Frequently Asked Questions About Virginia Property Division During Divorce
What kinds of assets are divided in a divorce?
The Commonwealth of Virginia recognizes three types of property: separate property, marital property and hybrid property. Generally, in a divorce all of the parties’ respective assets are identified, valued and allocated between the parties. This includes small things such as pots, pans and silverware; larger things such as furniture, cars, boats and planes; and even larger things such as businesses, real estate and retirement/investment accounts.
What is my separate property?
Separate property is generally considered to be any property that was acquired either prior or subsequent to the parties’ marriage or acquired by separate gift or inheritance during the marriage from anyone other than your spouse. In most cases, you retain your separate property. Under certain circumstances, however, you can transform (“transmute”) separate property into marital property.
What is marital property?
Marital property is generally considered to be any property acquired during the marriage by either party, regardless of who paid for it.
How is property divided?
In the Commonwealthof Virginia, the process of property division is called “equitable distribution.” In that process, the court, with the help of the parties’ attorneys, will identify all of the parties’ property, value it and divide it. Courts consider a number of factors in dividing property, such as:
Why is valuation important?
In many ways, the division of property is nothing more than the division of values. Determining a fair value of your property – whether it’s a closely-held business, an investment/retirement account or your marital home – placing an appropriate value on assets is crucial to achieving a truly equitable division. Attorneys often have the knowledge, experience, and resources (such as access to accountants, business and property appraisers and other professional experts) to help ensure you present a well-reasoned value to the court.
Jason A. Weis, Esquire – Curran|Moher P.C. – email@example.com – 3554 Chain Bridge Road, Suite 100, Fairfax, VA 22030 – 571-328-5020
Recently, I added the District of Columbia to Virginia and Maryland as locales where I am admitted to practice law. In the D.C. Metropolitan Area, being barred in all three jurisdictions makes sense; while I am a native of Northern Virginia and my office is located in Fairfax, both Maryland and D.C. are less than 30 minutes away and I frequently receive calls from people who have family law issues touching all three locations. Family laws are subject to the whims of local legislatures and thus, though they are often similar, they are certainly not identical across the three jurisdictions. Some notable differences include:
· In D.C. the age of majority for children is 21. In both Virginia and Maryland the age of majority is 18;
· In Maryland, the shared custody child support guideline takes effect when the non-primary custodian parent has the child for 128 days or more. In Virginia, the shared custody guideline kicks in at 90 days or more.
· Each state has its own child support guideline. Maryland’s guideline was recently revised and, as a result, in most cases its the most generous;
· In Virginia, alimony is terminable when the receiving spouse resides with a member of the opposite sex in a relationship analogous to marriage for a period in excess of 12 months. Neither Maryland nor D.C. has such a statutory termination provision.
· Both Virginia and D.C. have 12-month involuntary separation periods for divorce, but Maryland has a 24-month involuntary separation period;
· Unlike Virginia and Maryland, in D.C. marital fault like adultery exists and can be considered, but it is not a ground for divorce; and
· Unlike Virginia and Maryland, in D.C. property is categorized as either marital or non-marital. There is no hybrid property in D.C.
Naturally, there are many, many more distinctions between the jurisdictions and, in certain cases, party agreements can render those distinctions meaningless. If you have questions about the distinctions between family laws in Virginia, Maryland or the District of Columbia, feel free to drop me a line.
Jason A. Weis, Esquire – Curran Moher Weis P.C. – firstname.lastname@example.org – 10300 Eaton Place, Suite 520, Fairfax, VA 22030 – 571-328-5020
My experience and background reflect the hallmarks of success one must demand of a lawyer in Northern Virginia's legal landscape. As a native of this area, I have here focused my practice on providing sound and balanced representation to clients navigating the difficult legal waters of family law, including contested divorce, custody, visitation, spousal and child support, and equitable distribution. More >>>
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Thank you for taking the time to read this blog. I hope you find the information here as enjoyable to read as I find to write. Please note that reading this blog does not create a legal relationship between you and Jason A. Weis, Esquire or any other attorney associated with familylawva.com. Moreover, all postings on this blog are merely attorneys' commentary on the state of family law in the Commonwealth of Virginia. THE POSTINGS ARE NOT LEGAL ADVICE – if you have a legal issue or question, I strongly encourage you to contact a lawyer. I would be pleased to refer you to someone if I am able.