There are several steps that must happen for the effective division of marital assets. First, the court must look at the property in question and decide whether it is separate property, marital property, or a hybrid of the two. Then, the court must assign a value to that property. There is a statute in Virginia that sets forth the rules the court must follow in making such an assessment. A Virginia divorce lawyer can help walk you through this process and understand your options.
Next, the court decides how the property will be divided. To do so, the court must consider a number of factors that are spelled out in the Virginia statute, among them:
- Financial contributions of each party to the marriage
- Non-financial contributions of each party to the marriage
- How and when the certain items of property were acquired
In Virginia, there is no law stating that property must be divided evenly. Because there is no specific mathematical formula or equation by which assets are divided, the court is required to consider all of the factors detailed in Virginia Code Section 20-107.3 in deciding how to equitably and properly divide assets and liabilities between two divorcing spouses.
Preparing for Protection of Assets
An individual may protect many separate assets by titling those assets appropriately. That is to say, if a party comes into a marriage with something, it is important to keep that asset separate and not intermingle it with marital assets.
Additionally, both parties may protect their interest in certain marital and hybrid assets by keeping good documentation of the funds used to acquire those assets. For instance, a shared home or property can be a valuable asset. An individual may protect his or her interest in that asset by maintaining records regarding the source of the funds used to purchase that home and to make any mortgage payments.
In the Case of Divorce
Such records can be very, very important if the parties become divorced. This is because evidence regarding the sources of the funds used to purchase certain assets must be established in court.
Someone who believes divorce is on the horizon can protect certain assets by entering into a post-nuptial agreement with his or her spouse. The agreement sets forth which assets are to be subject to division and which are not.
Additionally, a party can make sure that liquid assets are not held individually and not jointly, under the name of both spouses. This could ensure that a person’s spouse would be unable to remove or transfer funds during the divorce process.
Asset Division Outside of Court
There are two main reasons why a couple may want to determine the division of marital assets without going to trial. First, avoiding litigation can save the emotional and financial costs associated with a long and drawn-out battle in the courthouse.
Additionally, dividing marital assets outside of court allows a couple to determine how such assets should be divided. In court, however, the couple would be required to comply with determinations made by a judge who knows little about the couple and their family. By dividing marital assets outside of Virgina court, the couple is able to take control of their property, finances, and future moving forward.
How an Attorney Can Help
An experienced attorney can be a useful resource during the division of marital assets in Virginia. First of all, it is critical that any individual engaged in divorce litigation perform an independent analysis of all contested property. This analysis is to ensure that all property is properly categorized as separate, marital, or hybrid.
Additionally, an attorney can give a client a stronger sense of how a court may divide the property. And, finally, an attorney can advise a client on how to best evaluate property division. This can then enable the client to retain the property that is of greatest value to him or her.