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Equitable Distribution: What is it?


In Virginia, divorce attorneys will often throw around the term “equitable distribution,” but people can often get confused about what that practically means for their divorce and why it matters. Equitable distribution specifically refers to the way Virginia courts can divide the property of a marriage, which can include both assets and debts. Before a court can divide any property, your and your spouse’s property must first be classified as separate, marital, or hybrid in nature, and then individually valued. This can be a lengthy process, sometimes resulting in multiple court trials, as each side can present evidence to support their positions.

After property is classified and property is valued, the judge must then examine the statutory factors in the Code of Virginia Section 20-107.3 to determine a final award regarding that property. In this context, an award simply refers to how the judge will divide the property. This decision will be based on no less than 11 factors, which include, but are not limited to, the ages and physical/mental conditions of you and your spouse, the duration of your marriage, and monetary and nonmonetary contributions by each of you to the well-being of your family, and tax consequences of dividing marital property. Sometimes, after weighing the factors, the judge will come up with an award for you and your spouse that may represent a 50%/50% split of property; however, “equitable” does not mean “equal.” The judge could also come up with another percentage split after examining the factors in order to produce the most equitable division possible.

Now you can see why the concept of equitable distribution can prove confusing. The most important thing to remember if you are considering, or in the process of, divorce, is that you have the best idea of what an equitable distribution award would look like with your specific facts, circumstances, and property. Our experienced divorce attorneys at Morris Williams LLC – A Family Law Firm are here to empower you to make the best decisions for your future divorce matter. Contact us to today to schedule your consultation at (757) 226-9425 or via email at admin@morriswilliamslaw.com.

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