John C. Whitbeck, Jr.

Divorce Attorneys in Northern Virginia

As a Fairfax, VA family law attorney, I'm frequently approached by clients who want to know what's going to happen to their houses, their cars, retirement funds, etc. The following information is intended to be a guideline for people with questions about how Virginia classifies marital and separate assets.

For actual legal advice, contact a reputable Virginia divorce lawyer. For all intents and purposes, any assets that are purchased or acquired by either spouse after the date of marriage and before the separation are considered marital property. This includes real estate, automobiles, recreational vehicles and craft, furniture, stocks, bonds, mutual fund shares, ownership in businesses, et cetera.

There are some exceptions, which are referred to as "separate property. Monetary assets acquired via inheritance must be traced in Virginia to maintain their separate character. A separate gift to one spouse is also considered separate property.

Keeping the House in Virginia Divorce

Finally, anything that was accumulated by one of the spouses before the wedding or after the separation that can be traced to earnings that are separate belongs solely to that spouse. It is a complicated issue which should be discussed with your attorney. He could be forced to pay you your share, but not to sell it to you outright since he does have a separate interest in the home.

We have to look first at how the property is classified. Most of the time, a house is purely a marital asset. We also have to figure out what the client wants to do with it—keep it, sell it, whatever. Sure, your payments will likely increase because you have the existing mortgage principal plus his portion of the equity , but you could keep it that way.

You will have to refinance, though, if both names are on the home, because you have to remove the other spouse from any liability on the home. The same thing works in reverse. All we would need to do is reach an agreement or have a judge enter an order regarding the sale of the home. We place it on the market, either at a mutually agreed upon asking price, at a price determined with the advice of a realtor, or on the advice of someone trained in valuation, and then determine how the proceeds from the sale will be split.

Remember that selling a home is expensive. Though, to be fair, so is a refinance!

Want to avoid a messy and expensive divorce?

That will cut into the equity to be divided, so you should be prepared for a little sticker shock up front. The court decides how all of the property should be divided considering the rights and interests of each party and the length of the marriage. If one party hid assets or took steps to reduce the value of the marital property to be divided, that party can be penalized for these actions.

Because dividing all property into equal halves is rarely practical, in many cases the court will require one spouse to pay a monetary award to the other spouse as partial compensation for the value of marital property. If the court is asked to make a decision on the monetary award based on the value of shared property, the divorcing parties must provide evidence for any claims they make regarding the value of shared assets.

In certain cases, estimating the value of shared property can be difficult. For example, if a couple has been operating a family business together, one spouse may need to buy the other out of the business. In such cases, a business valuation expert may be necessary to help determine the fair market value of the property, including good will brand recognition and reputation. To better understand your rights when the court uses equitable distribution to divide your assets, it is helpful to understand what types of property are classified as marital property and what types of property are classified as separate property.

Property in which one spouse has a separate claim, but the other spouse acquired an ownership stake during the marriage.

What is Considered Separate Property in a Divorce? -

For example, if one party owned a house before marriage but both parties paid and improved upon the house, this property may be considered both marital and separate property. Property to which both spouses hold legal title however, title is not the sole deciding factor if one spouse can prove that the property is actually separate property.

Property acquired by either party during the marriage from an inheritance or gift not from the other party and maintained separately. Property acquired in exchange for the proceeds from separate property or in exchange for separate property.

  1. How to Divide Marital Property During Divorce.
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  3. The Treatment of Inherited Property in Virginia Divorce Cases;

For example, if one spouse purchases an item with his inheritance money or with the proceeds from selling his bachelor pad, this item can constitute separate property. Each party is generally entitled to keep his or her own separate property following divorce, while the marital property is split in a fair and equitable manner by the court. At Nichols Zauzig, we can help you to determine what property the court may consider marital property and what property is separate property.

What Is the Virginia State Law on Division of Marital Property?

To obtain legal assistance in dividing marital assets, contact the experienced Virginia divorce attorneys at Nichols Zauzig to schedule a consultation. Call us today. Press enter to begin your search.

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