Last week on this blog, we discussed how couples in Virginia who are about to be wed, or are already married, can keep separate property from becoming marital property. Keep in mind that marital property is considered to be owned by each spouse and thus is included in the divisible estate should the couple divorce. This is very important, since both spouses in a divorce have a vested interest in seeing that the property division process is fair and appropriate. Last week we discussed the "do's" of keeping separate assets separate. This week we will discuss the "don'ts" of keeping separate assets separate.
When a couple in Virginia gets married, it is possible that both spouses owned property in their own name before they wed. In general, separate property remains the property of the spouse that owned it prior to the marriage. Therefore, if the couple divorced, each party's separate property would not be subject to property division, unlike property acquired during the course of the marriage (marital property).
In addition to issues such as child custody, child support and alimony, Virginians seeking a divorce will have to reach an agreement on how to fairly divide their assets. Virginia is an "equitable distribution" state, meaning that their marital property will be divided based on what the judge deems is fair. Sometimes a couple's assets are split relatively equally in the property division process, but it is not a rule in equitable distribution states, where an uneven split of property may be ordered if that is deemed to be fair and equitable.
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.
The end of a marriage is often a time of sadness, anger, frustration, confusion and other turbulent emotions. You may feel like your heart is breaking, or that you are losing your sense of your place in the universe. By contrast, the process of divorce itself is often largely about money.
Property division concerns can be significant during divorce and couples divorcing in Virginia may wonder what to expect and how their property will be divided. Virginia is one of the states that follows equitable property division rules when dividing property when a couple is divorcing. Divorcing couples are permitted the opportunity to resolve property division concerns for themselves but if they are unable to do so, the family law court can step in and help.