How is property divided after a Georgia divorce?
Knowing what is at stake during the property division phase of a divorce can help a spouse protect his or her interests.
Though a divorce can be an emotionally charged time, it is also a period during which spouses in Georgia should make sure their rights are protected. It can be easy to succumb to stress and dismiss items such as property division, but doing so could result in missing out on important assets. Anyone in the state who is ending a marriage should know which property will be divided and how those decisions may be made.
What is equitable distribution?
In some cases, a couple may be able to reach an agreement outside the courtroom regarding how their assets will be split. In other circumstances, a judge will have to divide the property.
Georgia abides by an equitable distribution of marital property. As The Huffington Post points out, this means that the state will take into account each spouse’s circumstances in order to divide property fairly. The judge will factor in the following:
- The current financial circumstances of each spouse
- Each spouse’s needs
- Each spouse’s ability to earn an income
- Where the children shall live
- Each spouses’ age and health
The State Bar of Georgia reports that there is no set formula for determining how property will be divided.
What assets will be divided?
Only assets that are considered marital property will be subject to division. Marital property refers to items that were acquired after the marriage. That includes items such as income, retirement benefits and property. Anything that a spouse owned prior to the union will not generally be considered marital property.
However, there may be some exceptions. For example, inheritance or a gift received by just one spouse at any time is generally not included in marital property. Additionally, if separate property is commingled with marital property, there is a good chance that the separate asset will become a joint one. For example, if one spouse earns money before the marriage but places it into a joint bank account, a judge could determine that the money is now a marital asset.
What else should I know?
Forbes magazine encourages divorcing spouses to make a comprehensive list of all possible assets. Some items may be overlooked but have significant value. For example, collections or other memorabilia could count as a marital asset. Similarly, cemetery plots, memberships at certain clubs and benefits from a former employer may all be eligible for division.
Lastly, the Association of Divorce Financial Planners points out that spouses could try to hide assets to prevent them from getting divided. People who have concerns that someone is trying to conceal money or property is encouraged to work with a forensic accountant or other professional to ensure that the spouse is honest.
People in Georgia who would like to know more about property division should consult with a family law attorney.