The Division of Property in a Georgia Divorce
Divorce can be filled with numerous contested issues. One of these is how marital property will be shared. If you do not walk out of the marriage with a fair share of the marital estate, you are likely to struggle financially as you pick up the pieces and try to get back on your feet.
Every state has its own rules regarding the division of marital property. Thus, if you are calling it quits in Georgia, it is in your best interests that you understand how Georgia’s marital property laws work.
How Georgia Courts Identify and Divide Marital Property
When a couple marries, Georgia law presumes that any property (debts and assets) accumulating from that day on belongs to both parties. Such property is presumptively treated as a marital estate.
In the event of a divorce, therefore, all properties that fall under marital estate are subjected to equitable division between the parties. This is not to say that marital property must be divided down the middle. Rather, the court takes into account a number of factors when determining what amounts to an “equitable” division of marital property.
Here are some of these factors:
- The duration of the marriage
- Each party’s contribution to the marriage
- Each party’s financial and physical conditions
- Each party’s current and future income capabilities
- The nature of the property in question as well as the tax implications upon division
What is the Difference Between a Marital Property State and a Community Property State?
Regardless of the length of the marriage prior to the ultimate divorce, all married couples shall own or inherit certain assets during their time together. State laws differ from state to state, with some states following the ‘marital property’ method of division of assets and estate, while other states prefer the ‘community property’ method.
Community property method dictates that the assets acquired by either spouse in the marriage are shared assets. In the event of divorce, these assets will be split equally. While nothing can be truly 50/50, the courts will attempt to keep it as close to an equal split as possible. If assets were acquired by the spouses prior to their marriage, these assets are not considered shared community property, but rather the property of the individual who acquired the property before taking their vows. As such, these assets from before the marriage will not be divided in the divorce.
Georgia, meanwhile, is a marital property state. The main difference is that marital property states do not believe that assets should be split down the middle, 50/50. Rather, marital property states such as Georgia divide assets under the beliefs of what the court believes to be ‘equitable and fair.’ Depending on the circumstances of the case, the court may decide to provide the bulk of the assets to one spouse over the other. Factors that may affect this decision include child custody, lifestyle, expenses, the financial status of the ex-spouses, spousal support, and contributions to each other’s careers and finances, such as paying for the other ex-spouse’s college education.
What Assets May Be Divided in a Divorce? And What Happens if it is Impossible to Split a Certain Piece of Property?
Several types of assets may be divided as marital property following a legal divorce. No matter who has the full ownership and title of an asset, if it was acquired by the married couple then it may be considered marital property and thus potentially vulnerable to the division of assets.
Assets that could be divided and distributed in a divorce include, but are not limited to:
- Real estate property such as houses, vacation homes, apartments, etc.
- Cars, boats, motorcycles, RVs, and other motor vehicles.
- Gifts given from one spouse to another may likely be considered marital property and thus vulnerable to the division of assets in a divorce.
- Retirement plans which have accumulated finances over the course of the marriage.
- If one or both of the spouses owned a business, they may have business assets that could be distributed following a divorce.
- Debts, investments, and loans can also be considered marital property. In a divorce, both parties may take responsibility for the remainder of a debt.
What Might Be Considered ‘Separate’ Property and Therefore Excluded from the Division of Assets?
Not all assets acquired during a marriage will be divided in a completed divorce.
Gifts from outside the marriage, inheritances which only named one spouse, and assets from before the marriage may be exempt from the division of property in divorce proceedings. Speak with a lawyer.
Getting the Help You Need
The process of dividing marital property can be acrimonious, to say the least. It is important that you protect what is rightfully yours before, during and after the property division exercise. This is where knowing your legal rights and obligations during the divorce comes in.
If you have any questions or concerns, please contact an experienced family law office such as Family Lawyers of Atlanta. Our law firm has an experienced legal staff committed to providing clients with respectful and compassionate legal services. Divorce can be difficult, even under the most agreeable circumstances. And, when things are more contentious, divorce can be one of the most challenging chapters that any of us may ever go through in our lives. But you don’t need to go through this emotional hardship alone. Trust in us. With our legal team in your corner, you’ll never be alone. You will be supported by dedicated and successful legal minds who have practiced their entire careers to representing clients such as yourself. And while every case is unique, we do believe that we have the experience and ability to assist you towards the most satisfactory outcome in your divorce case.
To speak with members of our legal team about your divorce case, please contact our Atlanta law offices to schedule your free consultation with our lawyers. In your free initial case evaluation, our divorce attorneys can help you better understand the complexities of division of property, and hopefully lend you the guidance that you need in order to feel satisfied.
To schedule your free consultation, please contact our law firm at 404-418-7777.