Equitable Distribution Explained
Equitable distribution” is the term of art used for describing the division of property in the context of a divorce case. Virginia is one among the majority of states that have adopted equitable distribution as the method for dividing marital property and debts in divorce.
In Virginia, marriage is considered an economic partnership. To determine a fair division of marital property and debts, Virginia law requires the following: that property and debts be classified as marital, separate or part marital and part separate; that marital property and debts be valued; and that such marital property or debts be equitably divided based on the statutory factors in Virginia Code Section 20-107.3.
How are the laws of equitable distribution applied?
In applying the laws of equitable distribution pursuant to Virginia Code Section 20-107.3, the courts in Virginia look at many statutory factors to determine how to fairly divide marital property in a divorce case. The initial step is to determine value of the property at issue, and whether it is marital property or separate property. In equitably dividing the marital estate, courts may order monetary awards to one of the parties, divide the property, order the property sold, or transfer jointly-titled marital property to one of the parties. Under Virginia’s system of “equitable distribution,” the court is not required to divide the marital property on an equal basis.
Pensions and retirement plans that were accumulated during the course of the marriage are also subject to division by the court as part of an equitable distribution award. However, by statute, neither party can receive more than one-half of the amount of the other party’s pension or retirement plan that accumulated during the marriage.
It is critical that you tell us all you know about your assets, as well as those of your spouse. The more we know, the more we will be able to help you. Property includes assets, as well as liabilities, real estate, and personal property, both tangible and intangible. Property can include houses, furniture, pensions, life insurance policies, annuities, retirement plans, businesses, antiques, valuable collections — almost anything.
For more information on equitable distribution, or divorce in Virginia, and to obtain specific advice on the application of the laws equitable distribution to your situation, please contact us to schedule a consultation. In order to prepare for your divorce/family law consultation, please visit our Preparing for your Family Law Consultation page.