For many people, divorce is a difficult situation. Even couples whose divorce starts out amicably can end up in a dispute. One of the areas of most concern is the distribution of property in a divorce. Georgia law requires that property is distributed in an equitable manner. Couples must try to come to an agreement regarding the distribution of your assets as part of the divorce process. When couples cannot come to an agreement, it will lengthen the time it takes to finalize the divorce and will make the procedure more expensive.
What Is Equitable Distribution?
In Georgia, the law requires equitable distribution. Equitable distribution is not exactly the same as equal distribution. The law requires that all marital property be divided in a fair manner. Marital property includes any property and assets that you acquired during the marriage. The first step in equitable distribution is to determine exactly what property is included. This can be the most difficult part of the process, especially if a couple comingled their assets before they were married.
When you review your assets you will want to keep in mind your home, vehicles, furniture, and other big purchases, as well as your retirement or IRA accounts, savings, and investments. As part of the divorce, you and your spouse must fill out financial disclosure forms so neither can hide any assets. An equitable distribution must also include payment of debts that were incurred during the marriage. These types of issues can become complicated. Your attorney will review your assets and debts with you to ensure that you obtain a fair settlement in the divorce.
Exceptions to Marital Property
There are some exceptions to the marital property rule. Certain types of assets are considered non-marital property, even if they were obtained during the marriage. For example, gifts that you received during the marriage are yours alone and you do not have to divide them in a divorce. The same holds true for an inheritance that you received during the marriage. If you received an inheritance in your name, it belongs to you and is not to be included as part of marital property. If one person owned a business prior to the marriage, it may be non-marital property. However, if the value of the business increased during the marriage, the spouse may be entitled to a portion of the proceeds.
When the non-marital property was mixed with marital property, it typically becomes marital property by default. Therefore, the division of some property that was comingled may belong to both parties now. This would likely be true unless you can show that separate funds were used in a particular transaction.
Who Gets to Keep the House?
When it comes to your marital home, the distribution can be more complicated. You generally have several choices. You may choose to sell the home and divide the proceeds equitably, or one of you may buy out the other’s portion of the home. The decision depends on many factors, including how much equity you have in the home and how much you owe on your mortgage. In situations where you have minor children, you may choose to own the home jointly until the children reach majority and then sell the house.
The equitable distribution of assets is not always straightforward. You want to end up with your fair share, but you don’t want to hold up the divorce. Your attorney will help you resolve disputes and keep your divorce on track while protecting your interests. Contact a Columbus Family Law Attorney at Moffitt Law, LLC to assist you with your divorce.