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Who gets what in a Virginia divorce?

Divorce comes with multiple stressors, one of which is splitting up all your valuables and belongings. This step is often the source of much contention, not only about who gets what but also about what to do with certain property, such as a house.

Each state has its own laws governing the process of property division to help couples reach a just resolution. How does the state of Virginia divide assets in a divorce?

Definition of marital property

The first step in property division is determining what is marital, what is separate and what has elements of both. Marital assets are those you and your spouse own together or have acquired while married even if both your names are not on it. Separate property is that which you owned before the marriage or that you received as a gift from someone besides your spouse, including inheritances.

An asset that might be both is a business: You may have started it before you got married, but your spouse contributed to its success since then and would have claim to some of its worth. Debt can fall under any category.

Definition of equitable distribution

Once the court has classified everything, it will decide who gets what and how much based on what is fair instead of exactly equal. The term for this approach is equitable distribution. The court comes to a decision by looking at the following factors, among others:

  • How long the marriage lasted
  • How much you each contribute to the family financially and otherwise
  • How old you are
  • What your health is like
  • Why you are divorcing
  • When and how you obtained assets
  • How much involvement you each had in caring for property
  • What the tax consequences will be

If you and your spouse are able to cooperate, you can choose the terms of your property division instead of letting a judge do it, though he or she will still have grant approval.

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