If you’re considering divorce or going through a divorce, you may be wondering how Virginia divorce law treats marital property. Under Virginia divorce law, the Virginia statutes provide for “equitable” distribution of any marital property between divorcing spouses at the conclusion of their divorce.
A court is not required to divide the marital property on an equal basis, rather, the courts may divide the property, order the property sold or transferred, or make a monetary award. Various factors are considered in making an award and include the relative monetary and non-monetary contributions of each of the parties to the well- being of the family, and to the acquisition and care of the marital property.
“Marital property” consists of all jointly-titled property as well as all other property, other than separate property, acquired by either or both of the parties from the date of the marriage through the time of the final separation.
“Separate property” is property owned by one party prior to the marriage, property acquired after the parties have separated, inherited property and/or gifts to one party from a third person.
“Hybrid property” is part marital and part separate property, is property that was originally separate property until both parties actively increased the value of the property.
“Personal effort” of a party is the labor, effort, inventiveness, physical or intellectual skill, creativity, or managerial, promotional or marketing activity applied directly to the separate property of either party.
One of the most commonly asked questions by clients seeking a Virginia divorce, is whether a house owned by one party prior to the marriage and titled to that same party during the marriage, becomes “marital property,” for the purposes of divorce and distribution.
A house that serves as the marital home is considered marital property or hybrid property. In assessing ownership and entitlement to real property, the court will weigh the value of “personal efforts” by both parties in maintaining the home, in addition to the application of separate funds or marital funds to mortgage payments, maintenance, or repairs. In other words, a stay-at-home mom or dad is awarded credit for the daily chores that keep a family running.
My father used to say, “What’s mine is yours, and what’s yours is yours.” My mother was the lower earning spouse, and while most of her salary went towards the children and the house, she always kept a separate bank account. As it turns out, when her father left the family, he left very little behind and sent nothing back. That’s when I realized the separate account was her “rainy day” fund. Maintaining a separate account for money received from gifts or inheritance is the best way to ensure that what’s yours is yours. Commingling those funds with shared bank accounts, or investing that money into the marital home can create complications in reclaiming that money after a divorce.
Fairfax Divorce Lawyer: If you’re looking for an experienced Virginia family law attorney or Virginia divorce lawyer, contact Keithley Law, PLLC, PLLC today by calling (703) 454-5147 and schedule an initial consultation in our Fairfax law office.
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