If you are facing a divorce, you likely have concerns about the division of the property you have accumulated over decades. Georgia uses the equitable distribution standard to divide marital property.
Learning how the property division process works may ease some of the stress you feel about potentially losing your assets.
Separate vs. marital property
Property either party has received or earned during the marriage falls under the category of marital property, while assets either party brings into the marriage usually constitute separate property. Property only one spouse receives as a gift or inheritance during the marriage is also separate property. In Georgia, some assets can be partially separate and partially marital. For example, if you bought a home before getting married, the judge can award part of the home’s equity solely to you and divide the rest of the equity equally between spouses.
Factors in equitable distribution
Some of the considerations of the state superior court in asset division include the following:
- How each party contributed to acquiring and increasing the value of marital assets
- The living standard the couple enjoyed during the marriage
- Who has custody of minor children, if applicable
- Each party’s separate assets and debts
- Each party’s ability to earn a living, including existing job skills and education
- Each party’s age and physical and mental health status
- Whether either spouse committed wrongful conduct that decreased the value of marital assets, such as spending money on an affair
If the spouses cannot agree on how to divide marital property, the court will decide during the divorce hearing. Equitable distribution means the judge has the discretion to allocate assets and debts fairly but not necessarily equally. In addition, either spouse can request that a jury decide all financial issues of the divorce, which will increase both the cost and length of the proceedings. For couples who have significant assets, professional valuation is an essential step in determining the equitable distribution of marital property.