If you are getting divorced in Virginia, you may have heard that property gets divided fairly, by what’s known legally as “equitable division.”
“Wonderful,” you say, “It is only fair that I get the house.” Sadly, it’s not you that get to decide what is and is not fair; it’s the judge — unless you and your spouse negotiate the property division in your divorce without the need for a court.
Fair does not mean 50:50; it means fair based upon several factors, including your individual financial situations, how long you were married and how old and how healthy you both are.
This equitable division of property does not include all property, either. It applies to your joint property or “marital property.” The law considers some property to be “separate property” and exempt from being included in the split.
If you came into the marriage already owning a house, this would usually be considered to be “separate property.” Equally, if Great Aunt Mildred left you her country cottage while you were married, this would generally be regarded as your inheritance and therefore, “separate property.”
“What about the penthouse suite?” you ask. The one that an unnamed stranger gave you — for reasons your spouse is unsure of, and you are not willing to admit to. That, too, should count as separate property as it was a gift.
Property division in a Virginia divorce requires great care if it is to be a truly “equitable division.” It is essential to understand the laws fully and present your side of the argument professionally and accurately.