Divorce almost always involves a division of marital property, which is generally defined as any property — personal or real — that was acquired by using funds that were earned during the marriage.
Often property and debt distribution is settled between the parties in a signed Marital Settlement Agreement. If the matter is unable to be resolved out of court, a judge will ultimately determine who will receive what, and who will be responsible for any debt that accrued during the marriage.
Virginia is an “equitable distribution” state. This means that when the two sides are unable to negotiate a division agreement on their own, the circuit court will impose division following specific codified rules:
- A discovery process will put all marital assets and debts on the table — these assets and liabilities will be characterized as either marital, separate or part-marital/part-separate.
- All assets and debts will be assessed for their dollar value so that a logical division may be made.
- Assets and liabilities will be divided equitably — not necessarily a 50/50 division, but making every effort to be fair and acceptable to both sides.
Property to be divided includes everything acquired during the marriage, including:
- Real estate
- Complex assets like family-owned businesses
- Personal property, like cars, ATVs, trailers
- Investment accounts
- Stock options and employer stock awards
- Pensions, IRAs and 401(k)s
Our lawyers will help you distinguish between separate and marital property. We are skilled at using our discovery process to find assets your spouse may have concealed or overlooked. We can also assist in dealing with assets that were commingled during the marriage. We are experienced in dividing even the most difficult assets, such as retirement and pension savings, which may require a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) or Court Order Acceptable for Processing (COAP).
An attorney skilled in financial analysis and alert to the strategies of another lawyer is essential to the division of property. If you have questions or want to discuss your case in detail, schedule a consultation now.