When you’re married, building a life together usually includes building wealth together. Most couples build up retirement funds, invest in stock portfolios and buy real estate with forever in mind.
However, when divorce looms, these and other assets take on a different significance. Suddenly what’s yours isn’t so straightforward. There may be assets that you believe are yours – such as a business you operate – only to find your soon to be ex-spouse has a different point of view.
A court will ultimately decide what money or property is part of the marital estate and how it’s divided. A divorce lawyer in Buford can help you understand what the end of your marriage means for your asset base.
EQUITABLE DIVISION OF ASSETS DURING DIVORCE
Generally speaking, assets generated during the marriage are subject to equitable division by the court. Assets can include physical property like houses, cars and jewelry as well as savings accounts, investments, retirement accounts and insurance plans.
Anything that is acquired or earned during the marriage, that increased in value during the marriage or was created through marital funds must be equitably divided. For assets that cannot be “divided” (like cars or houses) the Court has the power to Order them sold and to then equitably divide the proceeds earned from the sale.
There are some scenarios where assets fall outside of joint marital ownership.
- Anything covered by a prenuptial agreement. Most items in a prenuptial agreement are acquired prior to marriage. The key is to have an enforceable prenuptial agreement that clear lays out ownership of these items.
- A business that was begun prior to the marriage will likely be considered a non-marital asset. In this case, the business itself should remain with the spouse who started the enterprise. However, any increase in value may be assessed by the court and considered divisible property to be divided between the parties.
- A gift or inheritance that one spouse receives during the marriage is not considered joint property, aside from any increase in value. Inherited items can be tangible assets such as jewelry, art work or real estate as well as financial assets like trusts.
WHAT HAPPENS TO YOUR BUSINESS AFTER DIVORCE?
In some cases, your former spouse may be entitled to share in financial assets after the dissolution of the marriage. This includes the future proceeds of a business. This would be the case if your spouse helped establish or supported the development of the business during the marriage. In situations where a business is jointly held by both spouses, a divorce negotiation can include a provision for one spouse to buy out the other.
Resolving these issues are part a critical part of negotiating a divorce settlement. Having an experienced divorce lawyer on your side is essential to protecting your assets. Oxendine & Sauls, LLC has a team of highly skilled lawyers ready to aggressively represent your interests.