Many divorce cases in Virginia must progress on a step-by-step basis, addressing individual legal issues one at a time. Alimony, child support, child custody and property and debt division are issues that can each bring their own challenges to a case. And, the level of acrimony between the divorcing couple can present challenges as well.
But, once you get to the property division aspect of the divorce case, you will likely find yourself focusing on one legal term in particular: “equitable distribution.” What does this term mean, and how could it impact your life in both the present and future?
Equitable distribution defined
Quite simply, the term equitable distribution refers to the legal concept of dividing a divorcing couple’s assets and debts. Under this concept, the family law court will attempt to divide assets and debts in a manner that is fair, as opposed to one in which there is a 50/50 split between the couple. The definition of the concept, however, is where the simple part ends. The application of this concept to the facts of your divorce case is where it can get complicated.
What is fair? That is what you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse are likely to argue about more than anything during the property and debt division process, especially in a high-asset.
The family law court can consider a wide variety of factors in making a determination on this issue – unless, of course, the divorcing couple can come to an agreement. The potentially subjective application of the concept of equitable distribution means that there is quite a bit of leeway for a family law judge, and the potential impact on your life can be huge. If you are facing a complicated property division process in your divorce case in Virginia, be sure to understand all of your options.