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Virginia Marital Property Laws

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.

The following table lists the main provisions of Virginia's marital property laws. See FindLaw's Divorce and Property section for additional articles.

Community Property Recognized? No, but Uniform Disposition of Community Property Rights at Death Act (UDCPRDA) adopted. (§§64.1-197, et seq.)
Dower And Curtesy Dower and curtesy abolished unless vested before January 1, 1991 (§64.1-19.2)

Virginia Separate Property

In Virginia, property owned by one spouse only is called separate property. This includes property that was purchased or owned before the marriage, or property acquired by gift, bequest, devise, or after the marriage. As well, if property was purchased during the marriage with income earned before the marriage, that property is separate property to. 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. If the idea of the business gives the business 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.

Marital Property in Virginia

Marital property includes income earned after the marriage, and before separation. As well, property purchased with money from marital property sources is marital property too. This may be true for property purchased after a separation or divorce if the former spouses' assets are not divided at the time of purchase.

Dividing Marital Property in Virginia

In the event of death or divorce, courts will have to determine which property is owned by one spouse only, and which property was 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. 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
  • Any other factor the court considers relevant.

If you would like to know more about Virginia's marital property laws, there are many divorce attorneys throughout the state with property division experience who may be able to help.

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