What Property Constitutes Marital Assets in a Virginia Divorce?

Family Law Attorney Claudia Zucker Of Fairfax, VA Discusses The Division Of Assets In A Divorce

When an individual is facing a divorce, once source of apprehension and confusion is the division of assets. Many people make assumptions about the division of property based on common sense notions that have no bearing in a divorce court. As a Fairfax, VA family law attorney, I'm frequently approached by clients who want to know what's going to happen to their houses, their cars, retirement funds, etc. The following information is intended to be a guideline for people with questions about how Virginia classifies marital and separate assets. For actual legal advice, contact a reputable Virginia divorce lawyer.

What is Marital Property?

For all intents and purposes, any assets that are purchased or acquired by either spouse after the date of marriage and before the separation are considered marital property. This includes real estate, automobiles, recreational vehicles and craft, furniture, stocks, bonds, mutual fund shares, ownership in businesses, et cetera.

Separate Property

There are some exceptions, which are referred to as "separate property." Any money or assets that are aquired through inheritance by either spouse during marriage is not considered marital property. Monetary assets acquired via inheritance must be traced in Virginia to maintain their separate character. A separate gift to one spouse is also considered separate property. Finally, anything that was accumulated by one of the spouses before the wedding or after the separation that can be traced to earnings that are separate belongs solely to that spouse. It is a complicated issue which should be discussed with your attorney.

Hybrid Property

This can occur when one spouse liquidates some property that he or she owned before the marriage, or inherited during the marriage, and uses the proceeds to purchase marital property. Usually that spouse's attorney must demonstrate how much of the proceeds came from the separate property. For instance, if a wife sells a house that she owned in Alexandria before the marriage to purchase a new place in Fairfax with her husband, then she may claim that some of the equity in the home is separate property even though the Fairfax house is titled in joint names and/or purchased during the marriage.

Prenuptial and Post-nuptial Agreements

One of the ways that attorneys will circumvent the marital property concept is by advising their clients to sign a prenuptial agreement before entering the marriage or a postnuptial agreement in advance of the purchase of any property that needs to remain separate.

The laws of the Commonwealth of Virginia are complicated with regard to dissolution of marriage and assets division. If you have any questions regarding asset division or any other divorce matter, contact a qualified Virginia family law attorney.

Virginia Divorce and Family Law Attorney Claudia Zucker

Do you need a family law attorney? Do you have questions about what property constitutes marital assets in a Virginia divorce? We invite you to contact us today at (703) 596-1005. We're always just a phone call away.