Property Division Attorneys in Fairfax
Helping You Preserve Your Assets
Property Division Attorney in Fairfax, VA
When you plan for divorce, you likely worry about two main issues: child custody, if you have minor children, and property division.
Along with other financial aspects of divorce – such as child support and spousal support or alimony – property division is one of the most hotly contested areas in most divorce settlements.
To reach a reasonable agreement, protect your rights, and preserve your peace of mind throughout this challenging period, you need a skilled property division attorney if you live in Northern Virginia.
At DiPietro Law Group in Fairfax, VA, we can help you navigate the property division process in the Virginia Court. Please don’t hesitate to contact us today.
How Property Division Works in Virginia
Virginia family law courts divide property using the equitable distribution model. This means that, rather than splitting property 50-50, courts in Virginia aim for a fair division of all assets and debts. To achieve this, Virginia law requires:
- Classifying all property and debts as marital or separate
- Valuing all shared property and debts
- Equitably dividing all such property and debts
Under the equitable distribution principle, if the divorcing spouses cannot reach an agreement on property division, a Virginia family law court will distribute property depending on several considerations.
Relevant factors include:
- the contributions, both monetary and nonmonetary, of each party to the marital assets
- each spouse’s earning capacity or sources of income
- the length of the marriage
- other considerations
Marital vs. Separate Property
Virginia family law courts recognize that a married couple may have marital and separate assets. After divorce, each spouse will retain their separate assets, while marital property will split between the parties based on their mutual agreement or a court ruling.
So what counts as marital property in Virginia, and what does the law classify as separate property?
- Marital property, or shared property, comprises any property or assets the couple acquired during their marriage. This includes all income either spouse earned during the marriage, and any real property either spouse purchased using marital finances. The couple’s home, vacation or rental property, vehicles, valuables, and joint investment portfolios are all common examples of marital property.
- Separate property includes all assets that either spouse owned before the marriage, as well as any property acquired during the marriage with money the spouse had earned prior to the marriage. Examples of separate property include gifts or inheritance one of the spouses received during the marriage, or real estate that a spouse owned outright before the marriage.
In some cases, it may not be easy to classify property as either marital or separate. For example, if one of the spouses had a house in his or her name before the marriage, but later made mortgage payments using marital income, the house may eventually count as marital property.
Similarly, if one of the spouses had a business in his or her name before the marriage, but after the marriage the other spouse became involved in the business and contributed a great deal of time and work to growing it, any income the business generated would become marital property.
Factors That Influence Property Division in Virginia Divorces
When a Virginia family law court decides on property division in divorce, the following elements may impact the ruling:
- Monetary contributions. This includes both spouses’ financial contributions during the marriage, such as an earned income or using previously acquired funds for mutual goals.
- Non-monetary contributions. This includes mutually beneficial unpaid work like child-rearing, housework, and running the bulk of family errands.
- Each spouse’s earning capacity. Influencing factors may include health, relevant education, and work experience of both spouses.
- Both spouses’ financial conduct. If one spouse wasted marital assets or intentionally depreciated the worth of marital property, this kind of behavior may influence the court’s ruling in favor of the other spouse.
After considering all relevant factors, the court will view the couple’s shared assets and assign a fair market value to real property. Then the court will divide assets in a fair and equitable manner.
Of course, “fair” may mean different things in different scenarios. Working with an experienced property division attorney at DiPietro Law Group in Fairfax, VA, will help ensure equitable property distribution in your divorce.
What to Do If You Think Your Spouse Is Hiding Property
In the divorce process, both spouses have a legal obligation to disclose all their assets and debts. However, as you discuss financial arrangements, you may suspect that your spouse is attempting to conceal property. Divorce attorneys often hear statements like “I know he has another investment account, but he is denying it.”
Hiding property may take many forms. An unscrupulous spouse may convert cash from a joint account into tangible property and conceal it, use their business account to hide personal assets, or even transfer assets to offshore accounts.
If you believe your spouse dishonestly conceals property to rob you of your fair share of marital assets, talk to DiPietro Law Group. Our skilled divorce attorneys can guide you on the legal means you can use to reveal concealed assets, such as asking for a court order or even hiring a private investigator or a forensic accountant.
Just like assets, shared debts become split between both spouses during property division. Shared debts may include:
- Car payments
- Credit card debt
- Home equity loans
- Personal loans
What if one of the spouses ramped up credit card debt without the other spouse’s knowledge or consent? In these cases, a Virginia court may rule that the spouse who accrued the debt is responsible for paying it off.
A financially irresponsible spouse may cause your credit score to plummet. A low credit score may lead to unpleasant consequences for you, such as being unable to secure a loan on favorable terms.
Sometimes, a spouse can act in a vindictive manner and purposely open lines of credit in the name of the other spouse without their consent. If this happens to you, consider temporarily freezing your credit and contact us to talk to a property division attorney in Fairfax, VA. Our team at DiPietro Law Group can provide guidance on handling marital debt during divorce.
Should You Fight to Keep the Family Home?
Of all joint assets, the family home is usually the one with the most emotional meaning and connections for both spouses. Your home holds countless memories and represents comfort and security. If you have children who will primarily live with you, staying under the same roof after divorce can provide stability and spare a major upheaval.
However, in some cases, a family home can become a financial liability. If the property has a mortgage, or if your income after divorce will be too low to maintain the home, it may make more sense to sell the property, split the proceeds, and opt for more affordable housing.
Are you unsure whether you should insist on staying in the family home after divorce? Talk to us at DiPietro Law Group. We can help you reach a fair, equitable, and financially sustainable divorce settlement.
Will My Divorce Process Go to Court?
We strongly recommend that all divorcing couples work together through mediation and try to reach a mutually acceptable divorce agreement that covers all major points, like property division, child support, and a parenting plan.
Mediation can help you resolve conflicts in a non-confrontational, constructive manner. Mediated divorces are typically shorter, less stressful, and more cooperative. The mediation lawyers of DiPietro Law Group will work with you to help you achieve an amicable settlement.
In some cases – particularly when you are divorcing a very difficult, vindictive, or narcissistic-type spouse – negotiations fail. Mediation requires compromise, which may not work with toxic or highly unreasonable people. If mediation doesn’t work, our skilled divorce lawyers of DiPietro Law Group can represent your case in court.
Why You Need a Competent Property Division Attorney in Fairfax, VA
When you consider dividing marital assets, it may seem to you that the property division process should be quick and straightforward. However, to protect your legal rights and ensure that you receive a fair share of your joint assets, you need an experienced Virginia property division attorney.
While Virginia law does not require you to hire an attorney for your divorce process, a skilled legal team will help you navigate the family law system and preserve your assets.
As your divorce attorneys, our team at DiPietro Law Group can:
- Help you reach a fair property division agreement
- Assist you in mediation, especially if you are divorcing a high-conflict person with unreasonable demands
- Help you settle other financial aspects of your divorce settlement, such as child support or alimony
DiPietro Law Group has experience handling even the most complex divorce cases, including high-net-worth divorces and divorces that involve negotiating with a narcissistic-type spouse. We are here to help you figure out the financial side of divorce.
Property Division FAQs
Is Virginia a spousal property state?
Virginia is often referred to as an “equitable distribution” state. This indicates that courts try to divide property in a way that they find to be fair. This is in contrast to a community property state where a married couple’s property is split equally in half. Spousal or marital property may be divided equally in Virginia, but it also quite possible for one spouse to receive a greater share than the other.
What is marital property versus separate property?
Marital property is the property owned jointly by a couple. This property is divided up during the divorce process. Separate property consists of property legally considered to belong solely to one spouse. Property each spouse owns before marriage generally remains their separate property, although if it increases in value during the marriage, that increase could be treated as marital property. If one spouse receives a gift or inheritance, that is also generally treated as their separate property.
What constitutes marital property in Virginia?
Assets accumulated during the marriage are considered marital property in Virginia. Even if property is only titled in the name of one spouse, that property is legally owned by both. However, a couple can enter into a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement specifying that certain property will be treated as separate property belonging to only one spouse.
What is hybrid property?
Virginia law classifies some property in divorce as “hybrid,” meaning that it is both marital and separate. This usually involves property that started out separate and either increased in value or was co-mingled with marital property. For instance, if one spouse receives an inheritance and places the funds in a brokerage account owned jointly by the couple, the money in that account becomes hybrid property. If a spouse owns a business prior to the marriage but the business increases in value or the other spouse contributes efforts to make the business succeed, then that business could be hybrid property or completely marital property.
How does the court divide marital property in Virginia?
Courts in Virginia do not use a specific formula to divide property in divorce. Instead, they try to divide assets and debts in a way that fulfills the principles of equity. If property is titled in the name of only one spouse but it is technically marital property belonging to both, the court will not generally award that property to the spouse whose name is not on the title, but it would instead award that spouse cash or something of equal value.
How does the court decide on a monetary award, or what constitutes an ‘equitable’ division of marital property?
Judges consider a variety of factors, including the length of the marriage, the ages of the spouses, their contributions to the marriage, and whether either spouse has acted financially irresponsibly wasting marital assets. There is no impartial rule about what constitutes an equitable division of assets, so it is a good idea to ensure that your attorney presents the best arguments to show that your desired division is fair under the circumstances.
DiPietro Law Group, PLLC: Hire a Trusted Property Division Lawyer in Fairfax, VA
Divorce can be a difficult and stressful process, but your new life awaits on the other side. At DiPietro Law Group, we are here to help you protect your assets as you cross the hurdles of property division, mediation, and divorce settlement.
Are you planning a divorce? You need reliable legal advice on asset division in Virginia. Call us at (888) 530-4374 to schedule a consultation with a DiPietro Law Group property division attorney in Fairfax, VA.