In every Virginia divorce, marital property must be equitably divided between the parties. Equitable division is not necessarily splitting everything down the middle, but rather means a fair division considering the circumstances of the family.
Agree or leave it to the judge
The divorcing spouses can negotiate a detailed marital settlement agreement in which they divide the property in any way they decide. So long as the judge in the divorce finds it reasonable, the judge will incorporate it into the final divorce decree. Should the parties not be able to come to an agreement on division of marital property, the judge will make decisions about how real estate, personal property and financial assets will be assigned between the parties, applying the equitable division standard.
In many cases, it is in the interests of the parties to hammer out a property division agreement because they have control over the details. While they can present evidence and argument to the judge about what they see as reasonable division, the judge will make the ultimate decision, which is unforeseeable.
Reasonable valuation is critical whether the judge or the parties divide the assets
A crucial part of dividing a marital estate of any size is to be able to accurately place a value on each asset so that the parties and the court can assess what division would be equitable. Especially if the parties have unique property, luxury items or complex financial instruments or investments, getting the input of appropriate expert evaluators is necessary.
Examples of assets and evaluators might include:
- Real estate appraiser or broker for homes, vacation property, farmland, undeveloped land or commercial property
- Antique dealer or auctioneer for unique antique furniture, glassware and other items
- Jeweler for fine or antique jewelry
- Financial planner, CPA, stockbroker or forensic accountant for business valuation, stocks, bonds, retirement accounts, executive perks and other financial instruments
- Dealer or seller of particular types of assets like coins, vehicles, boats and yachts, motorcycles, technology and others
- Art appraiser or auctioneer for valuable artwork
- And others
An experienced Virginia family lawyer can assist a divorcing person in negotiating a fair property division settlement or presenting a case for this to the judge, if necessary, including expert evaluation opinions of important marital assets.