Divorce can evoke a range of emotions for all parties involved, which can make it difficult to resolve conflict around important decisions.
One of the most critical decisions you and your former spouse will make during the divorce process is dedicated to asset and property division.
Asset and property division is one of the first things couples who are divorcing will consider, especially if there are high assets or property among themselves.
Unfortunately, without a prenuptial agreement, it may become challenging or confusing to decide how to allocate these possessions during a divorce.
Consulting a lawyer will always be your best option to ensure the best protection of your rights.
MARITAL PROPERTY VS SEPARATE PROPERTY
Exceptions to the general rule of asset and property division are non-marital
property, or assets that were owned before the marriage.
To protect these non-marital assets, the court will generally need to observe that:
- You owned property before your current or present marriage;
- That the property was a gift to you individually from someone other than your spouse during the marriage;
- That you inherited the property before or during the marriage;
- That the property was bought with money from the sale or transference of property that you owned prior to the marriage;
- That the property was excluded by a valid legal argument.
Examples of separate property include:
- Real estate
- Bank accounts
Titles, deeds, receipts, cancelled checks and receipts are all great forms of documentation to posses if asked by the judge to provide.
It is also important to identify inheritances and other important sources of assets and property in order to protect and provide you with a full, honest answer on how these possessions will be distributed.
GEORGIA: COURTS OF EQUITY
The state of Georgia is not bound by any specific division factors or rules. Courts generally distribute property in any proportion that is deemed as fair under the variables of each unique case.
Some factors include:
- Financial status of each spouse and separate properties;
- Overall income and earning capacity of each spouse;
- General conduct of the spouses toward each other during the marriage and during the divorce process;
- Any misconduct that resulted in a dissolution of assets by either spouse;
- Future needs of either spouse, including retirement planning and each spouse’s debts.
HOW TO DIVIDE PROPERTY AND ASSETS AFTER DIVORCE
Property and assets will be divided either by agreement (i.e. settlement conference or mediation) or at a trial by a judge or jury.
Mediation is a divorce method where both spouses work out divorce terms on their own pretenses. Both parties have separate representation and consult with a neutral mediator to finalize all decisions.
Litigation is an extensive legal procedure (a trial or hearing) and is very formal in nature. The litigation process may extend the time it takes to finalize a divorce, so this option must be selected carefully.
Your divorce case will be heard by a Judge (or in some limited cases a jury) and whatever the judge decides will be the final ruling in your case. In most cases, that final decree is non-modifiable.
If you have questions or concerns about your divorce process and want to learn how to protect your assets, we can help. Our team of professional attorneys has over 50 years of combined experience helping Georgians manage difficult high-asset divorces and is ready to help you through your time of need.