Property division can sometimes be one of the most contentious aspects of a divorce. If you are planning on going through the divorce process in the near future, it’s good to know what to expect so that you can prepare yourself to fight for what you most want and need out of your marital estate.
Negotiating an agreement
The first thing to know about your divorce is that you don’t have to leave the asset division process up to the court. If you and your spouse are willing and able to work together and negotiate in good faith, you have the option of hiring attorneys and negotiating your own divorce agreement that divides your property up however you see fit.
After you create your agreement, the judge will look it over. If the judge decides that it is fair, they will incorporate it into the final divorce decree. If not, they will give it back to you with required revisions to make.
If you and your spouse are unable to come to an agreement as to how to divide your assets and debts, you may have to litigate the matter in court. If so, the court will come up with a divorce decree following a set method that the Virginia legislature established.
The two categories of property
The first step that the court will take is to sort all of your property into two categories – separate property and marital property.
Generally speaking, separate property constitutes things that you had before you got married. It also includes things that somebody gave specifically to you during your marriage, such as gifts and inheritances.
Marital property, on the other hand, is anything that you or your spouse obtained during the marriage. There are exceptions to these two categorizations, but in general this is how the court will see your property. The court will categorize your debit in the same way.
You will keep all of your separate property. The court will divide the marital portion of your property after taking into account several key factors.
Among other things, the court will look at the education, earning capacity, age and health of both you and your spouse. They will then apportion your marital property and debt in a way that is fair to both parties.
While divorce is often a brutal affair, it doesn’t necessarily have to be a long one. With proper preparation, good negotiating skills and open communication, you will hopefully be able to get through it as quickly as possible, and with a satisfying result.