A Carluzzo Rochkind & Smith note: Following is an article by Virginia Lawyers Weekly. We did not handle this case, but it brings up important marital property points your divorce lawyer should be familiar with. For more than 30 years our divorce lawyers in Manassas have helped clients with such matters in Prince William County, Fairfax County, Woodbridge, and throughout Northern Virginia. If you have any questions or would like to schedule an appointment, please contact our law firm at (703) 361-0776.
Retirement account was marital property
By Virginia Lawyers Weekly – 7/27/2023
The trial court correctly ruled that husband’s retirement account was marital property despite husband’s claim that it was funded with income he earned before the parties’ marriage.
Classification of marital property
“Husband challenges the circuit court’s classification of LPL IRA #4765 as marital property. Husband does not contest that he opened LPL IRA #4765 during the marriage. Husband, however, argues that he adequately traced all funds deposited into the original LPL IRA #4765 from retirement savings he had prior to the marriage. …
“The property subject to classification are the funds in LPL IRA #4765, which is presumptively marital property because the account came into existence in 2017, after the parties married in 2014. …
“It was therefore husband’s burden to prove that LPL IRA #4765 was ‘acquired … in exchange for or from the proceeds of sale of separate property, provided that such property acquired during the marriage is maintained as separate property.’ …
“Husband claims that he funded the account with retirement savings earned by him prior to the marriage, thus the funds were his separate property and remained his separate property. We are unpersuaded by husband’s argument and conclude that the circuit court did not err in finding that LPL IRA #4765 was marital property.
“As evidence that he funded LPL IRA #4765 by income he made before the marriage, husband offered statements from 2017 showing the original funds deposited into the account. However, there were no account statements prior to 2017 introduced into evidence.
“At trial, husband testified that these funds came from prior retirement accounts from various jobs he had before the marriage. Husband’s testimony and a demonstrative exhibit summarizing his testimony as to the source of the 2017 deposits were the only evidence presented at trial in relation to the tracing of these funds to premarital sources.
“The circuit court was unpersuaded by his testimony. ‘It is well established that the trier of fact ascertains a witness’ credibility, determines the weight to be given to their testimony, and has the discretion to accept or reject any of the witness’ testimony.’ …
“Accordingly, the circuit court’s classification of LPL IRA #4765 as marital property was not plainly wrong, and, therefore, that classification will not be reversed on appeal.”
“The record supports the circuit court’s [$65,000] award of attorney fees. The circuit court explicitly stated that it had considered the parties’ circumstances, as well as ‘all of the equities of the case’ in awarding wife her attorney fees.
“The circuit court heard evidence regarding the financial position of the parties. The circuit court also granted wife a divorce on the grounds of cruelty and desertion. Wife’s attorney submitted an affidavit and detailed itemization of the fees.
“Considering the totality of the circumstances, we conclude that the circuit court did not abuse its discretion in its decision to award attorney fees to wife.”
Further, “[a]fter considering the record before us and all the equities of the case, we deny wife’s request for appellate attorney fees and costs.”
Beardsley v. Tolen, Record No. 0806-22-2, July 5, 2023. CAV (unpublished opinion) (Malveaux). From the Circuit Court of Chesterfield County (Johnson). Alexandra D. Bowen, Adrienne C. Fleming for appellant. M. Donette Williams, James M. Goff II for appellee. VLW 023-7-257, 8 pp.
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