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Can titling impact property division in divorce?

| May 25, 2021 | Divorce |

When a married couple seeks to end their union, the issue of property division is among the biggest concerns. Some people may wonder whether the titling of property matters in a divorce. For example, if a couple’s marital home is under the name of just one spouse, does that mean the other does not have a right to a fair share of the asset? In fact, the titling of property is often not an overly important factor in determining property division under West Virginia divorce laws. 

West Virginia is an equitable distribution state, which means that property is divided in a manner deemed fair under the law, without paying much mind to formalities like the titling of an item. Items acquired during the marriage, for the most part, will be considered “marital property” regardless of where the money came from or who’s name is on the deed. Property acquired before the marriage is usually deemed separate property. 

This does not, however, mean that property is split 50/50. An equitable division will be determined by factors, which may include:

  • Contribution of each spouse (both monetary and in terms of labour, such as raising children) 
  • Length of the marriage 
  • Education and work history of the parties (for example, spousal support may be higher for those with a spouse who has taken a hiatus from work  

For those who may be worried about how titling will impact their rights, this could be welcome news. Others may wonder how to retain ownership of property they feel is their own in an equitable divorce state like West Virginia. Prior to the marriage beginning, exploring a prenuptial agreement with a lawyer may be one way to clarify who owns what should a marriage end. Postnuptial options can also be explored with a lawyer, and may depend on a variety of factors individual to each case.