Hers, Mine and Ours

By: Shannon Forrest

Generally, if you were married when you acquired it – whatever the item is – it is marital property. There are exceptions to this rule, but not many. There may be different rules in other states, but this is the rule in Virginia. In other words, even if you have been working hard, received your wages and bought a “toy”, a motorcycle, for example, from your own paycheck, “half” of that motorcycle is still the other spouse’s.

Is it only in your name? Well, you’re married, so that title is a legal fiction. A Court may act much the way a Trustee does in a Bankruptcy, and change the title of the item, just so it is split equitably. “Equitably” means “fairly”, not necessarily 50:50. For example, the Court might look at why you are getting divorced, that is, the grounds for your divorce and distribute the property 30:70. In fact, the Court considers 11 factors when dividing property fairly.

This Rule is why, when an attorney hears you are getting married, he immediately mentions a Prenuptial Agreement. It is one of the few ways to preserve property that does not become “hers, mine and ours”.

A note about retirement. Retirement, earned during the marriage, is considered marital property, even if it is paid as monthly income. Generally, the Court awards half the “marital portion” of a spouse’s retirement. The “marital portion” is the total amount of retirement you earned during the marriage. The Court uses a special Order that allows companies to apply this formula to retirement accounts so that they are split fairly. Again, a retirement account is treated like a piece of property, and the general rule of “hers, mine and ours” applies to it.

Tags: , , , ,

Comments are closed.