Divorcing couples in Virginia will usually need to split their belongings. Some couples have an easy time with this process because they already set specific terms in a marital agreement. Other couples will find that property division is a challenge because neither spouse wants to make concessions.
When property division becomes contentious, you need to be proactive about protecting yourself. If you can prove that some of your assets are your separate property, you won’t have to split them with your spouse under the equitable distribution rules applied in Virginia divorces.
What is your separate property?
Your life doesn’t just start when you get married. You have years worth of assets already accrued at that point. Your retirement savings, personal property and even home equity from before your marriage may be your separate property.
However, especially if you accrue interest on those assets during the marriage, the full balance may not be separate property. Additionally, there is always the risk of commingling or giving your spouse a claim to ownership because they had access to or control over your separate property.
The same risk applies to the other major category of separate property, which consists of gifts and inherited assets. Commingling or sharing those assets with your spouse can complicate property division later. However, if you can show that you have always held those assets separately or that you and your ex had a written agreement about your separate property, then you may not need to worry about dividing those assets in your divorce.
Understanding what constitutes separate property can help you protect yourself in your Virginia divorce.