Equitable distribution is the term used in Virginia to describe the process of dividing property and debts between spouses in a divorce action. The classification of property is extremely complex. Our lawyers frequently teach courses to other lawyers on family law issues. John Kitzmann, our firm's managing attorney, recently taught a course on equitable distribution to lawyers in Richmond, Roanoke and Fairfax. You can read the course materials by clicking Classification of Property in Divorce. More information about the program can be found by clicking this link: 2011 Virginia Trial Lawyers Association Family Law Program.
Virginia Code § 20-107.3 is the Virginia law which defines "marital" property, "separate" property and "hybrid" property. Only marital property and the marital portion of hybrid property can be divided between the spouses by the trial judge, while "separate" property will remain the sole property of its owner. As part of the equitable distribution process, a trial judge has the power to divide property, to order the sale of property, to divide debts between the spouses, and to order one spouse to pay a monetary award to the other spouse.
When dividing the marital property, allocating marital debt, and ordering the payment of a monetary award, the judge is required to consider the factors set forth in Virginia Code § 20-107.3. These are:
- The contributions, monetary and nonmonetary, of each party to the well-being of the family;
- The contributions, monetary and nonmonetary, of each party in the acquisition and care and maintenance of such marital property of the parties;
- The duration of the marriage;
- The ages and physical and mental condition of the parties;
- The circumstances and factors which contributed to the dissolution of the marriage, including adultery, sodomy outside of the marriage, a felony conviction, cruelty, reasonable apprehension of bodily hurt, desertion or abandonment;
- How and when specific items of such marital property were acquired;
- The debts and liabilities of each spouse, the basis for such debts and liabilities, and the property which may serve as security for such debts and liabilities;
- The liquid or nonliquid character of all marital property;
- The tax consequences to each party;
- The use or expenditure of marital property by either of the parties for a nonmarital separate purpose or the dissipation of such funds, when such was done in anticipation of divorce or separation or after the last separation of the parties; and
- Such other factors as the court deems necessary or appropriate to consider in order to arrive at a fair and equitable monetary award.
Our ExperienceWhile these factors may seem straightforward, in practice they can be very complex. A family law attorney must have a thorough knowledge of the many Virginia Court of Appeals cases that have interpreted these factors. Our attorneys routinely handle family law appeals to the Virginia Court of Appeals dealing with property distribution, including one of the most important recent equitable distribution cases. Our expertise in family law appeals has given our attorneys the knowledge necessary to obtain the best results for our clients. A sampling of our recent family law appeals work is below:
- Pascarella v. McCoy, 011 Va. App. LEXIS 8 (2011)
- Duva v. Duva, 55 Va. App. 286 (2009)
- Lightburn v. Lightburn, 2009 Va. App. LEXIS 459 (2009)
Contact UsThe attorneys at Davidson & Kitzmann, PLC have extensive experience representing individuals in divorce matters of all complexity. For additional information, or to schedule a consultation for a divorce matter, please call (434) 972-9600 or contact us.
Davidson and Kitzmann, PLC
211 E. High Street
Charlottesville, Virginia 22902
Tel: (434) 972-9600
Fax: (434) 220-0011
We are located in Charlottesville, but our lawyers handle cases in Charlottesville, Albemarle County, Greene County, Fluvanna County, Louisa County, Nelson County, Madison County, Orange County, Richmond, Roanoke, Harrisonburg, Staunton, Waynesboro, Augusta County, and across Virginia.