Be Careful With Real Estate when Divorcing
In many cases spouses own their primary residence or other real property as tenants by the entirety. This is a special form of ownership available to married couples in Virginia. Property held as tenants by the entirety are often protected from a creditor of only one spouse. This protection, however, disappears upon the entry of a final order of divorce. At that moment, the spouses become tenants in common. If a creditor of one spouse has a judgment lien, that lien will immediately encumber the property. Moreover, from the time of divorce onward, creditors of just one spouse will be able to obtain a lien against the property.
Because of these issues, it is very important to determine before the divorce is finalized whether either spouse has any liens recorded. If so, transferring the property prior to the divorce or other options should be considered.
Because the protection offered by tenants by the entirety lapses upon divorce, it is often not recommended that former spouses continue to own property.