Division of Assets
Status of Property During Separation
During separation, to the extent that the parties agree, they are free to divide assets and debts prior to divorce. The court, however, will not usually intervene to apportion property during separation. At the request of either party, the court will enter an order preventing either party from transferring, dissipating or wasting marital assets, or assets that may be marital assets.
For joint accounts, unless the account is frozen, either party can access it and remove the assets.
For personal property, each party can be held accountable for what is in their possession, however, if a party claims they do not have an item, it can be difficult to disprove.
The Marital Home
The court is reluctant to make decisions affecting property until the final hearing, except to the extent necessary to preserve the marital estate. For example, if the spouse residing in the house needed additional funds to make the mortgage payment, the court can order a party (or the parties can agree) that a mortgage contribution will be paid and the court can order, or the parties can agree, that the spouse residing in the house shall maintain the house and pay the mortgage, taxes and insurance.
If the parties do not wish to continue residing together but cannot agree about which person will remain in the home, either can ask the Court to allow them to stay and exclude the other person. In determining whether to provide the requested relief, the Court may consider respurces of each party, the availability of alternate housing, and timesharing with the children.
Final Division of Assets and Debts Incident to Divorce
In Virginia, we have Equitable Distribution of Property. Not "equal" distribution... "equitable" distribution. What does this mean? It means that the court considers many factors about the assets themselves and who contributed in what way to the marriage. After considering the factors set forth in the Code of Virginia, the Judge makes a decision as to whom will get what. Who gets the couch, who gets the chair; who gets how much of the retirement assets, how the marital debt will be divided, and what the final disposition will be of the marital home, if there is one. The result may be 50/50, it may be 60/40, 90/10, or any other configuration.