Virginia is an equitable distribution state, meaning if you cannot agree on how to divide property, the court will divide your marital property fairly and equitably. Equitable and equal can mean very different things, depending on the assets and particular circumstances. As a result, the laws on property division can be difficult to understand. One spouse may receive more than the other, so you should know what to expect before agreeing to terms.
Here are things you can do to maintain your fair share.
Identify and list down all your assets
The court only divides marital property, so carefully classify your assets. You can keep all your separate property if you have not hopelessly commingled them with your ex’s assets or marital assets. Make sure your ex does the same. Any effort to conceal assets is illegal, and you have the right to request necessary documents, records or other evidence in the discovery process of the divorce.
Learn the true value of the assets
Joint bank accounts and money market accounts are more straightforward to divide than paintings, cars, jewelry, investments and property. Know what each of the assets is worth. More importantly, find out if they have the potential to increase in value over time or if they will eventually become a liability. Consider how market fluctuations and taxes can affect owning and selling these assets.
Keep your composure
Divorce is an emotionally turbulent experience, but you cannot let your emotions impair your ability to make wise decisions. Treat your divorce settlement proceeding as a business transaction more than a means to get back at your ex. The court views the marriage as an economic partnership. But also, avoid immediately agreeing to forfeit a certain asset until you know its true value. Prioritize your peace of mind over keeping the peace.
Property division is one of the most highly contested areas in a divorce because it lays the foundation of the new life you are about to build. The assets you get from the settlement can determine your future financial position.