10 FAQs About Property and Debt Division in a DC Divorce

By Barkat Law Firm

Here are 10 answers to frequently asked questions about how property and debt get divided by the court during a divorce in Washington, DC.

Q1: What is an uncontested divorce?

A1: An uncontested divorce is one where the two parties to the case have no contested issues to decide and are only asking the Court to grant them a divorce. In many instances uncontested divorce hearings are expedited. In regards to property and debt the parties must have an agreement regarding division of property and debt to proceed with an uncontested divorce.

Q2: How does marital property get divided in a divorce?

A2: The D.C. courts divide property using a process called “equitable distribution.” Equitable distribution is determined through a Judge’s evaluation of a series of factors found in the D.C. Code. Those factors can be seen here.

Q3: What is considered marital property?

A3: Marital property is any property that was acquired during the marriage.

Q4: What is considered separate property?

A4: Separate property is any property that was acquired prior to the marriage.

Q5: How does the court value property?

A5: The court values property as of the time of the divorce. The court can accept various forms of evidence in regards to what value to assign a piece of property.

Q6; What is marital debt?

A6: Marital debt is any debt that was acquired during the marriage?

Q7: What is separate debt?

A7: Separate debt is any debt that was acquired prior to the marriage?

Q8: How does marital debt get divided?

A8: Marital debt gets divided through the process of equitable distribution discussed above in A2.

Q9: How are retirement accounts and pensions divided in a divorce?

A9: The court will begin by valuing the amount of the account that was acquired during the marriage. That share of the account, referred to as the marital share, is then subject to equitable distribution.

Q10: How are retirement account funds transferred?

A10: Funds are typically transferred using what is commonly referred to as a Qualified Domestic Relations Order. These orders direct the plan administrator to distribute a portion of the account to an alternate payee.