Property division is a key concern for divorcing couples. During a marriage, both spouses worked hard to create a life of comfort and financial stability. When the relationship ends, all the assets attained during the marriage need to be divided.
Not equal but fair
Georgia is an equitable distribution state. When considering how to divide assets, Georgia law recognizes that certain property clearly belongs to one spouse while other assets are martial. The court may not divide assets in an equal split, but the division will be fair. The court system may award one spouse a larger portion of marital property.
Separate versus marital
When reviewing assets for division the court determines if the assets are separate or marital. Separate assets include things such as gifts or inheritances and property acquired before the marriage. The original owner typically retains separate property. A caveat, a judge may consider property acquired before the marriage as marital if a spouse used marital money to pay off the mortgage. Assets acquired during the marriage are marital and subject to division. Marital assets include property, vehicles, retirement and investment account funds and other financial assets.
Georgia courts have complete discretion for distributing marital property. However, judges generally consider factors such as each spouse’s financial and non-financial contributions to the marriage, the financial status of each spouse and any future needs of the spouses.
Georgia also considers the conduct of each spouse during the marriage and throughout the divorce process. Spouses guilty of adultery or another fault that led to the divorce may receive a smaller portion of marital assets with the innocent spouse receiving a more favorable outcome.
Accounting for all separate and marital assets is essential for fair distribution and attempts to hide assets are not unheard of. Divorcing spouses should seek legal guidance to obtain optimal asset division.