In most marriages, real property is the most valuable asset that couples have. When a couple divorces, property division can become a significant challenge. The challenge can become more significant when couples own more than one property and use their property for different purposes, such as for a business.
For purposes of divorce, the state of Virginia divides property into three different types:
- Marital property
- Separate property
- Hybrid property
1. Marital property
Any property acquired on or after the date of marriage is typically considered marital property. Also, any property purchased during the marriage, even if purchased by one spouse, is marital property if used for the couple’s benefit.
Virginia courts do not divide marital property equally. Virginia courts distribute all marital assets equitably, which the state considers a more fair way of separating assets. Courts take into account a multitude of factors in determining what to grant to whom.
2. Separate property
Separate property refers to property that one individual owned before the marriage, property given as a gift to one party before or during the marriage, such as an inheritance and property purchased with funds belonging exclusively to one of the parties.
3. Hybrid property
Some situations do not quite fit either. For example, if one of the parties buys a property before the wedding and the value of that property increases during the marriage because of the couple’s combined efforts.
In that case, the court could divide the marital portion of the property and grant a separate part to the party who purchased the property before the marriage.
What about business property?
In Virginia, businesses are considered marital assets and subject to equitable distribution laws, like all other marital, separate and hybrid property.
The division of multiple properties during a divorce can make the process somewhat more complicated. It is, however, helpful to understand that the law has a process in place for these situations.