Divorce can be a challenging process, especially if there is property to split between spouses. The division of a house in a divorce is an important part of marriage termination, which is regulated by Virginia divorce laws.
What Happens to the House During Divorce Proceedings?
During a dissolution of marriage in Virginia, a house is likely to be divided between spouses if it is a marital property. Virginia is not a 50/50 or community property state but an equitable distribution state. So, the question of divorce and house can be confusing. If the couple cannot agree on property division, the court will decide what each spouse is entitled to in the divorce according to Virginia Code Section 20-107.3. The decision will be based on:
• Duration of marriage.
• Income, age, and mental ability of spouses.
• Nature and the amount of liabilities and debts.
• Other factors such as the monetary and non-monetary contributions of each spouse to the marriage, reasons for the breakdown, etc.
In the Final Decree of a Virginia Divorce, Who Gets the House?
In the final divorce decree, Virginia court determines who gets the house in a divorce. This document incorporates all the divorce terms, including the division of property. The property owned by spouses is broken down into three categories. A house, in particular, can be separate, marital, or hybrid property.
Usually, a spouse keeps separate property they acquired before marriage, and the court equitably divides only marital property. However, separate property can become hybrid if the non-owing spouse used their resources – physical, financial, or intellectual- to improve a house and significantly raise its value. This could be paying the mortgage or investing money or labor into remodeling the property.
How Do I Prove My House Is Separate Property?
To prove that a house is a separate property, ensure that only your name is on its title. Also, it is advisable to collect documents related to the fact of buying a house or receiving it as an inheritance or gift.
A house is considered a separate property if:
• One spouse bought it before the marriage.
• It was inherited by one of spouses or given to them as a gift.
• It was bought during a marriage but using the money that one party earned before the marriage, inherited, got as a present, or received from selling other separate property.
Many factors may influence the judge’s decision on property division, and it is always advisable to consult a professional lawyer before initiating a divorce process to protect your legal interests.
If I Get a Divorce, Who Gets the House My Spouse and I Purchased Together?
If spouses purchased a house together during their marriage, the court will divide it fairly but not necessarily 50/50, following equitable distribution in Virginia.
Spouses can also sell a house and divide the money after paying all the liabilities and mortgage if necessary. Also, one spouse can buy out the other spouse’s part of the property. If the mortgage for a house is not paid in full, you will need to refinance to get your spouse’s name off the title on the house.
If both spouses want to keep a house and cannot agree, the judge will decide how to split it, taking into account Virginia property division laws and the personal situation of each party.
Paul Bennett is an author and a recurring columnist for a range of legal advisory blogs. Leveraging his past experience as a family law attorney, in his articles, Paul brings a unique understanding of the legal intricacies of divorce. His goal is to help those facing the breakdown of their marriage get through the complexities of ending it with a clear plan and awareness.