When considering a divorce, couples should understand how property is divided once a settlement is reached or their case is decided in court by a judge. Virginia, like most states, considers all property acquired by a married couple as marital property, and this property is subject to being divided.

For the purpose of dividing marital assets, Virginia is an equitable distribution state, meaning property owned by both spouses will be “fairly” divided by a judge, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it will be a 50/50 split.

What is considered separate property?

In Virginia, assets owned by only one spouse are considered separate property. This includes:

  • Property owned, sold or purchased before a marriage
  • An inheritance or gift to one spouse during a marriage
  • Property purchased during marriage with income earned before marriage
  • Property purchased from income that came from a gift
  • Property purchased from a sale of other separate property

What is considered marital property?

Marital assets that a couple acquires during the length of their marriage include:

  • Real estate, including a home or investment property
  • Cars, boats or other vehicles
  • Bank accounts
  • Stocks, bonds, mutual funds and CDs
  • Pensions and other retirement accounts, including IRAs
  • Artwork and other collectibles

Is a business considered a marital asset?

A court could determine a business as either a separate asset or marital property, even if only one spouse is the legal owner. If the company was conceived before marriage and the idea gives it the most value, a court could determine it is separate. However, if the business’s value was forged by the time and labor of a spouse during marriage, the income of the business could be considered a marital asset.