Complex Division of Marital Property

Virginia Property Division – High Net Worth Divorce

We understand how difficult divorce can be and how complex the process of marital property division is.

There are many reasons why divorcing spouses might find it difficult to resolve property division issues. Often enough, the main reason is that there is quite a great deal of property to fight over.

Other reasons can include identifying particular assets as marital property, separate property, valuation problems for closely held or family business assets, or the enforcement of the terms of a premarital agreement in Virginia.

Whatever the specifics of your property division problem, the attorneys of Cravens & Noll can advise you of your legal rights while working toward a practical resolution of the issues through mediation and negotiation when possible, or litigation when necessary. Contact our divorce attorneys in Richmond, VA for an initial consultation about your options.

Dividing Marital Assets in an Equitable Distribution State

If you’re undergoing a divorce in the state of Virginia and unable to come to an agreement with your spouse on the division of marital property, courts will focus on the equitable distribution of those assets.

The equitable distribution model of marital property follows the principle that property will be divided fairly (this does not always mean equally) between spouses.

During the duration of a divorce process, spouses will have opportunities to divide their property amongst themselves. If the division is unable to be agreed upon, then the VIrginia courts will decide on which property will go to whom.

This division of property is not always physical, however.

Some cases, in alignment with equitable distribution, will evaluate the value of shared, marital property and distribute them based on their net value. In other cases, courts can award the spouses a percentage of the total value of a piece of property. In that scenario, personal property, assets and debts that add up to that assigned percentage, will be given to the spouse.

What is Considered in an Equitable Distribution State?

When determining what property in a marriage will be divided between spouses, courts and lawyers will evaluate the following aspects:

  • The length of the marriage
  • The age of each spouse
  • The income, property and debt of each spouse
  • The mental and physical health of each spouse
  • The need to occupy and/or own a marital home and other household property for the custodial parent (if couple has children)
  • Contributions to other’s professional and educational opportunities (directly or indirectly)
  • Other factors

Types of Property in a Virginia Marriage

In a divorce case, there are typically two types of property: separate and marital.

Separate Property

Separate property is any property that was acquired by a spouse prior to their marriage. Whatever you owned before getting married, anything you received from inheritance or as a gift will constitute as separate property.

However, if the value of your separate property increased during the duration of your marriage, it could arguably be marital property.  Additionally, if the other spouse contributed to the increase in value it could be considered part separate – part marita.

Marital Property

Simply put, any property that is jointly-tied, or is property acquired during marriage, is considered marital property. This includes physical assets as well as debt.

This property acquired or assets earned over the course of a marriage are subject to division. While not a comprehensive list, the following is subject to division if acquired after marriage:

What the Court Considers in Dividing Marital Property

As an equitable distribution jurisdiction, Virginia gives its family court judges very broad discretion in dividing marital property between divorcing spouses. The objective is not to achieve a strictly equal division of property between the parties, but to divide the assets and liabilities of the marriage fairly between them in light of many factors such as:

  • The contributions of each spouse to the marital estate
  • The contributions of each toward child care and housekeeping
  • The ability of each to live comfortably on his or her own income
  • Other considerations.

Determining Marital Assets and Property Subject to Division

At Cravens & Noll, we work with you to develop a good sense of your objectives and concerns about the property division process.

We are here to help protect your interests while discovery and negotiations are ongoing. Our lawyers will review your spouse’s financial statements and make sure that all assets and income are properly disclosed. If your spouse is the active principle in a family business, we can take steps to make sure that the profits are protected and those operations are not manipulated to depress asset values.

If necessary, we can also use private investigators or forensic accountants to locate and identify hidden assets or fraudulently transferred property.

In military divorces, we can evaluate your rights not only with respect to pensions, but also the very substantial benefits available in long-term military marriages under the Former Spouse Protection Act (FSPA).

Very often, it is advisable to consider complex property division issues in connection with the resolution of spousal support claims. From a tax perspective, it will often make sense to make concessions on property division in exchange for a better alimony settlement—or the other way around, depending on your specific situation.

Contact Divorce Lawyers at Cravens & Noll Today

Whether your property division problems involve investment properties and stock options, the valuation of family business assets, or the recovery of your payments on your spouse’s old student loans, our detailed knowledge of Virginia divorce law can help protect and advance your interests.

Our experienced and knowledgeable divorce attorneys will help protect your valuable assets and the property that you hold dear. Contact us at either of our offices in Chesterfield or Henrico for an initial consultation about your property division concerns.

Complex Division of Marital Property FAQs

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Every case is unique, and that’s why you need professional legal counsel to help you decide your next steps. Contact one of our attorneys today to learn more.


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Lawrence B.

Great firm. They worked to get me a divorce without so much pain. Thank you one and all  

Family Law | Richmond, VA

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