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Division of Assets & Debts

Equitable distribution is the process of classifying, valuing, and allocating assets and debts as part of the divorce process. While the marital home is generally the largest asset owned by the parties, it is important to realize that all forms of marital property, including both tangible property (such as cars, boats, real estate, etc.) as well as intangible property (such as bank, investment and retirement accounts, stocks, etc.) are subject to division by a court in a divorce proceeding.

While most couples now seek an approximately equal overall division of marital property, an equal division is not required or even presumptively correct under Virginia law. In some cases, parties may seek and obtain, based on the existence and proof of certain circumstances, an unequal division of the marital estate. Even in situations where the parties seek an equal overall division, most do not divide each and every asset equally. In some cases, either the husband or the wife (or both) seek to remain in the marital home, and in other cases the parties sell the marital home, pay off the mortgage, and divide the proceeds along with the remaining assets and debts. In some situations, the party with the higher income takes a larger portion of the debt; in others, one party takes a larger portion of the retirement assets to provide the other party with liquidity and immediate cash flow.

Equitable distribution must be tailored to the specific facts of the case and to the client’s specific needs and goals. Due to the expense often associated with prolonged litigation of equitable distribution issues, parties should, if possible, seek to resolve the division of property through agreement. If the parties cannot agree, then their assets and debts are allocated by the judge.

Steve Raynor has been handling equitable distribution cases for over twenty years. Though most are resolved by agreement, Mr. Raynor has litigated dozens of equitable distribution cases, with marital estates ranging in value from hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars at stake. He has experience with cases involving business ownership, hidden assets, stock options, complicated retirement packages, and other complex issues. Please contact us to discuss any equitable distribution questions or issues you may have.

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