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Separate Property Contributions in a Virginia Divorce

By March 27, 2023Divorce

When you’re getting a divorce in Virginia, it is important to understand how tracing separate assets works. As you may already know, assets can be considered marital or separate

If a marital item gets separate property added to it, that can make ALL the property marital (we call this “transmutation”). The way to show that part of the property should be considered separate (i.e. not divisible by the court) requires a lot of work and research and is very document intensive.

It’s important to understand how that process works so that you can help your Virginia divorce attorney organize the documents we might need to “trace” separate property contributions. From our team at Slovensky Law, here’s some more information about the records we need to help you through this step of the process.

Real Property in a Virginia Divorce

There are many documents that can help us trace your real property.

These may include:

  • An appraisal showing the current value of the home.
  • A document showing the value of the home at the date of marriage (you may have been able to get the appraisal done by the lender at the time of sale). Unfortunately, Zillow or tax assessment values will not be good enough for trial, but they may be used for negotiation. The appraiser for the current value may need to provide a retroactive researched appraisal value. 
  • Any records showing changes in interest rates if the home was refinanced or the mortgage otherwise modified.
  • The “note” for the mortgage (Preferred, but not required, if the interest rate for the mortgage has not changed). This is not the Deed or the Deed of Trust but is often in the land records. However, you might as well get all three documents per transaction if you have to pull these.
  • Records showing the value/cost of separate and/or marital contributions to the property (remodeling/addition construction receipts, expert valuation of the contributions, etc.).
  • Records showing where the money for contributions to the property came from. For example, bank records showing that your separate funds paid for a new roof.
  • Records showing the payment history of the mortgage(s).

Other Documents for Tracing Property in a Virginia Divorce

Another important element to prove you have separate property is your retirement contributions. Here’s what we’ll need:

  • Statements showing contributions for the entire length of the marriage, including a statement showing value immediately prior to or after the marriage and a statement showing the value at the date of separation. 
  • Any rollover documents showing if the funds were rolled over from one account to another.

Other documents that could be helpful include:

  • Any documents showing that you took money out of a retirement or separate account, then deposited it into your joint account.
  • Any checks thereafter used to pay for marital property. 

Getting these documents together can be tedious, but working diligently to organize this for your Virginia divorce attorney will help us get you a better case result faster.

What About Your Engagement and Wedding Rings In Your Divorce?

Many spouses spend good money on engagement and wedding rings. What’s more, these rings can hold sentimental value. 

Once the marriage dissolves, clients often ask us who ultimately keeps these rings.

Under Virginia law, engagement rings are seen as conditional gifts and belong to the recipient once the marriage is completed. If you never got married, the giver of the engagement ring may be able to get the ring or its value back. Wedding rings may be considered marital property subject to division.

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