For those thinking about or who have started the process of getting divorced, one of the most common questions is how will assets will be divided after the divorce. Georgia divorce laws require that assets be divided fairly, but that doesn't necessarily mean they will be divided equally. The Atlanta divorce attorneys at KF Law, LLC are here to explain the process of dividing property in a Georgia divorce.
Marital Property Vs. Separate Property
Georgia is an equitable distribution state, which is a method of dividing property at the time of divorce. The process of dividing property in a divorce begins with accounting for all of the property and other assets each spouse owns. These assets are then categorized as either marital property or separate property. Only assets that are considered "marital" property are divided in a divorce.
Marital assets include any property or debts that either spouse acquired during the marriage. Examples of marital property may include:
- Bank accounts, even if they are not joint
- Homes and other real estate
- Retirement accounts
- Any other item that the couple purchased while married
On the other hand, Separate property is assets acquired before marriage or was gifted to a spouse during the marriage. Separate property may include an inheritance that was granted during the marriage.
However, just because an asset was purchased prior to marriage or was received as a gift or inheritance during the marriage doesn't mean it is always classified as separate property. If the separate property is "commingled" or mixed with marital property, it could become classified as marital property rather than separate.
For example, one spouse had a separate bank account before getting married. Then during the marriage, the other spouse deposited their money into the account. In this case, it may then be considered a marital asset.
Determining how to categorize assets and debts as marital or separate property may seem simple, but in reality, it is far more complex, especially for couples with large amounts of assets. A skilled Atlanta property division attorney can help determine the true nature of property in a divorce.
How to Divide Assets in a Georgia Divorce?
If the divorcing couple agrees on how they want to divide their property and debts themselves, they can do so rather than having a judge make the decision. However, for many couples, deciding who gets to keep what is far from easy. Therefore, the divorcing couple can submit their property dispute to the court, which will then utilize state laws to divide property and debts.
As mentioned above, Georgia is an equitable distribution state. This determines how property and debts are divided. Equitable distribution does not always mean that property will be split 50/50. Rather, property and debts are divided based on relevant factors that the court applies to the case to determine a fair split for each party.
To determine what qualifies as a fair split, the court examines several factors applicable to each unique case to decide how to split assets. Essentially, each spouse is awarded a percentage of the total value of their marital property. Each spouse may then get items whose worth adds up to their percentage.
During the division of property, one spouse may be tempted to hide assets in order to conceal them from the court so that they have extra property once the divorce is final. However, this is illegal and could lead to several consequences, including paying fines or even jail time.
Speak to an Atlanta Property Division Attorney
Dividing property is among one of the most difficult steps in the divorce process. To obtain your desired outcome in your divorce, you need the guidance of an experienced Atlanta property division attorney. The legal team at KF Law, LLC has extensive knowledge and experience helping spouses divide their assets. Our team is always available to answer your questions and will help you get the best possible results for your case.
Contact our Atlanta property division lawyers today at (678) 326-4611 to set up a consultation regarding your case.