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Dividing assets and debts are major tasks in any divorce

First you and your spouse decide to divorce. Then you must decide how to divide not only the assets you have acquired, but the debts as well.

Virginia is an equitable distribution state, where the goal is fair division of assets and debts, not necessarily a 50-50 split. Depending on your level of wealth or the length of your marriage, property division can be somewhat complicated in the Commonwealth.

Separate property figures in

A determination will have to be made as to which assets constitute marital property and which are separate property. The latter includes any property that one party owned or purchased prior to the marriage. It also includes property acquired as a gift. Marital property, on the other hand, consists of income earned or assets purchased during the marriage.

If you or your spouse owns a business, you might think of it as separate property. However, depending on circumstances, it could be marital property, even if it began before you were married. The difference has to do with factors such as the support of the business and where most of the value lies.

Dealing with debts

Just as you will divide your assets, you will also divide your debts. You and your spouse can agree to divide the debts equally, but it is more likely that you will give the debt situation more scrutiny. You might, for example, choose to pay off all your debts by selling something like a piece of property. You might also take on a certain debt if the other party agrees to give you a particular asset in exchange.

Outside help

A family law attorney experienced with divorce matters will tell you that every situation is unique. The goal of the court is to provide as equitable a property distribution as possible. The length of your marriage, your age and state of health and your financial status will be among the considerations. With the help of your attorney, the process of dividing assets and debts will go more smoothly than you think.


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Boyce, Leahy & Francescon, Lawyers
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Manassas, VA 20110

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