Incident to a divorce, the trial court has the authority to divide the marital property and marital debts of the parties. In Virginia, this process is called equitable distribution. The equitable distribution statute, which is found in Virginia Code Section 20-107.3, requires the trial court to classify, value and then divide the parties’ assets and debts.
In Virginia, there is no presumption of an equal division of marital assets and marital debts. However, often times that is the result. In determining how to divide the parties’ marital property and debts, the trial court is required to consider eleven statutory factors. Some of the considerations include the monetary and non-monetary contributions of each party to the family, the monetary and non-monetary contributions of each party to the acquisition, care and maintenance of marital property, the duration of the marriage, each party’s physical and mental condition, and the cause of the dissolution of the marriage.
Classification and valuation of assets and debts can be a complex, costly and time consuming process. For purposes of equitable distribution, there are three categories of property: marital property, separate property, and hybrid property (part-marital and part-separate property). An explanation of each category of property will be addressed in a future article. Contact a Locke & Quinn family law attorney to help guide you through equitable distribution.