3 Asset Categories in a Virginia Divorce [and Answers to More Divorce FAQs]

Q: How might charges of domestic violence impact custody and visitation orders?

Virginia’s Family Abuse Protective Order establishes three tiers of responses to violent or threatening acts that lead to bodily harm or that frighten a person into believing that bodily harm will occur. These responses include emergency protection, preliminary protection, and permanent protection. If there is a protective order against one of the parents, the court will consider that order seriously when devising the custody and visitation plan. Custody and visitation arrangements can be ordered through a permanent protective order.

Q: What are the three asset categories defined by Virginia divorce law?

Virginia law requires “equitable distribution” of the assets and liabilities from the marriage. All of the assets from the marriage can fit into one of three categories: marital property, separate property and hybrid property.

Q: What do these property categories represent?

Marital property is any property the couple “owns” together, but ownership is not strictly tied to how the asset is titled. For example, the equity in a home that is only titled to one spouse can still be marital property. Other examples might include, investment properties, brokerage accounts, businesses owned by either spouse, wedding china, cars, mutual bank accounts, retirement funds, patio furniture and works of art.

Separate property, on the other hand, is property that belongs to one spouse. These assets might include money from an account that the spouse brought into the marriage, gifts given specifically to one spouse and not the other, and inheritance given to one spouse. It is possible that property owned prior to the marriage can become marital or hybrid property, depending on how the property is treated, retitled or changed.

Hybrid property falls somewhere in between separate and marital property. For instance, let’s say you brought a Roth IRA into the marriage, but then you and your spouse both contributed to it over time. That will likely be considered hybrid property. Likewise, let’s say you owned a home or a parcel of land, prior to getting married. You and your spouse developed the property or rebuilt the home. The land or home then might be considered hybrid property. “Hybird” means part-marital and part-separate.

Q: How can you assign value to the marital assets and liabilities?

The answer depends on the asset or liability in question. In some cases, the process is simple: you don’t need a forensics team to determine the amount of money in a Roth IRA account, for instance: just look at the account balance. However, the process of assigning what portion of that value is marital, what portion is separate, and the calculation of passive growth for the portion that was separate at the time of the marriage, is more complex.

On the other hand, determining the value of more nebulous assets, like real estate holdings, jewelry, art, businesses and intellectual property assets, gets trickier. You may need to hire appraisers, business valuation experts or accounting professionals to get useful answers.

If you need assistance now with your Fairfax Virginia divorce, call our team at DiPietro Law Group, PLLC right now for a consultation at (888) 530-4374.

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