources they purchase. The marital estate may include home equity, retirement savings, furniture and financial accounts. Jewelry, vehicles and personal collections are also often part of the marital estate that people have to split up when they divorce. Virginia courts divide marital property in specific ways during the divorce process.

A judge will apply the equitable distribution standard

Virginia has a law that requires the fair division of marital property. Equitable distribution rules do not result in a 50/50 division of assets in many cases. Instead, a highly-specific property division decree based on the couple’s circumstances dictates who keeps what property.

To reach a fair solution, a judge needs to understand the couple’s circumstances. How long they remained married, the earning potential of the spouses and many other considerations affect how a judge will divide property in a Virginia divorce. Although the exact outcome is unpredictable, people can expect to receive a reasonable portion of their marital property in the divorce.

Spouses don’t have to wait for judges to decide

Many people find the idea of letting a total stranger divide their property distasteful. They may worry that they won’t be able to protect specific property or that the outcome will be unfair in some way.

Thankfully, every divorcing couple in Virginia has the option of reaching a settlement and pursuing an uncontested divorce. Those with marital agreements have likely already set terms to guide the property division process. Couples sometimes even go through mediation sessions as a means of resolving their disagreements for an uncontested divorce filing. Learning about the rules that govern property division matters is an important step for those planning for a Virginia divorce.


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