Ways to protect non-marital property in event of divorce


Getting married is a big decision, but so, too, is the choice to get divorced. When couples decide to dissolve their marriage, there are often many legal issues that must be addressed, which can give rise to heated emotions. Perhaps one of the most contentious issues amongst the divorce process is property division. Fairly dividing marital property can be difficult, particularly when the parties involved are attached to certain items. Hopefully these tips will help Virginians better understand what they can do to protect their property and ensure a fair resolution in the event of a divorce.

The first tip is to consider creating a prenuptial agreement prior to marriage, or a postnuptial agreement after marriage. These agreements can help delineate which property belongs to whom and how property will be divided in the event of divorce. Second, individuals should maintain accurate records regarding non-marital property. By documenting gifts and inheritances, an individual may be able to ensure that the property is not subject to property division via the divorce process. Third, if an individual intents to keep non-marital property separate from marital property, then he or she should not commingle it with marital property.

Those concerned about their non-marital property should refrain from certain acts, too. For example, they should not pay off marital debts with non-marital funds, open bank accounts to commingle, and assume that a business's increased value will not render it marital property, particularly if the increase in value is caused by one's spouse's contributions.

Marital property is subject to equitable division. This does not mean equal division, but instead a division that is fair given the circumstances. This gives courts a lot of leeway with regards to how they divvy up marital property. With this in mind, those considering entering a marriage or ending one should consider what they can do to protect their legal rights and their property. Speaking with an experienced family law attorney might be a great first step to doing so.

Source: FindLaw, "Managing Marital Property - Do's and Don'ts," accessed on Nov. 15, 2015

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