Leesburg Equitable Distribution Attorney
Equitable Distribution of Marital Property in Divorce
One of the key issues in any divorce is the division of marital property. Even if you were only married for a short while, you likely acquired a significant amount of assets and debts that need to be allocated to each spouse in a fair manner. The Leesburg equitable distribution attorneys at Schwartz Kalina, PLLC, can help you achieve a fair distribution by working with you and your spouse to craft a property settlement agreement that meets your needs. If an agreement can’t be worked out, you can count on our experienced courtroom litigators to argue forcefully and effectively for your interests regarding the property division in your Leesburg divorce.
What is marital property in a Virginia divorce?
The courts first look at the character of the property as marital or separate property, which is not as simple as it sounds. Generally speaking, marital property includes all assets and debts acquired during the marriage, up to the date of separation. Separate property, on the other hand, is property acquired by one party before the marriage, but it also includes property acquired during marriage by non-spousal gift or inheritance, so long as that property is maintained separately.
To make matters more complicated, there is also a class of property that is considered part marital and part separate. This class of property includes instances where separate property increased in value or produced income during the marriage due to the efforts of the spouses. In these cases, the court has to decide the marital share of such property, which will be marital property subject to division.
To fairly distribute marital property, every marital asset must be accurately valued as well. The parties may disagree over the value of a particular piece of property, requiring professional appraisals or other efforts. At Schwartz Kalina, PLLC, we help our clients through complicated processes such as business valuations or divisions of retirement plan contributions and earnings. Other difficulties occur when separate assets are commingled with marital property. We work with forensic accountants and other specialists as necessary to trace funds to their source and make sure all property is located, properly characterized, and accurately valued.
How do Virginia courts divide marital property?
Virginia law requires courts to make an “equitable distribution” of the marital property. Equitable means fair, and while courts often strive to divide marital property as evenly as possible, an equal division is not always equitable. Family court judges look at nearly a dozen different factors to decide what kind of division is fair. These factors include:
- The contributions each party made to the well-being of the family
- The length of the marriage
- The age and health of the parties
- The grounds for divorce and whether one party was more at fault in causing the marriage to break down
- How and when specific pieces of marital property were acquired
- The debts and liabilities of each spouse
- Whether either party used marital funds for a nonmarital purpose or purposely dissipated funds in anticipation of a divorce or separation
A fair and equitable distribution of marital property is not just the law in Virginia; it’s also what’s best for you and your spouse to move on after a divorce. Our experienced negotiators and mediators, including a Virginia Supreme Court Certified family law mediator, can help you work out an agreement that meets your needs and reflects what’s most important to you. If necessary, our experienced litigators are also prepared to argue in court for a fair distribution based on the statutory factors and other relevant evidence.
Help with Equitable Distribution Matters in Leesburg, Loudoun and Fairfax Counties
For help with the equitable distribution of marital property in a Leesburg divorce or throughout Loudoun or Fairfax County, call Schwartz Kalina, PLLC, at 703-667-0954 to discuss your needs with a dedicated and successful Leesburg divorce attorney.