In an equitable distribution proceeding, the court may divide jointly owned marital property, make monetary award, make a pension-based or injury-based award, or decree some combination of these remedies
Equitable distribution does not mean splitting property down the middle, but focuses instead on splitting property as fairly as possible. However, they ways that this plays out may not feel fair and equitable at all.
In Virginia, property will fall into three categories:
- Marital property – Any property acquired during the course of the marriage with joint marital funds
- Non-marital property – anything brought into the marriage, acquired after the marriage, or received as a gift; and
- Hybrid property – assets that are a mixture of martial and separate properties.
Once the Court has determined the marital property to be divided, the court must consider the following factors:
- The contributions, monetary and non monetary, of each party to the well-being of the family;
- The contribution, monetary and non-monetary, of each party to the acquisition and care and maintenance of the marital property of the parties;
- The duration of the marriage;
- The ages and physical and mental condition of the parties;
- The circumstances and factors that contributed to the dissolution of the marriage, specifically including any statutory grounds of divorce;
- How and when specific items of marital property were acquired;
- The debts and liabilities of each spouse, the basis for those debts and liabilities, and the property that may serve as security for those debts and liabilities;
- The liquid or non liquid character of all marital property;
- The tax consequences to each party;
- The use or expenditure of marital property by either of the parties for a nonmarital separate purposes or the dissipation of such funds, when such was done in anticipation of divorce or separation of after the last separation of the parties; and
- Other factors that the court deems necessary or appropriate to consider in order to arrive at a fair and equitable monetary award.
Marital misconduct may be considered by the court when dividing marital property only to the extent that the misconduct added to the “economic consequences” caused by the dissolution of the marriage. The Court of Appeals has suggested that the trial court may consider the negative impact of a party’s misconduct on the well-being of a family and the mental condition of the parties.
The advice I have for all client’s is maintain the status quo – don’t do anything drastic with the assets. This is because the court must consider whether either of the parties has used or expended marital property for separate nonmarital purposes in anticipation of divorce or separation or after the last separation of the parties.
Contact Nathan D. Baney to discuss your rights. Get Answers. Get Results.