In Virginia, anything acquired premaritally (before the marriage), which can clearly be traced into one party’s separate name, is their separate property or responsibility. If this premarital property was comingled during the marriage, it may become eligible for division. Let’s discuss what this means:

Examples of Separate Property v. Comingling Assets

To understand the difference between separate property and commingled assets, review these examples:

Real Property
A house purchased premaritally which was maintained with a bank account in a spouse’s separate name, which was never financially contributed to by the non-owning spouse, and which the parties never resided in together, would remain separate property. However, if the non-owning spouse contributed to the expenses associated with the property, or if the parties lived in the home together for an extended period of time, there is the potential for the house to be considered marital property.

If a spouse received an inheritance during the marriage and kept the inheritance in a bank account in their sole and separate name, it would remain their separate property.
If the inheritance was deposited into a joint account and used for marital purposes, it is considered “comingled” and became marital property. In cases involving comingled inheritance, the recipient of the inheritance does not have grounds to request reimbursement from the non-recipient spouse.

How to Maintain Separate Assets

Anything that is intended to be separate, not marital, must be kept completely separate in every traceable way. For example:

  • Bank accounts must be held in one person’s sole name to be separate.
  • The funds deposited into the account must be from the sole owner of the account.
  • Real property should remain deeded in the sole name of the owner.
  • Any assets acquired should be purchased with sole funds, not marital funds.
  • Marital funds may not be used to acquire or maintain anything intended to be separate.
  • Documentation must be available to support the claims of separate property such as bank statements.

When Debts Considered Separate?

A debt acquired premaritally, in a spouse’s sole name, remains their sole responsibility. A debt acquired during the marriage in a spouse’s sole name, which the other spouse was unaware of and which debt was not used for marital purposes, remains that spouse’s sole responsibility.
A debt acquired during the marriage in both parties’ names or in one party’s name specifically for marital purposes is considered a marital debt.

How can The Hopkins Law Firm help me?
Sometimes it is difficult to determine if an asset or debt is considered separate or marital. The attorneys at The Hopkins Law Firm are ready to help clients understand how the Court will view their specific circumstances. Based upon their expertise, they will 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.


Scroll to Top