Property Division During the Divorce Process in Georgia
Georgia is an equitable distribution state, which means that the primary objective of the court will be reaching a fair division of marital property rather than a strictly equal one. Nevertheless, a 50-50 split of marital assets will usually represent a starting point for property division in Georgia, subject to adjustment based on the specific interests and needs of each party. Our experienced divorce attorneys can guide you through the process of dividing marital property.
Requirements of Equitable Property Division and Protecting Your Marital Property in Georgia
In Georgia, 50-50 property division is known as equitable distribution. This means that property and assets are divided fairly and equitably between both spouses in a divorce. However, this does not necessarily mean that the property and assets will be divided equally.
Before dividing the property, it must first be determined what assets are considered marital property. In Georgia, marital property includes any assets and property acquired during the marriage, regardless of whose name is on the title or deed. This can include real estate, bank accounts, retirement accounts, investments, and personal property.
Once the marital property is identified, it must be valued. This can be done through appraisals or estimates. Once the value is determined, the court will consider several factors in determining how to divide the property equitably. These factors can include the length of the marriage, the age and health of both spouses, each spouse’s earning potential and financial needs, and any contributions made by each spouse to the acquisition and maintenance of the property.
In some cases, one spouse may be awarded a larger percentage of the property if they can show that they contributed more to the acquisition or maintenance of the property, or if they have a greater need for the property. Ultimately, the goal is to divide the property in a way that is fair and equitable to both spouses, even if it means that the division is not equal.
Marital Propterty Vs. Separate Property
The first step to dividing marital assets is to determine exactly what is and what is not marital property. Property acquired before marriage will usually be treated as separate property that will not be subject to division, but the non-marital character of an asset can sometimes be lost during the marriage. In some instances, a prenuptial agreement will dictate what property each party will be entitled to in the event of divorce. In other situations, such as a family business in which one spouse was a partner in name only, the issues may be less clear.
Protecting Your Business During a Divorce
Once it is determined that certain assets and liabilities are part of the marital estate, there must be an accurate valuation of the property. Our experience with business valuation as well as the valuation of family assets is a significant advantage in a complex divorce. We can help you identify the right ways to assess and protect the value of such assets as:
- Businesses including S corporations, C corporations, LLCs and family-owned businesses.
- Volatile or non-liquid assets such as stocks, bonds, collectible items or artwork.
- Professional practices including physician’s offices, dental offices, law firms, veterinary clinics and accounting firms.
- Real estate property including second homes, vacation property, commercial property or agricultural land.
- Retirement accounts and pension plans.
- Investments such as stocks, bonds, trusts or gold.
Many high net worth couples have executed prenuptial or postnuptial agreements that, if valid, will largely dictate the division of property in a divorce. If there is a strong disparity in financial strength or earning power between the spouses, arrangements for temporary spousal support or access to bank accounts will need to be made while the divorce and property division issues are pending. Similar arrangements may be necessary for the payment of marital and nonmarital debts such as mortgages, utilities, credit card bills, medical bills, student loans or taxes.
Hiring an Experienced Georgia Property Distribution Attorney
Even if you and your spouse can agree on how property should be distributed in your divorce, it is always a good idea to have an attorney that is familiar with property division in Georgia on your side. Georgia laws have specific requirements for equitable distribution that must be followed, and having an attorney can ensure that your rights and assets are protected. It is important to understand that equitable distribution does not always mean equal distribution.
Georgia considers marital property to be any assets and property acquired during the marriage, regardless of whose name is on the title or deed. This includes real estate, bank accounts, retirement accounts, investments, and personal property. Before dividing the property, it must be valued and then divided in a way that is fair and equitable to both spouses.
Having an experienced attorney on your side can help you navigate the complex legal process and ensure that you receive what is fair under Georgia divorce laws. The attorney can also help you get creative in your negotiations so that you can receive the property that you want or need. No matter how much or how little property you are dealing with in the dissolution of your marriage, a Georgia property division attorney can help ensure that your rights are protected and that you receive what you are entitled to. Contact the highly-skilled property division attorneys at Vayman & Teitelbaum, P.C.