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When spouses wish to end their marriage, there are few issues that they need to resolve before they can cut the ties with one another, and one of them is splitting everything they have accumulated as a married couple. If spouses cannot find common ground, their disputes are more likely to be resolved by a third party. To get a better understanding of how their possessions will be shared in court, it is important to understand which assets are to be split and which are not.
How is Property Divided in a Divorce?
In the Peach State, assets acquired by spouses during their life together are known as marital property, which is to be shared when partners decide to untie the knot. Along with physical property consisting of house, vehicles, and antiques, every penny that was invested or saved in banks is subject to division.
According to the Georgia property laws, assets and funds accumulated by one side before the date of contracting their marriage are considered sole property unless they are blended in with a joint one. Gifts (except for those between partners), inherited items, and other belongings that both partners agree are owned solely by one are examples of non-marital assets.
Even though personal property remains in owners’ possession, all divorcees are supposed to inform court about it in the divorce process. This is how the judge can understand every party’s financial situation better and consider it along with a few more factors, such as their contribution to the household and the length of the marriage, when making a final decision.
Division of Marital Property in Georgia
There is no commonly used formula that can dictate how much each side must be granted in a marriage dissolution. Before the court can determine who will get what and how much, a few factors will be taken into account:
- Each party’s financial situation and earning potential.
- How spouses treated one another.
- Whether or not one of the divorcees threw joint finances down the drain.
- What each person’s future needs are.
- What the couple’s total debt is.
A judge will use this and other information, if any, to make a fair decision.
One of the common questions arising in a Georgia divorce is who gets the house. As GA is a common law state, family home is divided on the principle of fairness – the same as other property. If it is in the name of only one of the spouses, the owner is likely to retain it. If it is in both names, there might be various options available such as buying out another spouse’s share, selling the house and dividing the money, and others depending on the financial situation divorcees are in and plans each of them had for the house.
In case there are children involved, most often, a parent who has physical custody of them will get to keep the marital home as it will give kids some sense of stability. However, if another parent wants the house badly, he or she can always buy out another party’s rights to it, as we have mentioned previously, or give away other valuables, such as their share in their family-run business, jewelry, or even cash in exchange.
How Are Assets Divided in a Divorce?
When filing for a marriage dissolution, spouses will have a chance to opt for either a contested or an uncontested one:
1. Contested option
When spouses cannot reach an agreement on the asset division and other aspects of their divorce, they have to hire attorneys and go through a long court process where the judge will determine who gets what based on the information presented by lawyers. The outcome will depend on a lot of factors such as whose attorney does a better job, whose case is more solid, whether one of the parties is to blame for the breakdown of a marriage, etc. Therefore, predicting how assets will be split in a divorce like this is extremely hard.
2. Uncontested option
When spouses can come to an agreement on property division and other divorce-related aspects, they may choose not to hire lawyers, and get their marriage dissolution finalized fairly quickly, as only one hearing will likely be required. As long as the agreement spouses settled on is mutually beneficial, and divorcees confirm that they are satisfied with it in court, a judge is unlikely to change it. This implies that the outcome is pretty easy to predict when a divorce is uncontested.
An increasing number of divorcing couples tends to resolve their matters out of court primarily due to high costs and stress associated with court battles spanning years when there are disputes regarding property. To make their marriage dissolution uncontested, they divide their assets by negotiating with each other, whether with the help of a mediator or not, and drafting an agreement that a court later enforces given that the settlement is fair.
Is Georgia a Community Property State?
No, it is a common law state. Is Georgia a 50/50 divorce state though? The answer is also “no,” as Georgia divorce laws on property division presuppose a fair split of martial assets instead of an equal one. Moreover, not everything acquired during a marriage is considered joint property. For example, if a certain asset is in one spouse’s name only, they will have sole ownership over it no matter when they got it.
However, there are always exceptions. For example, are separate bank accounts marital property? Based on the information above, it would be logical to say that they are. Yet, your spouse or their lawyer may argue that it is not the case. In certain situations, for example, when the length of a marriage was pretty significant, tracing what money was used to contribute to an account might be hard. Moreover, your or your ex’s personal finances might have been used to upgrade joint property, and this complicates the discussion about the fairness of the account split or lack of thereof.