When a couple decides to divorce, they should make every attempt to agree to a division of all marital assets and debts for the divorce to be finalized. This agreement is memorialized in a Property Settlement Agreement.
Some parties are able to agree on some but not all issues, and in these circumstances, they would enter into a partial Property Settlement Agreement, and the remainder of outstanding issues may be determined at trial by a Judge.

If the parties are not able to agree, there are two options available to them:
They may choose to attend mediation, wherein a neutral third party talks them through a fair disposition and memorializes the same in an agreement called a Mediated Settlement Agreement. Michelle Hopkins of The Hopkins Law Firm offers mediation services for these cases.

Or, if the parties are not able to mediate successfully, they may choose to seek the intervention of the Court. In that case, a Judge will determine a fair disposition via an Equitable Distribution Trial (also known as an ED Trial). The attorneys at The Hopkins Law Firm have extensive ED trial experience and are ready to represent your interests during your trial.

This article will offer some insight into what is most often divided in Property Settlement Agreements, Mediated Settlement Agreements, or at an Equitable Distribution Trial as part of a divorce proceeding in Virginia.

Real Property

Real properties acquired during the marriage are either deeded to one spouse, with the other spouse buying out their interest, or sold to a third party and the profits or losses divided.

Companion Animals

Companion animals are considered personal property in the state of Virginia. One party may agree to
maintain ownership of companion animals acquired during a marriage, or parties may choose to share custody, with the animals spending time at each of their homes similarly to how child custody or visitation may work. In some situations, companion animals acquired during a marriage are adopted by a third party if neither spouse is able or willing to retain custody of them.

Personal Property

Each party keeps personal property that is clearly theirs, such as clothing, jewelry, books and other
personal effects. Marital personal property, such as furniture, is divided between the parties. In the event of a disagreement over an item of property, some couples choose to alternate who has first choice or flip a coin. In highly contentious matters, some parties choose to have a mediator present for dividing marital personal property.


The parties agree which car they will each depart the marriage with. When a car is paid off, the title is generally transferred to one party’s sole name within thirty days of an agreement being executed. When a car has an outstanding loan, it is often refinanced into one party’s sole name or paid off with marital funds.

Intangible Assets

Bank accounts, investment accounts, retirement accounts, etc, are divided during divorces. Generally speaking, a joint bank account is divided equally based upon the parties’ date of separation. A party’s share of retirement accounts is calculated based upon the duration of the marriage and contributions made to that particular account during the marriage. Intangible assets can be a complicated asset to divide; the attorneys at The Hopkins Law Firm have extensive experience in this area and are ready to help you calculate the division of your accounts.


Any debts acquired during the marriage for marital purposes, such as a mortgage on the marital property, are divided between the parties. Generally, debts are either refinanced into one party’s name or one party agrees to be responsible for the loan with the either party providing their portion of the obligation to that party to pay towards the loan. Alternatively, if the property the debt was incurred to purchase is being sold to a third party, the proceeds may be used to pay off the outstanding balance.

Business Interests

If a party opened a business during the marriage, they may ask the other party to sign away their past, present and future interests in the company. Some parties choose to continue operating a business together.

How can The Hopkins Law Firm help me with dividing property and debts in my divorce?
Dividing property has the potential to be highly contentious, making strong legal representation essential in divorces. The attorneys at The Hopkins Law Firm are ready to help clients protect their interests and leave the marriage with their fair share. Based upon their expertise with divorces in Virginia, the attorneys at The Hopkins Law Firm have strategies available to protect their client’s interests and fight for a fair disposition. To schedule a consultation, contact The Hopkins Law Firm today via telephone at 571‐248‐2210 or via email at info@mhopkinslaw.com.


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