When you make the decision to divorce, you’ll have a lot of issues to deal with which you may never before have considered. And it’s natural to have questions when those issues arise. Property division invariably comes up, so understanding how the court will deal with it can ease your mind and make the process less painful.
At the outset of a divorce proceeding, the court will seek to classify all of a couple’s assets and debts into one of three categories, the first of which is separate property. Separate property is any property which was owned entirely by one spouse prior to the marriage. It can also include certain assets received by one spouse during the marriage, such as inheritances or gifts. Separate property will typically be awarded to the spouse who owned it.
Marital property is all property acquired by either spouse during the marriage. Each spouse has an interest in these assets and debts. Virginia is an equitable distribution state, which means marital property will not necessarily be divided evenly between the spouses. Instead, it will be divided equitably – the court will seek a division which is fair to both spouses, based upon many factors it will consider.
Sometimes separate property becomes mixed with marital property during the marriage. When possible, the court will determine the value of the separate property, apart from the marital property with which it was commingled, and award that value to the individual spouse – then divide the remainder according to equitable distribution. However, if it is impossible to make such a distinction, the separate property will be transmuted into marital property and it will be subject to equitable distribution in its entirety.
To get a better idea of how your property will be classified and distributed, seek the assistance of an experienced family law attorney. They can guide you through this complicated area of the divorce process.