Hybrid Property Classification after David v. David

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In an article posted in Docket Call for young lawyers Summer of 2014, lawyers review by attorney Drew Page the Supreme Court of Virginia completely reversed two decades of Virginia law regarding equitable distribution.

So what is Hybrid Classification?
In order to distribute property, the courts must first determine how to classify the property. Property can be classified as marital, separate, or part-marital or part-separate. The later being known as hybrid property. All classifications are determined based on when the property was obtained. If obtained during the marriage, it’s presumed marital. Otherwise, presumed separate.

Of course property can change if it increases in value during the marriage or the spouse plays a significant roll in maintaining the property. All must be proven of course.

The case of David v. David was about distribution of the husbands investment accounts which doubled during the course of their marriage. The wife did not dispute the ownership of the account and initial funds. The dispute was over the increase in value. The Hanover County Circuit Courts found that the husband’s personal efforts during the marriage caused the increase in value, thus awarding the wife half of the increase. The Virginia Court of Appeals had a different viewpoint.

A three-tier burden of proof was created to help the courts better determine divisions. Tier 1: the owning spouse has to prove the property was separate. Tier 2: the non-owning spouse then has to prove contributions were made during the marriage and the property increased in value, but, also has to prove their personal efforts directly caused the increase. Tier 3: finally, the owning spouse then has to show the increase was not due to contributions or personal efforts.

The Virginia Supreme Court erased every decision of the Court of Appeals involving burden of proof thus classifying the property as separate.

To read the article in it’s entirety, Docket Call for young lawyers Summer of 2014