Distribution of Property/Equitable Distribution
Virginia is an “equitable distribution” state, which means that the court will seek to equitably divide property and debts based upon the statutory factors outlined in Virginia Code Section 20-107.3. Before the court can divide the property, however, it needs to first classify it as either “marital,” “separate,” or “hybrid.” To make these classifications, the court will look at when the property was acquired and how it was acquired. Often this is a simple task, but it can become quite complex.
At its most basic level, separate property is all property acquired by either spouse before the marriage or during the marriage through inheritance or gift by a source that is not the other spouse. An example of this would be an item of jewelry that was given to a spouse by his or her parent during the marriage. Marital property is defined as all jointly owned property and all other property that is not separate property that was acquired from the date of the marriage to the date of the final separation. Therefore, a house that you purchased after you were married is presumably marital property. The third category of property, “hybrid” property, is the most complex. Our attorneys will meet with you and discuss your assets in detail to determine how the court will likely classify them.
There is no formula for deciding how assets and debts will be divided. The inquiry takes into consideration eleven statutory factors, all of which involve different analyses. Our lawyers can take you through each of these factors and ask you questions based on them that will help determine how a court may likely view your particular case and divide your assets.