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Tips on Dividing Property in Your West Virginia Divorce

Our West Virginia divorce lawyers offer tips on dividing property in your divorce.

Tips on Dividing Property in Your West Virginia Divorce

Going through a divorce is never easy. In addition to going through the process of filing for divorce and having to inform family and friends, you must go through significant changes in your relationships and your lifestyle.

Among the more contentious factors in any divorce is deciding "who gets what," or dividing your property. Arguments can easily erupt over claims to ownership of the possessions you accumulated during the course of your marriage.

At Mani Ellis & Layne, PLLC, our Charleston divorce lawyers understand the upheaval that occurs during divorce proceedings as well as how property division can affect both your emotional and financial well-being.

Based on our years of experience with successfully handling our clients' pre- and post-divorce matters, we have assembled the following information to help guide you through the property division process.

West Virginia Property Division Laws

When you are going through the process of dividing assets during divorce, it is important to be aware of how the court will treat your property.

Some states follow the community property rule in terms of asset division, in which all property is split 50/50. In contrast, West Virginia is an equitable distribution state. This means that all property is to be distributed fairly, which does not necessarily mean equally.

Under Chapter 48 of the West Virginia Code, a court must take into consideration a number of factors, including:
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  • The extent each party contributed to the acquisition, preservation and upkeep of the property.
  • The income, debts and other funds each party has at the time the distribution of assets goes into effect.
  • Homemaker and child care services provided by each party.
  • Uncompensated labor such as working in a family business.
  • Direct or indirect contributions made by one partner to further the income of the other.

Of course, divorcing couples have the right to make their own agreements on how their property should be distributed through a separation agreement that is reached through negotiations between their lawyers (often with the help of a mediator).

Steps You Should Take in a West Virginia Property Division

Steps You Should Take in a West Virginia Property Division

Property division can have a major impact on your future financial health. While dividing the property accumulated during your marriage is an emotional experience, it is vitally important to remain calm and level-headed and to be as practical as possible.

The following steps, taken either before or after you file for divorce, can help to ensure you get the maximum amount of assets you are entitled to receive:

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1. Make a list of your property.

Under Section 48-1-233 of the West Virginia Code, each spouse owns marital as well as separate property. Marital property is defined as property acquired during the marriage, while separate property is that which a spouse owned prior to and brought into the marriage.

Separate property also include gifts or inheritances received during the marriage such as money or land inherited from a deceased family member or gifts given to a spouse specifically from parents or friends.

Make a list with these two columns - marital and separate - and be thorough in going over everything you own. Do not forget to include financial holdings such as money market accounts, stocks and IRAs.[/su_note]

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2. Make a list of your debts.

Where there are assets, there are also debts. Make a list of all debts you have both individually and as a couple. Take care to include your mortgage, car payments and credit cards as well as any tax liability you have.

If your spouse owned a business and got behind on taxes, you could find yourself financially liable regardless of your actual involvement in the matter.[/su_note]

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3. Separate your mind from your emotions.

As  U.S. News & World Report suggests, remember to keep a cool head. Do not mistake how much you may have paid for something or its sentimental or emotional value for how much it is actually worth.

Whether you are negotiating a property settlement or going to court on the matter, keep in mind the total overall value of each asset to ensure you get the best settlement possible.[/su_note]

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4. Gather documents and close joint accounts.

If you have not already done so, set up all your own financial accounts, close joint credit cards and gather as many documents as possible relating to your holdings and your debts. If you and your spouse signed a prenuptial agreement, find it and review the terms.

By being prepared, you will be in a better position to negotiate a property settlement that is in your favor. Remember to be honest when listing property, debts and assets.[/su_note]

Unfortunately, spouses can and do hide assets from one another. While this is a common occurrence meant to "tip the scales" when dividing assets during divorce, our Charleston divorce lawyers have the knowledge and know-how to help you uncover these assets and work towards a fair property division.

Contact Our Charleston, West Virginia Divorce Attorneys Today

Contact Our Charleston, West Virginia Divorce Attorneys Today

If you or someone you care about is going through a divorce,  contact Mani Ellis & Layne, PLLC today. Our experienced Charleston divorce lawyers understand how important property division is to your financial well-being and security.

We can provide professional, aggressive legal representation and assist you in uncovering hidden assets so that you can pursue the settlement you deserve.

We serve the entire West Virginia area. Call or contact our Charleston office today through our online form for a consultation.

Category: Divorce


Mani Ellis & Layne, PLLC
602 Virginia St E #200
Charleston, WV 25301
Phone: 304-720-1000