Marriage is a financial union that brings together the savings, debts, and long-term investments of two individuals. By the time of divorce people’s finances are often intertwined and entangled in a mess that only a DC court can unravel.
This means that in addition to the emotional toll of witnessing a union that you’ve built for years crumble, you have to worry about the fate of your property.
Your best bet for overcoming the complexities of divorce lies in the people you choose to walk this journey with, and top of that list is your legal counsel.
Why Choose Us
Here at Petrelli Previtera, we know how physically and emotionally draining the divorce process can be. The courts are the last place any parent ever wants to determine the future of their kids, the ownership of their marital home, or who keeps the dog.
Unfortunately, it happens.We’ve seen the power that good legal representation has on a case and how it can bring clarity, hope, and peace of mind during the most trying of times.
That’s why we strive to provide the best, and over the years, we’ve built quite a reputation doing so:
- Our lawyers go beyond the billed to provide physical and emotional support
- Our lawyers are interested in the unique circumstances of your case and what it means to you
- Our lawyers will help you navigate the intricacies of DC law
- Petrelli Previtera is an inc 5000 law firm featured in the 2019 and 2020 releases of the Inc Magazine
- Our lawyers have more than 100 years of combined experience fighting for people like you
- We are one of the largest law firms in the nation, with offices spread throughout
To get started right away, contact our teams at (202) 519-0366 or visit our offices at 1717 K Street NW, Suite 900, Washington DC 20006.
What Is a Community Property State?
Before we get to the technicalities of property division in DC, we must first distinguish between community property states and equitable distribution states.
In a community property state, all marital assets, properties, and debts are subject to a 50-50 split at the end of a marriage.
As expected, a few exceptions and factors come into play to ensure that the division isn’t always an even split.
What is an Equitable Distribution State?
In an equitable distribution state, the assets, debts, and liabilities are subject to equitable distribution at the termination of the marriage.
It’s essential to note that equitable doesn’t mean equal division or a halfway split. Often, this split can be unequal so long as the judge deems it fair and reasonable.
Washington, DC, is an equitable distribution jurisdiction that applies the above property division principles.
How the District of Columbia Approach Division of Property
Once your division of property case reaches a DC court, the court will follow arrangements (if any) that you’ve made with your spouse on your property division.
If a couple has come to amicable terms on the division of their marital assets, the courts will not get in the way and will largely enforce the terms.
However, if you and your spouse can’t come to a consensus, the District of Columbia statutes on property division will come into play in the following steps:
- Determination of community property from separate property
Community property refers to all the assets and investments a couple made within the length of their marriage. All property acquired during a marriage is owned jointly regardless of the spouse that acquired it.
Examples of community property include:
- Real estate
- Retirement benefits
Separate property refers to all the assets an individual spouse owns before the marriage and any income or appreciation arising from that property.
Examples of community property include:
- Pre-divorce retirement benefits
- Any property in a spouse’s name that hasn’t commingled with marital property
- Valuation of Your marital property
The next step the courts will take is to valuate your marital assets, liabilities, debt, and the separate property of each spouse.
It’s essential to note that only the marital /community property that’s subject to division. However, the separate property has to be evaluated because it informs the court’s decision on equitable distribution.
- Equitable Distribution
With a clear picture of where each spouse stands financially and the valuation of the couple as a whole, the judge has everything they need to divide the marital property equitably.
Being an equitable distribution jurisdiction with no pre-determined formula, a DC judge will have a lot of latitude on the fate of your property.
In this case, the quality of your legal representation and the team telling your side of the story comes into play.
Factors affecting Property Division According to DC Law
The decision of a judge on the future of your property will be largely informed by the unique circumstances surrounding your marriage and separation.
Some of the factors that affect property division in the District of Columbia include:
- Length of the marriage
- Pre and Postnuptial Agreements
- The debts and financial health of each spouse
- Contribution of either spouse to one’s education
- The post-marital income potential of each spouse
- Whether the division is in lieu or in addition to alimony
- Contribution of either spouse to one’s career advancements
How We Assist with Your Property Division
Once you get in touch with us, our highly experienced and reputable lawyers at Petrelli Previtera will start collecting facts about your case.
Once everything is clear, they will assemble an elite team of legal minds, financial advisors, and experts and front a spirited and dedicated fight for your interests. Some of the services our lawyers offer include:
- Mediation or communication with your spouse (leave the difficult conversations to us)
- A coherent strategy and a way forward to replace all the confusion divorce may bring
- Emotional and psychological support during these trying times
- Complete understanding as we help you navigate DC’s divorce laws
FAQs about Property Division In DC
Here are some frequently asked questions that you may have about property division in the District of Columbia:
1. How does DC define property?
DC statutes define property as any assets, liabilities (debts), retirement options, pensions, stock options, and retirement benefits.
2. What happens to the marital home?
The fate of your marital home will depend on the unique circumstances of your divorce, with the judge having a significant say in the final decision.
3. How are retirement benefits divided?
The division of retirement benefits is an extremely nuanced affair. In most cases, the benefits during the time of the marriage are considered joint property at the time of vesting and are subject to equitable distribution.
4. What happens to our debts post-divorce?
Debts are considered marital property regardless of the party that accrued them in the first place. If the judge doesn’t liquidate your assets to pay your debts, they will be equitably divided between the spouses.
Tired of the Jargon? Let Our Lawyers Take Over From Here
You don’t have to keep trying to demystify the complexities of the DC marital laws. Leave that to our lawyers, and we’ll front a fight for your future and that of your loved ones.
For more information, contact us today, and our teams will be more than willing to help.