During divorces in Virginia, couples are required to divide their property equitably. The state uses equitable distribution rules rather than equal distribution rules, so your property should be divided fairly rather than 50-50.
It is up to you and your spouse to sit down and discuss how you’d like to divide your property. Since there is no assumption that a 50-50 divide will take place, you do need to be cautious about how you approach the division of your property. If you go to court over a dispute, the court will divided any property you haven’t allocated equitably, but that won’t necessarily mean that you get half.
Why would some states choose equitable distribution rules instead of community property?
Equitable distribution rules have some benefits. In equitable distribution states, neither person has to worry about having their property divided equally in the case that one person put more money or effort into the marriage. There isn’t an assumption that both parties deserve to receive half of the shared marital property.
Equitable distribution focuses on being fair instead of equal, which may actually be appropriate based on the circumstances of a person’s case. That being said, if you’re being fair, sharing everything 50-50 may be the fairest solution for your case, especially if you and your spouse both worked and invested into the relationship relatively equally.
How can you build a good property division case?
If you need to develop a property division case and negotiate or go to court, you will want to do a few things. First, sit down and write down all of the assets that you know that are your personal, separate property. If you have receipts or other proof of when you purchased items (and the purchase date was before your marriage), those documents will help.
You should also discuss what you’d like to get out of your shared property and be realistic about what it would take for you to settle your divorce case. If the other person won’t negotiate with you and you end up needing to go to court to litigate, having a list of the assets you want and supporting documents for that request will be important.