Q: My spouse is the nominee for her parents international bank. Can I use that towards equitable distribution in VA?
I would like to know what course of action I have to make sure that she doesn’t get like 50% of our joint marital property while also having full inheritance of her parents bank cash. Can that nomination be used to help reduce our martial property distribution?
A: There are several issues to be addressed in your question. First of all, there is no presumptive 50-50% split of marital property in equitable distribution in Virginia. In fact, in published opinions, the Court of Appeals has repeatedly corrected a number of lawyers and trial judges who believe that is the starting point. Second, joint property and marital property are not the same thing. Title is not determinative of marital rights in Virginia equitable distribution, even though it determines burden of proof presumptions at trial. Marital property and separate property are defined terms in Virginia's equitable distribution statute - Code Section 20-107.3. Finally, your spouse's right to separate property - an inheritance or POD contract right upon the death of her parents - should have not any effect on equitable distribution, although you might argue it as a factor to be considered in addressing her need in a spousal support award, if it has actually been realized.
Your best course of action is to consult with an experienced Virginia divorce lawyer for representation in your separation and divorce.
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