How Virginia’s Laws Divide Assets and Debts During Divorce
Along with questions about child custody, conflicts about the division of assets and debts during a divorce are extremely common. Working to reach a successful resolution of disputes about marital property division requires a comprehensive review of each family’s circumstances, as well as well-developed negotiating skills.
At Hale Ball, a family law practice located in northern Virginia, our attorneys have extensive experience helping valuate and distribute complex financial portfolios, multiple real estate holdings, and other complicated asset structures on behalf of our clients.
The Stages of Property Division
Under Virginia law, marital assets and debts must be divided between the spouses according to the principles of equitable division. This means that the division need not be exactly equal, but it must be fair and just. In Virginia, there is no presumption that assets need to be divided equally.
The four primary stages of property division are:
- Identification: Each spouse must identify all existing assets and debts, both marital property, separate property and assets and debts accumulated before the marriage.
- Classification: Each asset and debt must then be classified as either belonging to one of the spouses (“separate property”) or belonging to the marriage (“marital property”). Property or debts acquired before marriage are usually separate property. Property or debts acquired during the marriage, including each spouse’s retirement accounts, are usually marital property unless the property was a gift or inheritance from someone other than the other spouse or was property acquired by exchanging other separate property.
- Valuation: The true value of each asset and debt must be determined, with the help of expert appraisers and forensic accountants.
- Division: All assets and debts classified as marital property must be divided between the spouses in a fair and just manner pursuant to criteria established by Virginia law.
Federal Employees and Military Members: Unique issues apply to the division of assets when one or both spouses are federal employees or members of the military.
This final stage — the division of property — is where the analytical and strategic assistance of a knowledgeable divorce lawyer is extremely useful. Your attorney should be able to look at the property division picture as a whole, as well as being able to consider details about each asset such as future tax and estate planning consequences.
One of the many benefits of working with a lawyer from Hale Ball is that we are a division of the well-regarded local law firm of Hale Ball Carlson Baumgartner Murphy PLC. Our family law attorneys have the support of a larger firm, including attorneys with extensive estate planning, tax, business, and bankruptcy experience.
We can help you assess and divide all types of property in your divorce, including:
Schedule a Consultation with an Experienced Attorney
If you have a question, we encourage you to schedule a confidential consultation with one of our Northern Virginia lawyers. To make an appointment call us at the above telephone number 1-703-591-4900 or use the contact form below.
Since 1980 the AV-rated law firm of Hale Ball has served the legal needs of individuals and businesses. Our team of attorneys include lawyers named to Super Lawyer and Rising Star lists, as well as attorneys with advanced legal degrees, specialty certifications and lawyers who teach their areas of practice to other lawyers.
Use the contact form on this page to schedule a consultation, or call 703-591-4900.
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Fairfax, VA 22030