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Separating Marital Property: What You Can and Should Fight For!

Rings next to gavel and a house

In a divorce, a couple will have to divide assets, debts, and property, and decide who should keep items of personal property. In court, all property in Virginia is categorized so that it can be assessed throughout the distribution process. Every object in an estate is typically categorized as separate, marital, or hybrid, and the court evaluates the property according to the respective spouses’ past ownership or contributions to the marriage. You can better comprehend divorce procedures by being aware of Virginia’s property laws and the way the courts see the marriage itself in regard to the property.

Which Things Are Considered Personal Property?

In the course of a marriage, a couple often combine their premarital possessions and gains personal property together. As a result, a couple must frequently treat the following as personal property when dividing this property through an agreement or legal process:

  1. Vehicles. Automobiles, trucks, boats, motorbikes, trailers, off-road vehicles and other “toys” fall under this category.
  2. Furniture, Electronics, and Household Goods. These are examples of personal property that should be contemplated in any division of assets.
  3. Exquisite Collections. This applies to any collection of items, such as wine, currency, artwork, or antiques. This comprises unique items that were presented as gifts to both spouses, possibly as part of an anniversary or wedding celebration. Gifts can be a tricky category, and depending on the circumstances, may or may not fall under the category of marital property.

The Classification of Personal Property by Virginia Courts

Because Virginia is a “equitable distribution” state, a court will distribute property according to its interpretation of what is fair, which may or may not be equal. In other words, Virginia is not a “50/50” state. Property is therefore not always divided equally. In determining equitable distribution, a court takes into account the circumstances surrounding the acquisition of the property. Property will often be categorized by Virginia courts into one of three broad groups:

  1. Separate Property

This can be defined as property acquired before the marriage or after the date of separation. A retirement account will probably be considered separate property if one spouse, for instance, had the account before to the marriage and did not make contributions to that account during the marriage. Courts cannot divide property that is not separate.

  1. Marital Property

Both spouses acquire marital property together over the course of their marriage. For example, a house bought during the marriage will probably be classified as marital property regardless of whether the title is in one or both names. The court may decide how to split property that is mandated to be shared fairly.

What About Pets As Marital Property?

There isn’t much to argue about if you purchased your dog or cat before getting married; you are the pet’s original owner and may take it with you. Your spouse has no rights to your pet since it is not marital property. However, it is possible one party may take issue with a large amount of money that was spent on the pet during the marriage, such as surgery, which can be taken into account by a court. But like other marital property, like as the house, bank accounts, pensions, retirement accounts, and automobiles, if the pet was bought or otherwise obtained during the marriage, it is regarded as marital property and is subject to equitable (fair) division. Virginia is not one of the states that treats pets like children, like California and Illinois, where a court can grant custody of a pet to one of the parties.

  1. Hybrid Property

Acquiring hybrid property requires using both individual and married finances. For instance, if one spouse owned a car alone prior to marriage but her partner made non-financial or financial contributions to its upkeep and care throughout the marriage, the court may consider the car to be hybrid property.

We can help you with deciding how your property is divided.

At the Law Offices of Daniel J Miller, we recognize that separating personal property after a divorce can be a complex and often an emotional procedure. If you have any questions, our experienced team of divorce attorneys is available to provide you with reliable legal assistance. To discuss your case in more detail, contact us here.

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