Do you feel like you have lost all the spark that was once present in your marriage? You have tried everything in your power to regenerate your love but, now it just feels like it wasn’t meant to be, and the only option that you are left with is to get out of your marriage by getting a divorce.
If you are not familiar and well-versed with the state’s divorce laws, property and assets settlement can be time-consuming or, worse; expensive.
Do you know about settlement and legal property claims of filing a divorce?
If not, you need to read this article to understand the What’s and How’s of applying for a divorce in Virginia.
Division of Property Acquired ‘On’ or ‘Before’ Marriage
It includes the property acquired by you and your spouse before marriage. Or on the day of the wedding as a gift (including cash) from a third person. It also includes the inherited assets received on the day of your marriage. All these assets are called ‘separate property’ in legal terms.
Distribution of separate property can get very complicated as it is not easy to prove which gift was given to whom during the marriage. Therefore, when your divorce proceeding starts, you need to inform your attorney about assets that you and your spouse own under the separate property to make settlement easier. [Va. Code Ann. § 20-107.3 (A)(1)]
Division of Marital Property
The marital property includes every property or asset purchased by the two spouses during their marriage (From the date of marriage till separation). The legal experts at https://ephraimlaw.com/ say that, even if official documents give the claim of certain assets to only one person, it will still be divided among both parties equally.
Additionally, if you have gifted something to your spouse, it will also be considered marital property. [Va. Code Ann. § 20-107.3 (A)(2)]
If you or your spouse owns any assets that were being used for the benefit of marriage, it will also be recognized as marital property (even if it is claimed to be a separate property ) [Va. Code Ann. § 20-107.3 (A)(3)(d)]
But, What about Marital Debt?
Just like your marital assets, marital debt will also be divided among both spouses equally. However, it only includes the liabilities acquired during the marriage and not any debt is taken before the wedding and not used for the wedding. [Va. Code Ann. § 20-107.3 (A)(5) and Va. Code Ann. § 20-107.3 (A)(4)]
Division of Hybrid Property
The hybrid property includes those assets which are part separate and part marital, such as premarital savings for buying a house, money contributed by both of you for retirement plans, etc. Though, to claim these assets, you need to provide proof of your contribution.
Now that you have understood how to classify all your assets, you need to understand Virginia’s equitable distribution system.
What is Equitable Distribution?
Well, it is pretty simple!
The Virginia divorce laws allow you and your spouse to settle all the property claims with the fair division on your own. However, if the couple fails to do so, the judge will decide for them at the trial. [Va. Code Ann. § 20-107.3 (B)]
Property Settlement Agreement
After you have decided about the property division, you and your spouse have to sign a Property Settlement Agreement (PSA). A PSA includes all the details related to divorces, such as asset division, debts disposal, child custody and support, and many more. The terms of the agreements can be tailored for both parties before signing.
PSA is crucial for the final approval of the court. Besides, it also makes the divorce proceeding much easier and less expensive. Remember, you should never sign a PSA without approval and the absence of your attorney.
The court will decide how much money needs to be paid by one spouse to the other as spousal support based on how much money each person gets in marital property. [Va. Code Ann. § 20-107.3 (F)]
The court will also consider the person at fault in ending the marriage to decide the amount of alimony to be paid. [Va. Code Ann. § 20-107.1 (E)]
Taking a divorce is a huge decision and involves various legalities. Once you have finalized about getting a divorce, you need to determine the property’s settlement you and your spouse owns. It is not very easy. You need to categorize all the assets (including business, real estate, bank account, vehicles, and debts) and then distribute them equitably among yourselves.
Since things might get murky during distribution, you should never proceed with your legal separation without an experienced family law attorney.
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