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What factors will a Virginia court consider in property division?

Married couples in Virginia spend years or even decades accumulating property. They may have purchased a home, furniture, electronics, artwork, automobiles, stocks and more. Of course, not every union is meant to last, meaning that some couples may eventually face the prospect of divorce. That being said, spouses may not be so keen to let go of the property they spent so much time and money accumulating.

Nevertheless, one part of getting a divorce is property division. Virginia is an "equitable distribution" state when it comes to property division, meaning that assets (and debts) obtained during the marriage will be divided in a manner that the court deems to be fair, even if this is not an even 50/50 split. When making property division decisions, the court will consider a number of factors.

First, the court will consider how much each spouse contributed, both financially and non-financially, to the family. In addition, the court will consider how each spouse contributed to obtaining and maintaining property purchased during the marriage. How long the marriage lasted may be considered, as may how old each spouse is and what their mental health is. The reason behind the divorce may also be considered. When the assets were obtained and how they were obtained may also be considered.

Each party's debts, what those debts are based on and whether an asset acts as security for a debt may be considered. Whether the property can be liquidated may be considered. In addition, whether and how the assets will be taxed when divided may be considered. Also, if a spouse used marital assets for nonmarital purposes or if a spouse dissipated assets in anticipation of divorce may be considered. Finally, as a catch-all, the court may consider any other factors needed to meet a fair and equitable distribution of property.

As this shows, property division in Virginia involves more than just having the couple split everything in half and then walk away. There are numerous factors the court will consider when making its decision. Therefore, spouses who are going through a divorce may want to seek the assistance of an attorney, so they can better understand the property division process.

Source: Virginia State Bar, "Financial Issues in Divorce in Virginia,"accessed Nov. 26, 2017

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