Harrison & Johnston’s divorce lawyers possess a comprehensive understanding of the nuances of asset division in a Virginia divorce and have the legal skill and financial acumen to ensure that our clients keep or obtain the assets they are entitled to under the law.
While the emotional separation that comes with divorce certainly presents challenges, so too can the act of dividing the property accumulated by a couple during years or decades of marriage.
Virginia law governing property and asset division is often complicated, and disagreements over who gets what can be contentious. Sorting through the assets and debts accumulated throughout a marriage requires a divorce attorney who fully understands the principles that control what happens to a couple’s property when their marriage ends.
The Shenandoah Valley divorce and family law attorneys at Harrison & Johnston bring a wealth of experience and resources to the process of dividing assets in a divorce. We recognize that the endeavor will play a significant role in determining the quality of a client’s life going forward. That is why we take a meticulous and thorough approach to the process, complementing our legal knowledge with the insights of skilled financial professionals to ensure that all assets are accounted for, valued, and distributed fairly and equitably.
Property Division in a Virginia Divorce
The first step in dividing property in a Virginia divorce is to determine which assets are “marital property” and which are “separate property.” Generally, separate property consists of those assets each spouse had when they got married, as well as certain types of property a spouse obtained during the marriage, such as gifts or inheritances.
Marital property, on the other hand, consists of most everything else that was acquired or earned during the marriage. This can include any increase in value or appreciation of separate property obtained while married.
To the extent possible, we try to work with your spouse and their attorney to reach negotiated agreements about how to divide marital property. If the parties are unable to resolve these issues on their own, the judge will allocate marital property using the legal principle of “equitable distribution.”
Equitable distribution of property does not mean the same thing as “equal” division. It is not simply a matter of dividing assets 50/50. Instead, Virginia judges will weigh several factors when deciding how to fairly and equitably distribute a couple’s property, such as the length of the marriage, the contributions of each spouse during the marriage, and the parties' age and condition, among other considerations.
Ensuring Fairness Requires Experienced Counsel
It is critical that you emerge from your divorce knowing that property was divided fairly and based on a complete picture of both spouses’ finances.
While the law requires parties in a Virginia divorce to make full disclosures of relevant financial information, we know that trust can be in short supply in a divorce. Some individuals may be tempted to try to game the system by concealing assets or misrepresenting their finances. We don’t let that happen, using our financial and legal knowledge to expose any efforts to prejudice our clients and ensure that everyone’s cards are on the table.