Nine states in the United States are community property states, which means that marital assets are divided 50/50 during a divorce. However, Virginia is a common law property state. This means that marital assets are divided according to “equitable division,” which takes a variety of factors into consideration to make sure that each party gets a fair share of assets.
What is the difference between community property and common law?
Unlike community property states, which essentially divide your assets in half during a divorce, common law states take each party’s unique situation into consideration. The judge still aims to divide up the assets equally, but this doesn’t mean splitting savings accounts and retirement funds in half. One party could receive a larger share of certain assets than another if it helps them maintain their quality of life.
During the trial, the judge might consider each party’s finances, age, health and unique circumstances about their situation. The judge may consider which party makes the most income. Additionally, the judge may consider which party has custody of the children. If one party appears to be at fault for the divorce, this could also influence the judge’s decision.
Overall, the judge aims to divide up the assets in a way that seems fair and reasonable. If one party quit their job so that they could stay at home with the children, the judge might award them a larger share of the financial assets. Similarly, if one party caused the divorce by cheating or committing domestic violence, the judge might award them a smaller share of the assets. Each party’s contributions to their marriage, finances and household could influence how much property they receive.
How can you make sure you’re getting a fair deal in court?
Divorce can be a stressful and emotional process. An attorney may be able to look at the issue objectively and ensure that you’re being fairly represented in court. Additionally, an attorney might help you argue that you need or deserve certain financial assets, particularly if you’ve received full custody of your children.