Understanding Separate and Marital Property in Virginia

For many people getting divorced in Virginia, the process of evaluating a marital estate and coming up with a property division settlement that is agreeable to both parties can be filled with angst. This process can be especially difficult if you have a mix of joint and separate assets. Understanding how the state approaches these settlements is important for you as you embark on your divorce.

As explained by the Virginia State Bar, there are essentially three steps in the property division process. The first is the identification of all debts and assets. The second is the valuation of all debts and assets. The third is the allocation of all debts and assets as per the laws and principle of equitable division. But, what determines if an asset is marital, separate or even partially one or the other?

Separate assets are those owned by one person before getting married but may also be items received via gift or inheritance while married. However, gifts given by one spouse to the other are not separate property. Marital assets include anything in both people’s names or that was obtained during the marriage. Sometimes, assets are partially marital and partially separate. An example is a business owned by one person before the marriage to which the other spouse eventually contributes to. This contribution can be in the form of physical labor or intellectual skill or idea. In cases like this, the business may be a separate asset but some increased value or earning may be marital.

To learn more about property division valuations during a divorce, please feel free to visit the marital and separate asset page of our Virginia family law website.