What You Should Know About a Property Settlement Agreement (PSA) in Virginia
By: John Whitbeck
Almost every divorce that settles in Virginia will result in the parties signing a Property Settlement Agreement (PSA), but not everyone understands what this vital document contains.
In Virginia, a PSA is a contract that is agreed upon and signed between a married couple that addresses many childcare and economic concerns, including debt distribution and property division.
Typically, a signed PSA is the most substantial part of a divorce. In Virginia, the PSA is filed at the local courthouse in addition to all other divorce documents. The PSA will be submitted once you have lived separately and apart for a year (a mandatory requirement in Virginia). Our firm can further help you understand the particulars of the agreement and what you should or should not include in the terms.
What Goes into a Property Settlement Agreement (PSA) in Virginia
Typically, a PSA is comprised of several sections, including but not limited to:
- Parenting arrangements (child custody and visitation)
- Child support arrangements
- Alimony or spousal support
- Property and debt distribution
- Date of separation
- Waiver of right to discovery
- No-fault divorce
Parenting Arrangements and Child Support
Parenting arrangements lay out the schedule of custodial care. This section also outlines how child-related responsibilities will be shared among parents. These responsibilities include decision-making and day-to-day care for the child.
The child support section of a PSA sets forth the presumed statutory guideline monthly payment and the actual child support amount. In many cases, these two amounts differ.
This section of your PSA may also explain how certain child-related expenses will be covered when they exceed the monthly child support award (these may include out-of-pocket medical expenses, camps, tutoring, extracurricular activities, and many more).
Many parents also choose to incorporate provisions regarding payment of college tuition and related expenses when the child support obligation ends. In Virginia, this usually occurs when the child becomes 18 years old or graduates high school, though child support modifications may also be possible.
Alimony or Spousal Support
This section of your Property Settlement Agreement provides the dollar amount of spousal support, if any, and how it will be paid, and for how long either spouse must pay it. Specifying how much and how long when determining spousal support in Virginia can be tricky because courts don’t normally use special guidelines to calculate alimony like with child support.
This section also specifies whether or not spousal support modifications will be possible after both parties sign the PSA. If so, it may also outline the specifics of that modifiability. In some cases, the alimony section of the PSA may set forth waivers of the right to petition a court for spousal support at the time of signing the document.
Property and Debt Distribution
This section tends to be the most critical part of a PSA in Virginia because it sets forth all marital property and debt distribution. Marital property includes all assets such as bank accounts, stocks and bonds, real estate, automobiles, businesses, investment accounts, furniture, artwork, antiques, collectibles, and many more.
Typically, this section also lists all property that has been determined by the parties to be non-marital or separate. While Virginia’s family law provides that separate property is not divisible, the parties may choose otherwise. Finally, the section also clarifies how the parties’ debts will be handled during separation and after divorce.
To learn more about divorce, visit our Divorce Law page.
Related: Divorce Law
John C. Whitbeck, Jr. is the founder of WhitbeckBennett. His practice focuses on family law, special education law, and mental health law. He regularly practices in several jurisdictions in the Northern Virginia area. He has also been certified as an expert witness in litigation.