Virginia statutes now provide for the “equitable” distribution of the marital property between the parties at the conclusion of the divorce. “Marital property” consists of all jointly-titled property as well as all other property, other than separate property, acquired by either or both of the parties from the date of the marriage through the time of the final separation. “Separate property” is property owned by one party prior to the marriage, property acquired after the parties have separated, inherited property and/or gifts to one party from a third person. Where “marital property” and “separate property” are mixed together or where the value of “separate property” is increased through the active efforts of either party during the marriage, then such property may be classified as “marital property” or as “part marital and part separate” property.
In equitably dividing the marital estate, the courts may order monetary awards to one of the parties, divide the property, order the property sold or transfer jointly-titled marital property to one of the parties. Under Virginia's system of “equitable distribution,” the court is not required to divide the marital property on an equal basis. Instead, the court will consider various factors listed in the Virginia equitable distribution statute, including the relative monetary and non-monetary contributions of each of the parties to the well being of the family and to the acquisition and care of the marital property, when determining how to divide the marital assets. Pensions and retirement plans that were accumulated during the course of the marriage are also subject to division by the Court as part of its equitable distribution award. However, by statute, neither party can receive more than one-half of the amount of the other party's pension or retirement plan that accumulated during the marriage.