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How is property divided in a divorce?

On Behalf of | Apr 7, 2021 | High Asset Divorce |

As married couples in Virginia move through life they acquire various property. This could be physical property such as homes, household goods, furniture, appliances, tools, vehicles, collectables and other property. It also includes non-tangible property such as bank accounts, retirement accounts, investment accounts and other types of assets. During the marriage these assets are shared as the rest of their lives are generally shared.

Divorces completely change this though and the couples will need to divide that shared life into two separate lives. This means that the couple will need to divide all of their martial property. This is not necessarily all of the coupe’s property as each spouse may also own separate property and also portions of marital property may be considered separate property as well. Due to the different classifications of property, the division of property can be difficult especially if the couple owns a large number of assets.

When dividing assets the first step in the process is to determine whether property is marital property, separate property or a combination of both.

Marital property

This is property that is acquired during the marriage. It does not matter which spouse purchased it, whose name is on the title to property or whose name is on the accounts. If either spouse bought it during the marriage it is considered marital property.

Separate property

This is property that was owned by either spouse prior to the marriage. It also includes gifts to one spouse or inheritances that are received by either spouse even if they are received during the marriage.

Part marital, part separate property

This is property that may have started out as separate property, but was combined with marital property during the marriage. An example is a retirement account which may have started before the marriage, but the spouse continued to contribute to it during the marriage. Determining the separate amount in the account can be difficult, but if people can trace the separate property, that will not be divided as marital property.

Divorces in Virginia can be difficult process as separating a life may have shared for many years into two separate lives. Property division is something that all couples have to do during their divorce, but how complicated that process will be depends on the type and amount of assets that the couple owns. In some circumstances simply determining whether property is marital or separate can be difficult. Experienced attorneys understand this process though and may be able to guide one through it.