What to Know About Equitable Distribution in a Virginia Divorce

Woman sitting with family law attorney

Divorce can often prove contentious – especially when it comes to who gets what. Many couples struggle to agree upon who will receive specific assets and pieces of property. In Virginia, the courts divide marital property equitably. While this means that property is split fairly, it doesn’t necessarily mean that property will be split equally. Sometimes one spouse gets more property than the other. Here’s what to know about equitable distribution in Virginia. 

What is Marital Property?

When it comes to dividing property in Virginia, only marital property or the marital share of other property is considered. Marital property is property that is jointly-owned property acquired by either spouse during the course of the marriage. Marital property may include:

  • Income
  • Shared home
  • Retirement accounts
  • Stocks
  • Investments
  • Assets purchased from marital property

Put simply, any property that either spouse acquires during the marriage is presumed to be marital. What is not considered marital property, but rather separate property, is any property that is owned by either spouse prior to the marriage, after separation, or as an inheritance or gift. However, it’s important to note that gifts given from one spouse to another are considered marital property. 

What is Separate/Hybrid Property?

Separate property can become marital property if it’s handled in a certain manner. Each spouse may have different interests in property that is considered partially marital, or hybrid property. For hybrid property the court will classify which part of the property is considered marital and which is not. Then it will include the marital portion when making decisions for equitable distribution.  

Factors Considered for Equitable Distribution

In determining what is equitable, the court will look at many different factors and make its decision on a case-by-case basis. Some of the factors that the court will consider include:

  • How much each spouse contributed to the well-being of the family (both financial and not);
  • The contributions of each party in the acquisition and care and maintenance of marital property;
  • How and when different marital property was acquired;
  • The liquidity of the marital assets;
  • The duration of the marriage;
  • The income of each spouse;
  • The age of each spouse;
  • The health of each spouse (both mental and physical);
  • The financial obligations of each spouse (debts and liabilities, the basis for them, and the property that serves as security for them);
  • The factors that contributed to the dissolution of the marriage;
  • Tax consequences to each party; 
  • The use of marital property by either party for a purpose separate from the marriage or in anticipation of divorce; and
  • Additional factors it deems relevant.

The court also considers non-marital contributions to the marriage, such as homemaking, child care and other unpaid work. This is important for many couples who have one parent (more commonly the mother) stay at home and take care of the house and the children while they are young. If these factors were not considered, it would create an extremely inequitable situation for those who stay home and fail to receive earnings since they aren’t pursuing an outside career. 

Surovell Isaacs & Levy PLC Can Help Those in VA Who Are Going Through a Divorce

If you or a loved one is going through a divorce in Virginia, there can be a lot of financial implications. That’s why it’s in your best interest to consult with a knowledgeable and experienced family law attorney who has experience dealing with the distribution of assets, and spousal and child support, and can help to walk you through the process. At Surovell Isaacs & Levy PLC, we work hard to ensure that our clients receive the best outcome. To learn more or to schedule a consultation, contact us today!

Posted in: Divorce