How property and debts are divided when you get divorced.
Virginia is a "equitable property" state. This means that all marital property acquired during the marriage should be divided equally. The "marital" property, consisting of any other property acquired by either spouse during the marriage, will be divided equally, unless the court finds that equal division would be unjust. Any property possessed by either spouse during the marriage is presumed to be marital property unless it can be shown that the property is actually separate property. A court can determine the rights of the spouses in any pension or retirement plan or their rights under any insurance policy.
How is property divided at divorce?
It is common for a divorcing couple to decide about dividing their property and debts themselves, rather than leave it to the judge. But if a couple cannot agree, they can submit their property dispute to the court, which will use state law to divide the property.
Division of property does not necessarily mean a physical division. Rather, the court awards each spouse a percentage of the total value of the property. (It is illegal for either spouse to hide assets in order to shield them from property division.) Each spouse gets items whose worth adds up to his or her percentage.
Courts divide property under one of two schemes: equitable distribution or community property. Maryland is an "equitable distribution" state, so the Court will adhere, as closely as possible to the following principle.
How do we distinguish between marital and non-marital property?
Very generally, here are the rules for determining what's Marital property and what isn't:
Who gets to live in the house during the divorce?
If children are involved, the parent who spends the most time with the kids, or provides their primary care, usually remains in the marital home with them. If you don't have children and the house is the separate property of just one spouse, that spouse has the legal right to ask the other to leave.
If, however, you don't have children and you own the house together, this question gets tricky. Neither of you has a legal right to kick the other out. You can request that the other person leave, but he or she doesn't have to. If your spouse changes the locks, or somehow prevents you from entering the home, you can call the police. The police will probably direct your spouse to open the door. When you both own the home, the only time you can get your spouse to leave is if domestic violence has been committed and a judge grants a restraining order.
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