Property division is often one of the most complex aspects of a divorce. In dividing property, the court considers factors such as ownership of property before a marriage and one’s contribution to the family during the marriage, etc. Particularly for those who have large estates, it is vital to retain lawyers who are experienced in the intricacies of property division laws.
Property division laws both in Virginia and Maryland make a crucial distinction between marital property and separate property. Marital property (in some states known as “community property”) includes property acquired during the marriage which is not otherwise classified as separate property and must be divided between the two parties. Separate property is property acquired by one spouse before the marriage and property willed or given to one spouse by a third party during the marriage and is usually awarded solely to that spouse.
During a divorce, the court classifies parts of an estate either as marital property or as separate property. The court then determines an arrangement for marital property distribution. Lawyers representing both parties must make their case regarding whether parts of an estate are marital or separate property as well as how to divide marital property.
Division of Marital Property
In 1982, Virginia enacted an equitable division of marital property statute. As a result, marital property is divided "equitably" and not necessarily "equally." Once property is classified as marital, the court examines facts relevant to statutory factors in deciding upon an award of marital property to each party. The factors examined by the court include:
- Each party's monetary and non monetary contributions to the well being of the family
- The monetary and non monetary contributions of each party in the acquisition, care and maintenance of marital property
- The length of the marriage
- The ages and health of the parties
- The issues that brought about the end of the marriage
- The circumstances surrounding the acquisition of the property
- Each party’s debts, the basis for the debts, and the collateral for the debts
- Whether or not the property is liquid
- Any tax implications
- Other factors of the court’s discretion
Maryland on the other hand is an "equitable property" state. This means that all marital property acquired during the marriage should be divided equally, unless the court finds that equal division would be unjust. The court can take into account all the factors named above.
In short, it takes an experienced and capable attorney to demonstrate your claim to property and to clearly understand the many different provisions of Virginia property laws. Our lawyers can skillfully present your case for any type of asset, from your house or car to complex matters such as government retirement benefits, stock options, etc.