FAMILY LAW: PROPERTY DIVISION
Wondering if you’re being treated fairly when it comes to the division of assets in your divorce? As highly experienced Alexandria and Fairfax area family law attorneys, you won’t have such worries with us. At every phase of your divorce, we make your voice clearly and boldly heard in order to protect your property rights under the law.
Keeping an Eye on Your Valuables
In divorce cases, we regularly address the division of a wide variety of assets, which include a number of high-value items, such as:
- Retirement accounts
- Luxury items such as watches and jewelry
Divorcing spouses who fail to agree on the division of their property must submit their dispute to a court, which will use a process called equitable distribution to decide how the couple’s property will be divided between them.
This is a complicated area of divorce law. We have an in-depth understanding of the calculations, legal nuances, and recent developments in the law that inform a court’s equitable distribution of property. Here is a brief overview:
- The court values the property, determines which property is marital, which property is the separate property of one party, and which property has the characteristics of both.
- The court then divides the marital property based on several factors, including each spouse’s monetary and non-monetary contributions to the marriage.
- Virginia Code 20-107.3 gives a more detailed explanation of the equitable distribution process.
Federal Government Divorces
We are experienced in addressing the unique concerns our civil, military, and foreign service members and their dependents have when going through a divorce. For example, military divorces include issues of service of process under the Service Members Civil Relief Act, issues of military pension division, which are governed by the Uniform Former Spouse Protection Act, issues of health insurance, housing, dependency allowances, and many other benefits that are unique to military families.
Federal government divorces include division of pensions earned under the Federal Employee Retirement System and the Civil Service Retirement System. We have experience in all areas of military and federal divorces, especially in retirement benefits, as we have been successful in obtaining annuities and survivor benefits for countless spouses. We have also been successful in protecting a service member’s pension from being unfairly divided on many occasions. We are proud of our experience in this area, and our years of service to the individuals and families who are serving our country.
Dividing and Distributing Retirement Benefits in Divorce
Most retirement plans are governed by federal and state law, and require special court orders to be divided properly. Many clients do not fully understand the nature and value of their own retirement benefits, let alone their prospective interest in their spouse’s benefits.
Retirement accounts are included in the marital property and must be divided, but there are rules and guidelines that govern how they will be divided. Therefore, it is essential you choose a divorce attorney who understands the complex process of filing and pursuing a claim for marital retirement benefits.
We will take the time to learn the details of your situation, so that we can identify your options and formulate a strategy that works toward your best possible outcome. We will prepare and file all the appropriate paperwork, and we will be your advocate in all hearings or proceedings.
We handle all types of plans, including:
- 401(k), 403(b), 457, IRAs and other defined benefit or defined contribution plans
- Military or foreign service pensions or retirement programs
- U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) retirement benefits
- Local retirement plans for government employees (including Fairfax County)
- Federal Employee Retirement System (FERS) benefits
- Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) benefits
- Thrift Savings plans (TSPs)
Ways to Divide Retirement Accounts in Divorce
The accounts can be divided in one of two ways: either as a transfer incident to divorce or as a qualified domestic relations order (QDRO).
- IRAs are often divided through transfer incident to divorce, which allows the assets to be divided without tax penalty. You must clearly report the division as such to avoid the tax penalty. It is also important to know exactly how the IRA was funded, however, in case nondeductible contributions were made.
- 401(k)s are often divided with a QDRO. Assuming that these were reported properly, QDROs are also tax-free and divide the money so that the receiving spouse can simply roll the assets into his or her existing accounts.
Military Divorce in Northern Virginia
If military spouses part ways, they face certain complexities they must consider during the divorce. We represent military families throughout Alexandria, Fairfax and Northern Virginia, and we understand those additional challenges. We provide the legal answers and solutions you need, and we ensure that your rights are protected, whether you are a service member or the spouse of a service member.
There are specific state and federal laws that dictate how your military status will affect your divorce proceedings. These include:
- The Virginia Military Parents Equal Protection Act
- The Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act (USFSPA)
- The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA)
Under these laws, there are specific provisions for how military benefits and compensation are to be divided during divorce, depending on the duration of the marriage. Dividing these benefits can be a complex and technical procedure, requiring experienced legal guidance. We provide clear guidance and explanations of all of your rights and options, as well as how your military status or that of your spouse will affect your divorce.
When you’re ready to call, we’re ready to help. Reach us at 703-836-9030, or contact us here.