Divorce in Virginia will spark disagreements about many issues. One that commonly comes up is how property will be divided. Even in cases where the sides are relatively amicable, some properties – specifically a family home – can be a source of contention. Knowing how the property will be categorized and what factors are assessed when deciding how it will be distributed is key. Understanding how the law addresses this potentially complex situation in a divorce can be difficult and it is important to have help.
Property division and a family home
If one party purchased the house before the marriage, then it can be considered separate property. If it was bought after the marriage and both parties contributed to its purchase, its maintenance and its improvement, then it could be considered marital property. However, some properties are part marital and part separate.
With separate property, the key is whether it was acquired before the marriage or was given to one through descent, devise or as a gift. If a person inherited the property from a parent, then it is theirs even if they were married at the time. A home purchased during the marriage, with both sides contributing to it in some way, is almost certainly marital property.
When property is commingled, it can grow more difficult to assess. One party might not have owned the property before the marriage, but they contributed greatly – through personal effort – to it rising in value. Perhaps there was an addition built onto the home to make it more marketable. The increase in value itself compared to what it otherwise would have been will be the key factor in dividing this type of property.
Experienced help can be essential
While divorce is often viewed as people fighting over just about every issue, not every case is like that. For some, the parting is amicable and they simply want to get on with their lives. That leaves open the possibility that they can negotiate a reasonable agreement for their issues – including a marital home. Still, that does not mean people should concede too much just to get the case over with.
Whether it is a difficult divorce or one that is relatively friendly, it is useful to be fully prepared. If an agreement can be forged, it is wise to have professional assistance to analyze the stipulations to determine if it should be signed. In cases where the sides cannot agree, are in dispute and must go to court, it is even more important to have guidance. To reach a positive outcome, representation from those with a tradition of experience and devotion to family law has great value.