Most married people expect their marriages to last a lifetime, and therefore they do not hesitate to combine their assets and earnings. Unfortunately, however, many marriages fail, and when a married couple needs to divide the joint assets and property accrued throughout the life of the marriage, the process can become contentious and complicated. Anyone faced with the end of a marriage thus should retain an attorney who will fight for their financial security. If your marriage is ending, the Fairfax property division lawyers at Robinson Law can advise you on your rights and assist you in seeking a strong result under the facts of your case.Characterization of Property in Virginia Divorce Cases
Under Virginia law, when a couple divorces, the court will characterize each item of property owned by the couple as marital or separate. The parties can also delineate certain property as separate or marital via a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement.
Marital property is any property that either party acquired during the marriage that is not deemed separate. Marital property includes any income that either party earned during the marriage up until the date of separation, such as a salary or money from a profit-sharing plan, pension, or deferred compensation, unless it is proven to be separate. Any property that is in the names of both spouses also is generally marital property.
Separate property, on the other hand, is any personal or real property that either party acquired prior to the marriage. Separate property also includes any property that a party obtained during the marriage via devise, bequest, gift, descent, or survivorship from a party outside the marriage. In other words, if a party obtained property through a will or the intestacy laws of Virginia during the marriage, the property will be deemed separate. Additionally, property obtained during the marriage by using the proceeds of the sale of separate property will remain separate. Our property division attorneys can help Fairfax residents protect their separate property.
When marital and separate property have been combined, determining the nature of the property can be complicated, and whether it remains separate or is transmuted into marital property depends on several factors.Division of Property in Divorce
In Virginia, both spouses have interests in and rights to marital property. While the court cannot order a transfer of title to separate property, it can divide any marital property in a divorce. Virginia is an equitable distribution state, which means that courts must divide marital property in a manner that is fair and just, which does not necessarily result in an equal division. In determining what constitutes an equitable division of property, the court will consider several factors, such as the duration of the marriage, the age and mental and physical health of the parties, and the monetary and non-monetary contributions that each party made to the care and maintenance of any marital property and to the family’s well-being. Our Fairfax property division attorneys can explain how each of these factors may affect your case.
The court will also assess the circumstances that led to the end of the marriage, including whether either party was at fault, and whether either party used marital property for a separate purpose after the parties’ separation or in anticipation of divorce. Furthermore, the court will weigh the liabilities and debts of each party and the way in which they were accrued, in addition to how and when any marital property was acquired and the tax consequences to each party of a division of property. The court will evaluate whether the marital property is liquid and consider any other factors necessary to arrive at a fair division.Retain an Experienced Divorce Attorney
Generally, the way in which property should be divided is one of the most contested issues in a divorce. At Robinson Law, we have the skills and resources needed to help you protect your interests. Our property division lawyers represent people in Fairfax and in other areas of Northern Virginia. You can reach us at (888) 259-9787 or via our online form to schedule a meeting.