Virginia residents getting divorced commonly have concerns about how their assets–and their liabilities–will be distributed. Many people mistakenly assume that equitable division laws mean that everything is split equally. That is not true. Essentially, equitable and equal are not synonyms. Equitable refers more to an outcome that is fair and being equal is not the measure by which fairness is determined.

The Virginia State Bar indicates that the state first requires a thorough identification of a couples assets and liabilities. This includes everything that could be considered joint, separate or a combination thereof. From there, a current valuation of each item is required. Armed with this information, an equitable division settlement may be developed.

When determining ownership of assets, the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers explains that some assets can be owned partially by a couple jointly and partially by one spouse individually. An example would be a home owned by man before getting married that was later partially financially supported by the wife as well as the husband after they were married. Similarly, if a woman owned a business and later got married, any contributions to the business by her husband could deem part of the business jointly owned. These contributions could be in the form of effort as well as finances.

Virginia law takes multiple things into consideration when making equitable division decisions. Factors like how long a couple was married, why they were getting divorced and the tax ramifications of owning particular assets may all play into a final settlement.