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What are the Virginia rules for property division during divorce?

On Behalf of | Oct 12, 2023 | Asset Division

Certain aspects of divorce tend to make people very anxious about the idea of ending a marriage. For example, many people worry about the financial implications of divorce because they have heard a story wherein someone lost their home or other valuable assets in what seems to be a very unfair property division decree.

It is important to remember that many people exaggerate or overtly misrepresent details of their divorce out of embarrassment or a desire to make their former spouse look like a villain. Those who are familiar with Virginia’s property division rules will probably feel more confident about filing divorce paperwork or responding to a spouse’s filing, as these rules strive for fairness.

Virginia has an equitable distribution rule

There is never any certainty regarding how the courts might divide personal property in a divorce, as a judge must interpret the circumstances to decide what is appropriate. The law in Virginia requires an equitable division of marital property, which means a fair solution. Spouses will need to disclose their financial circumstances to one another and the courts. A judge will then apply state law to the marital estate of those divorcing via a litigated process.

A judge must help couples split up the income they earned while married and also the property they purchased during that time in a fair manner. What is fair for one couple would be wildly inappropriate for the next. Therefore, judges need to look at factors including current income levels, separate property, health concerns and even custody arrangements when deciding how to divide marital property in an equitable manner.

Debts can play as big of a role as major assets. Judges can order either spouse to take on some of the marital debt to balance the division of property. They can also order the sale of assets to pay off marital debts in some cases. Although there is never a guarantee about how exactly the courts will divide property, people can expect solutions that prioritize fairness for both spouses.

Learning more about the rules that apply during divorce proceedings could help people develop more realistic expectations and more effective legal strategies. Many people opt, for example, to pursue uncontested divorce proceedings so that they can control the outcome of their property division situation.