Going through a divorce can be complicated, especially when you are dealing with dividing property and assets. It is important to work with a skilled Fairfax division of assets lawyer, who can help you through this process. A divorce attorney can assist you during this difficult time as you divide property and determine financial obligations and contributions.

Dividing Property

Virginia is not a community property state so the way the court classifies property for purposes of division is different than it would be in a community property state.

The court is required to look at the assets the individual parties own and decide what assets are marital and which are separate property. Once that has been done, the court looks at the marital assets and assigns a value to them. After that, the courts take into consideration a number of factors that are spelled out in the Virginia code in deciding how to divide the marital assets between the two parties.

Dividing Assets in Court

It is up to the parties to bring a value to the court and what typically happens is that both parties assign values to the assets. If one party asserts a particular value that is agreed  by the other side, then the parties are able to stipulate to it.

In presenting evidence about the values of certain items, parties may use appraisers, or they may use tax assessed values, or they may use experts to testify about the value of a particular piece of property or a business.

Non-Financial Contributions When Dividing Assets

The court is allowed to consider both the positive and the negative non-financial contributions to the family on behalf of both parties. A positive contribution could be the efforts made by one of the spouses to keep the home clean or to make meals for the family or to fix things in the home so that it is a happy and healthy place for the family to live. Negative contributions could be things like abuse by one party to the other or perhaps somebody had not been participating in the family unit in a productive way.

Process of Tracing Separate Contributions

In Virginia, the court has the ability to recognize that one of the parties in the marriage has contributed separate property to the acquisition of marital property. In order to successfully get the court to treat separate contributions separately, they have to be traced properly.

This entails a very detailed analysis supported by documentation showing separate money going in to marital property that usually involves bank statements and other documentation that shows where the funds originated in a separate account or in a separate asset and the complete tracing of those funds until they arrive into marital assets.

Equal Distribution vs Equitable Distribution

Many assume there is an equal division and 50% goes to one spouse and 50% goes to another. That is not a requirement in Virginia. Equitable distribution does not require a 50-50 division. The court is supposed to look at the assets, look at the factors that are spelled out and the statute and decide what the court thinks is equitable or fair in terms of dividing assets.

It is often the case that the court will divide them almost equally but that does not always happen and there are various things that can impact how the court divides property including the financial contributions, the non-financial contributions of both parties, the efforts made by the individual parties to increase the value of an asset.  All of these things are considered by the court in deciding how to divide assets up.

Role of Collaboration

Parties may be able to resolve the issues between them, which is proffered, because in court, there is no formula or equation or rule that the court is bound by in dividing the assets.

However, if the parties are able to collaborate, they can avoid being forced to accept a division of assets that they don’t believe is fair, and they would have control over which assets they get to keep individually.

If a married couple, for instance, owns a lot of money and retirement savings, as well as a home with a lot of equity in it, and one party has the ability to earn a lot more and is more interested in keeping the home rather than keeping retirement assets, they can do this. If two parties collaborate in the division of assets, they get to control not only how the assets are divided but who gets what. That is not necessarily the case when going to court.

Benefits of a Fairfax Division of Assets Lawyer

Unless you have extensive knowledge of divorce law, you will want to hire a skilled and experienced Fairfax division of assets lawyer to represent you during meetings and negotiations. They will do everything in their power to represent you and assist you in dividing assets.