Dividing Real Estate in Virginia During Divorce: A Beginner’s Guide

By | September 12, 2023

When a marriage ends in divorce, one of the most significant assets to consider is real estate, especially in the Northern Virginia real estate market.  Virginia’s statue on property division (also called “equitable distribution”) can be found by clicking:  HERE.  Dividing property during a divorce can be a complex and emotionally charged process. At Curran Moher Weis, P.C., we help divorcing couples make value-oriented decisions related to real estate distribution during divorce. In this guide, we will explore how to navigate the division of real estate in Virginia, with a focus on Fairfax and Loudoun Counties, and address key considerations.  For specific information on high asset divorces, click:  HERE.  For a look at valuing businesses and finding hidden assets in divorce, click:  HERE.

  1. How to Split a House in a Divorce in Virginia.

Dividing a house in a divorce in Virginia, particularly in Northern Virginia, involves several steps and considerations:

  1. Equitable Distribution: Virginia follows the principle of equitable distribution when dividing marital assets, which includes real estate. This means that the court aims to divide property in a fair and just manner, but not necessarily equally.
  2. Identifying Marital vs. Separate Property: It’s crucial to distinguish between marital and separate property. Marital property typically includes assets acquired during the marriage, while separate property may include assets owned prior to the marriage or received as gifts or inheritances.
  3. Valuing the Property: The fair market value of the real estate is assessed, which can be influenced by factors such as location, market conditions, and improvements made during the marriage. Typically this is done through appraisals, but property owners can also testify about the value of property.
  4. Options for Division: Divorcing couples have several options for dividing real estate:

Sell the Property: This is often the most straightforward option. The proceeds are divided according to the equitable distribution principle.

Buyout: One spouse may choose to buy out the other’s share of the property, allowing them to retain ownership.

Co-ownership: In some cases, couples may choose to continue owning the property jointly, such as for the benefit of their children.  Naturally, this option requires a reasonable working relationship with your spouse.

Deferred Sale: In situations involving minor children, the court may order a deferred sale of the property to provide stability, though this is rare as court are often hesitant to defer such decisions due to the likelihood of additional issues arising between the parties’ final hearing and the property’s sale.

It’s essential to consult with an experienced divorce attorney to explore these options and determine the best course of action based on your unique circumstances.

  1. How Property is Distributed in a Divorce in Virginia?

The distribution of property during a divorce in Virginia involves careful consideration of various factors, which include, but are not limited to:

  1. Marital Contributions: The court takes into account each spouse’s contributions to the acquisition, preservation, and appreciation of marital property. This includes financial contributions, as well as non-financial contributions such as homemaking and child-rearing.
  2. Length of the Marriage: The duration of the marriage can influence property distribution. Longer marriages may result in a more equal distribution of assets.
  3. Spousal Support: If one spouse is awarded spousal support, it can impact the division of property. The goal is to ensure that both spouses can maintain a reasonably similar standard of living.
  4. Tax Implications: Consider potential tax consequences when dividing property, especially when it comes to capital gains taxes. It’s essential to consult with a tax professional to understand these implications fully.

3. Can a Court Order Me to Refinance My Property?

In some cases, a court may order one spouse to refinance the property, particularly if one spouse is to retain ownership. Refinancing can be ordered for various reasons:

  1. Equalizing the Distribution: If one spouse is buying out the other’s share, refinancing can help ensure that the buying spouse can afford to do so.
  2. Removing the Other Spouse’s Obligation: Refinancing can release the other spouse from any financial responsibility related to the property, such as mortgage payments or maintenance costs.
  3. Protecting Credit: Refinancing can protect the credit of both spouses, ensuring that they are not held responsible for each other’s debts related to the property.

However, it’s essential to note that refinancing is not always possible or practical, depending on the financial circumstances of both spouses. In such cases, alternative arrangements may need to be explored.

  1. Considerations When Keeping a Property

When deciding whether to retain a property during a divorce in Virginia, it’s crucial to weigh several factors, including:

  1. Capital Gains: Capital gains taxes can have significant implications when keeping a property. If you sell the property in the future, you may be subject to capital gains tax. Consulting with a tax professional can help you understand these potential tax consequences.
  2. Refinance Interest Rates: If refinancing is part of the equation, carefully evaluate the interest rates available. Refinancing can impact your overall financial stability post-divorce, so securing favorable rates is essential.
  3. Carrying Costs: Keeping a property comes with ongoing expenses, such as mortgage payments, property taxes, insurance, and maintenance. Ensure you can comfortably cover these costs without straining your finances.
  4. Future Planning: Consider your long-term goals and whether the property aligns with them. For example, if you have children, you may want to maintain stability by staying in the same home.
  5. Negotiation: Property division negotiations can be complex. You may need to negotiate other assets or financial arrangements to ensure a fair distribution if you decide to keep the property.

It’s advisable to work closely with a skilled divorce attorney who specializes in property division to help you make informed decisions and protect your interests.

  1. Seeking Professional Legal Guidance

Dividing real estate in a divorce in Virginia, particularly in Fairfax and Loudoun County, can be legally intricate and emotionally challenging. That’s where our team at Curran Moher Weis, P.C., comes in. Our experienced family law attorneys have a deep understanding of Virginia’s divorce laws and the unique considerations of property division in Northern Virginia.

We are committed to helping divorcing couples in Fairfax and the surrounding areas make value-oriented decisions when it comes to real estate distribution. Our approach involves:

  1. Thorough Assessment: We conduct a comprehensive analysis of your assets, including real estate, to determine the best course of action based on your unique circumstances.
  2. Skilled Negotiation: Our attorneys are adept negotiators, ensuring that your interests are protected during property division discussions.
  3. Legal Expertise: With our extensive legal knowledge and experience, we can guide you through the complexities of Virginia divorce law.
  4. Personalized Solutions: We understand that each divorce is unique. We tailor our strategies to meet your specific needs and goals.


Dividing real estate during a divorce in Virginia, especially in Northern Virginia, is a multifaceted process that requires careful consideration of legal, financial, and emotional aspects. Whether you are deciding how to split a house, distribute property, or address refinancing, seeking professional legal guidance is crucial to protect your interests and ensure a fair outcome.

At Curran Moher Weis, P.C., we are here to help you navigate the complexities of divorce and property division. If you have questions or need legal assistance in a family law matter in Northern Virginia or the surrounding areas, please do not hesitate to contact our experienced family law attorneys. We are dedicated to guiding you toward value-oriented decisions during this challenging time.



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