All property acquired by a married couple after the official date of the marriage is considered "marital property" and thus subject to the laws of property division upon divorce. A few states recognize the concept of "community property" in which all possessions are divided equally, but Virginia and most other states do not. Instead, Virginia marital property laws consider the nature of each piece of property and which party is most likely to use a given item.
In the event of death or divorce courts will have to determine which property is separate property and which property is owned by both spouses. Virginia is an "equitable distribution" state. This means that courts will attempt to make a fair division of marital property, but this division will not always be exactly even.
What's Considered Separate Property in Virginia?
In Virginia, property that's owned by only one spouse is called separate property. This includes property that was purchased or owned before the marriage as well as that which was acquired by gift or inheritance during the marriage. If property was purchased during the marriage with income earned before the marriage, that property is also considered separate property. The same goes for property purchased from income that came as a gift or income from a sale of other separate property.
Ownership of a business may or may not be separate property, even if the business was conceived before the marriage. In that case, if the idea of the business gives it most of its value, then the business is more likely to be considered separate property. However, if the business's value comes from the time and labor that a spouse puts into the business after the marriage, the income earned from that labor is less likely to be considered separate property.
Virginia Marital Property Laws: The Basics
While there's value to reading the actual text of a statute, it rarely provides a clear, straightforward answer since it's written in legal jargon. For this reason, reading a summary of the statute can be very helpful. The following table lists the main provisions of Virginia's marital property laws and provides links to relevant statutes.
||Virginia Code. Title 20. Chapter 6. Section 20-107.3 (Court may decree as to property and debts of the parties)
|Community Property Recognized?
No, but Uniform Disposition of Community Property Rights at Death Act (UDCPRDA) adopted.
|How Is Property Divided?
There are a number of factors a Virginia court may consider when dividing marital property, including:
- Each spouse's income and liabilities;
- Whether a spouse owes alimony for a previous marriage;
- How long the spouses were married;
- Each spouse's age and health;
- Whether either spouse as a pension or expects retirement benefits;
- Whether either spouse can support his or herself financially;
- Tax consequences of dividing marital property; and
- Any other factor the court considers relevant.
|Dower and Curtesy
Dower and curtesy abolished unless vested before January 1, 1991.
Virginia Code. Title 20. Chapter 8. Section 20-147, et seq. (Premarital Agreement Act)
Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.
Virginia Marital Property Laws: Related Resources
For additional information and resources related to this topic, please click on the links listed below.
Learn More About Virginia Marital Property Laws from a Lawyer
Virginia's marital property laws appear to be straightforward, but it's never that simple when it comes to the division of property. If you're going through a divorce, or have questions about Virginia marital property laws, it's a good idea to consult with a local family law attorney who can help you understand your rights and what property you're entitled to receive.