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Divorces are often complex and difficult, and can be even more complex when the parties to the marriage have a high net worth. This issue of property division is never easy, but becomes more complicated and important when there are more valuable assets.

Marital vs. Separate Property

In Virginia, a couple’s property upon divorce is classified as marital, separate, or part marital and part separate. Marital property is jointly-owned property and other property (other than separate property) obtained from the date of marriage through separation. Marital property is subject to equitable distribution during a divorce proceeding. Separate property is all property acquired by one spouse prior to marriage and property obtained during marriage by inheritance or gift (other than a gift by a spouse). Gifts from one spouse to another are marital property.

If an asset is part marital and part separate property, special classification rules apply to determine which portion of the asset is marital and which is separate. Only the marital portion of mixed assets are subject to equitable distribution.

When dividing assets during a divorce, many factors are considered, including: the contributions of each spouse to the well-being of the family; the duration of the marriage; the ages and physical and mental conditions of the spouses; how and when assets were acquired; the tax consequences of dividing assets; whether assets are liquid or nonliquid; and the circumstances that contributed to the grounds for divorce. Courts can also consider other factors deemed appropriate to reach an equitable distribution. It’s important to note that “equitable distribution” does not necessarily mean equal. Courts aim to reach a fair division, but not necessarily an equal one.

Asset Valuation

When a couple has high value assets, there is more at stake financially in the event of a divorce. Determining the value of these assets is an important part of the divorce process. High net divorces often include assets that may be complex to value. Businesses, property, foreign investments, art, and other assets must be properly valued for there to be an equitable distribution. Assets are typically valued by experts and finding and selecting the right professionals are crucial parts of any high net divorce. Real estate appraisals, income tax returns, and other tax assessments may also be used for valuation.

Typically, assets are valued as of the date of the evidentiary hearing or trial during divorce proceedings. However, there are exceptions to this rule and a party may request that a different date be used for valuation. The valuation date used may have a significant impact on the ultimate valuation of an asset. Certain assets may require additional adjustments as a result of market changes after the date of separation.

During high net divorces, one spouse may worry about the other spouse concealing assets or lack of access to financial records. Additionally, spouses may not have the necessary financial information documenting whether assets are separate or marital property. In situations such as these, forensic accountants may be used to help locate accounts and other assets that may not have been disclosed. Forensic accountants can also assist in obtaining necessary financial information to make sure assets are properly classified and valued.

Spousal Support

Spousal support is monetary support paid by one spouse to the more financially dependent spouse after a divorce. An award of spousal support is based on many factors, including the obligations, needs and financial resources of the spouses; the duration of the marriage; the earning capacity of the spouses; and the standard of living established during the marriage. The court may also consider circumstances that contributed to the dissolution of the marriage, including any instances of adultery or other grounds for divorce.

You can read more about spousal support here.

High net divorces are complex and can have significant financial consequences. If you are involved in a high net divorce or believe you will be soon, contact our family law attorneys. Our attorneys are experienced in assisting clients involved in high net divorces and can help protect your interests.

What Other Clients Have Said About Our Family Law Practice

Highly recommended

Joanna Foard has been my family law attorney for the past several months, and I have felt so supported and attended to. She spent so much time with me on our initial consultation, and put me at ease and felt like a friend. My case has been very challenging and there has been so much uncertainty. I felt a relief just having her represent me. She got right to work without missing a beat and truly took my financial concerns into account. She has been honest and straightforward. She has not only been incredibly responsive, but she has shown she truly cares about my situation and wants to help bring resolve and peace. She responds to emails quickly, and if I call unexpectedly, she has either taken the call or returned the call in a timely manner. She is kind and supportive. She even sent a heartfelt sympathy card when I lost my grandmother. I don’t know any attorney who would take the time to do that. She is thorough and thinks out of the box. She is clear and concise, but that’s not to say she won’t take the time needed to ensure my questions are answered. Although she is not able to see my case through to the end due to her out-of-state move, she has never dropped the ball, and has only treated me with respect and consideration. I recommend her without reservation.


Clear and compassionate

I consulted with Joanna regarding a dispute over some intricacies of a contract. She instantly understood my case and was wonderful at quickly explaining what breaches had occurred and what options I had moving forward. When I didn’t understand a finer point, she was happy to explain it until I did. Speaking with Joanna is a pleasure and I cannot recommend her highly enough for her kind and straightforward professionalism.


Professional, Passionate, Proficient and very Pleasant to work with!

Joanna assisted with navigating a difficult divorce agreement when emotions were running high. My original lawyer failed to move proceedings along at an appropriate pace, and I hired Joanna to pick up from where he left off, and from Day 1 Joanna was on the ball, holding the opposing party accountable for their actions, and ensuring a timely and suitable resolution to our case.

She stuck to the facts, allowed the truth to be showcased, and stood her ground when personal attacks came our direction. With Joanna in your corner, you never have to feel alone. She will defend you and your position like a Pitbull if necessary, but was always great to work with, and carried with her an upbeat demeanor at all times.

I’d highly recommend Joanna’s services to anyone that needs not only professional representation, but also a friend as you navigate through a difficult scenario!


Amazing attorney

I can’t begin to tell you where I should start when talking about Joanna. She comes across very sweet and innocent, but once you get to know her she is like a lion ready to pounce. I hired Joanna to take over when our previous attorney switched the type of law she was practicing. She picked up in the middle and carried it all the way through. She really makes you feel like you are a friend and not just a client. I would give her 10 stars if I could. Joanna is amazing.


Look No Further For Family Law Representation

Obviously when you require legal services it’s awesome to find someone that you can be confident with and comfortable in your dealings.

Joanna Foard is that attorney!

She is easy to speak with, detailed when it comes to that moment when you stand before the bench and most importantly prepared.

What a relief to be represented in such a professional manner!

Thank you sooo much!


Professionalism, honesty, and efficiency… Joanna has it all!

I hired Joanna after a long drawn out battle of a divorce. Once I finished my divorce I went to Joanna with the intention of getting my child to my planned home with my new husband. Fast forward just a few months and we are now married and happily residing in Hawaii. Throughout the process Joanna was always honest, to the point, and efficient in what she expected of the courts and how my situation looked. I would recommend her to anyone looking for someone who can get results and be forthright in what you can expect.


Honest lawyer who keeps it real!

When you first meet with Joanna it is like you are talking to an old friend. She is very knowledgeable along with being empathetic to your situation. Don’t let that fool you though, as soon as the time is right the boxing gloves come on and she is prepared and ready to fight.


A Genuine People Person who Happens to Practice Law

Joanna was by far the kindest and most considerate attorney I have hired. From our first encounter through the conclusion of our case, my wife and I had no doubt that our best interest was at the forefront of her mind. She and her team worked efficiently to make the best use of the fees we paid. Joanna also expertly explained Latin-based legal terminology to us in plain English, so that we knew exactly what was going on. The case was resolved to our satisfaction and I highly recommend her services. I will not hesitate to pick up the phone and contact Joanna again, should the need arise.


The best there is.

Joanna Caccioppoli is a consummate professional, and more. She was extremely helpful throughout my divorce; not only with the outstanding legal advice she provides, but with empathy. Should you contact her, she is quick to get back to you. She works hard to get you what you deserve. She pulled my losing battle into an utter victory. I could not be more thankful to have had her in my corner.


Divorce completed in 8 weeks

Joanna was attentive to every detail of my case. She was available for my questions and returned my calls and emails promptly. Joanna’s attention to detail and compassionate heart made me know I was not just another file in her case-load. She is a compassionate attorney who goes above and beyond to make sure her clients feel cared for and know that she is taking care of them. She prepared me for court by running me through all the questions that would be asked, so I never felt off guard. Joanna made a very difficult situation as smooth and painless as possible.


We won !!!

Joanna represented me in a domestic violence stalking injunction case in which I was wrongly accused of stalking. She was thoroughly prepared for the hearing, and made sure to answer all of my questions before the hearing occurred so that I knew exactly what to expect, and what questions I would be asked. It is really unnerving to be accused of something that you did not do, and I am so grateful to Joanna for easing my fears and helping get the injunction dismissed! I would definitely recommend her to my family and friends, or anyone who needs an aggressive attorney that truly listens to your concerns and is totally on their side. I can’t thank you enough or recommend you enough, Joanna!



Ms Johana Foard and her colleagues took over my Divorce case that had been lingering for over 2 years with no hope in sight!!! My other attorney took advantage of me being out of State, after thousands of dollars! Within 3 weeks Johana and her staff closed out my divorce even after opposing counsel was dragging her feet and not sending in the signed agreement that my ex- wife and I had agreed on. Johana took it upon herself to make sure it happened! I would definitely recommend Johana and staff! Thanks Johana!!!


Professional Problem Solver

Joanna was an absolute angel! Professional, knowledgeable, compassionate and patient. She listened to gain understanding of my concerns. She outlined a plan in a clear and concise manner. She achieved the best case outcome for my difficult situation. Very pleased with the results, and have no reservations about recommending her to anyone in a challenging situation that needs resolving by a sharp, clear-thinking pro.


The Personal Touch

After consulting with a few attorneys, I hired Joanna to work my case because she made me feel at ease. I couldn’t believe how responsive she was to every question and concern I had. She often proactively followed up just to see how I was doing if she hadn’t heard from me in a few days. She is thorough, informative, and personable. Just what I needed while going through one of the most difficult times of my life.


Herculean Effort

Joanna is incredibly hard-working, understanding, knowledgeable, and responsive. Besides all that, she’s a pleasure to work with…which is so appreciated given the difficult issues she’s helped us work through. I’ve often thanked her for the Herculean effort she’s put forth on behalf of my family and me. I would highly recommend Joanna.