Virginia Equitable Distribution: To Modify a QDRO . . . or Stopping Scoundrels

What happens when your spouse liquidates a retirement account after the divorce but before you get your share of it?  Can the court enter a new order letting you get a share of another account to make up for it?  Or are you just screwed?  The Virginia Court of Appeals faced these questions in Forest v. Forest, Record No. 0836-12-4 and held that you are not just screwed. Continue reading

Virginia Equitable Distribution: The Negative Equity Scenario

How do Virginia courts address real estate having negative equity in divorce cases?  Well, sometimes they don’t address them at all.

In Fox v. Fox, Record No. 0643-12-1 (Va. Ct. App. 2012), the parties jointly owned two homes with significant negative equity.  The parties could not afford either home and they did not qualify for refinancing.  In addition, neither party was clamoring to have the houses sold any time soon given that they would each suffer a substantial shortfall on their mortgages.  As such, the trial court was left in the position where a spousal buyout was altogether impossible and a forced sale was hardly desirable for either party.  So was the trial court nevertheless required to divide these jointly owned homes per an equitable distribution under Va. Code § 20-107.3? Continue reading

Virginia Wedding Gifts: Lord of the Rings

Is a wedding ring or other wedding gift marital property or separate property upon divorce in Virginia?

Virginia Code § 20-107.3 defines separate property as, inter alia, all property, real and personal, acquired by either party before the marriage, and marital property as, inter alia, all property acquired by each party during the marriage which is not otherwise separate property.  So what happens when you receive a wedding ring before the officiant pronounces you husband and wife?  Would not the ring be treated as separate property because it was acquired before the actual marriage? Continue reading

Virginia Marital Property Division: Gunshot Bullets Aren’t So Bad for The Health Of Your Equitable Distribution

Virginia divorce proceedings almost always involve the equitable distribution of marital assets and debts under Va. Code § 20-107.3.  This equitable division is not guaranteed to be an equal division, but experience dictates that it almost always will be an equal division.  Your military pension will almost never receive special treatment.  Your new business concern, too.  Your lazy spouse’s failure to do much of anything worthwhile will likely not cause the court to bat an eyelash.  So what kind of facts would warrant a deviation from an equal division of the marital estate?  How about shooting the other spouse? Continue reading

Is a Student Loan Debt a Marital Debt or a Separate Debt in a Virginia Divorce?

Again a judge renders an uninteresting decision using an interesting rationale.

In the case of Damankah v. Damankah (CL-09-000345), the Salem Circuit Court determined that husband’s student loan debt acquired during the marriage and prior to the final separation of the parties was marital debt subject to apportionment under Virginia Code § 20-107.3.  The court then apportioned the entire debt to husband.  Continue reading