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Dividing the Property in a Virginia Divorce: Asset Division

In Virginia, the means by which the court divides the spouses’ property is known as equitable distribution.  Equitable distribution starts with the designation of assets and debts as marital or separate. The basic rules for classifying assets and debts are set out in companion articles.

After the court determines which assets are marital and which are separate (asset classification), the court will then decide about dividing the assets. Generally, separate property will remain the property of the owner and the court will order the apportionment of marital assets after considering the following factors:

The contributions of each spouse to the well-being of the family, both monetarily and non-monetarily.

  • The contributions of each spouse to the acquisition and care of the marital property, both monetarily and non-monetarily.
  • The length of the marriage.
  • The ages, mental health, and physical health of the parties.
  • “The circumstances and factors which contributed to the dissolution of the marriage,” especially issues of marital fault.
  • “How and when specific items of marital property were acquired.”
  • “The debts and liabilities of each spouse, the basis for such debts and liabilities, and the property which may serve as security for such debts and liabilities.”
  • “The liquid or non-liquid character of all marital property,” or in other words, how easily a property can be converted into cash.
  • The tax consequences to each party of any distribution the court may make.
  • Whether either party, in anticipation of separation or divorce or after the last separation of the parties, used or spent marital property for that party’s own “non-marital separate purpose” or dissipated such funds; and
  • “Such other factors as the court deems necessary or appropriate to consider in order to arrive at a fair and equitable monetary award.”

Equitable distribution of assets can be a complicated business and the court has great discretion in determining its apportionment. If you have property to be protected or apportioned, you need competent representation to make sure that the court treats your case fairly. Call the Law Office of Lori A. Michaud to protect your rights.


An outstanding job on my case to have custody, visitation and support decided in my home state instead of Virginia after I separated from military service.- A.E.