Is Georgia a Marital or Community Property State?
If you’re going through a divorce, it’s crucial to familiarize yourself with Georgia laws regarding property division. Georgia is a marital property state, meaning that the law gives both spouses a right to equal property division during a divorce. Also known as an equitable distribution strategy, the rule applies to any property acquired during the marriage.
Georgia is not bound by predetermined rules. Courts often have discretion when deciding how to divide property between spouses. They usually do this based on what judges believe to be fair, depending on the case circumstances. Skilled family law attorneys in Alpharetta take you through the basics of marital property laws in Georgia.
What is Considered Marital Property in Georgia?
The law considers marital property any assets acquired by either spouse during the marriage. Even if a spouse purchased a car or house and titled it in only their name, it would still be considered marital property as long as they bought it during the marriage. The most common pieces of marital property are homes, cars, gifts made between spouses, debts, and 401(k) contributions.
Does Georgia Recognize Separate Property?
Property division laws in Georgia take into account separate property. Anything a spouse acquired before the marriage is considered separate property. Each person is entitled to their respective property, which is not subjected to equitable division during divorce.
The category includes:
- Gifts received from other people before the marriage
- Inherited property
- Items your spouse agrees are separate property
- Any property acquired individually before marriage
If you have some separate property you would like to protect during your divorce and your spouse won’t agree to it, consult skilled property division lawyers in Alpharetta. They can evaluate your case and provide legal guidance on what to do and how to prove that the property is separate.
What if It is Not Clear What Category Some Property Falls Into?
If it’s unclear the category any property falls into, the law allows the judge to make the final decision about its division. No law provision allows courts to transfer a property title from one spouse to another legally. Instead, they can award monetary settlements for whatever the property is worth, just as in a civil case.
How Do Courts Divide Marital Property in Georgia?
Equitable division is the guiding principle in the property division process in Georgia. Judges consider the following factors to ensure fairness:
- The age and general health of each spouse
- The debts and liabilities against any real estate or property
- The length of the marriage
- The behavior of each spouse during the divorce proceedings
- Financial status and earning capacity of each spouse
- Separate property owned by each spouse
- The future needs of each spouse
- Any evidence of misconduct leading to wastage by either spouse
- Custody of the children, with the custodial parent receiving a higher percentage of the estate and more assets
Judges may also consider whose fault it is for the divorce when dividing the property. For example, if marital infidelity is the reason for the divorce, the court may favor the innocent spouse and award them more equity if they can prove that cheating occurred.
The law requires judges to account for non-monetary contributions in property division cases. In that case, a judge considers the contribution or value of labor the stay-at-home spouse contributed to the marriage.
Non-monetary contributions include activities toward the family’s welfare, and examples are:
- Taking care of the children
- Household chores, homemaking, and cooking
- Professionally supporting the other spouse
The more the non-monetary contributions are, the higher the court’s likelihood of awarding a more significant percentage of the marital property. Skilled property division attorneys in Alpharetta can help you fight for a fair share of marital property based on your non-monetary contributions.
Do Property Laws Factor in Alimony?
If the court awards alimony to one spouse, the award will be considered in the property division process. The spouse getting alimony may receive a smaller portion of the marital property.
However, the judge’s decision also depends on other factors around the divorce, such as how much alimony is awarded and how it affects the financial status of each spouse.
For example, if a spouse has to pay a lot of alimony, they may get a more significant portion of the marital property. That way, the division of assets would be more equitable. Consult compassionate family law attorneys in Alpharetta to ensure your rights are protected.
Who Gets the House During the Divorce?
If children are involved in a divorce, the parent who spends the most time with them and provides their primary care remains in the marital home with them. If there are no children and the house is separate property, the one who owns the house has the legal right to maintain the house.
It becomes complex if no children are involved and the house is owned jointly. Unless there is domestic violence and the violent spouse is ordered to leave, or one spouse leaves freely, the court must decide who retains the house. Talk to skilled property division lawyers in Alpharetta and let them present a strong case as to why you should keep the house.
A Skilled Family Law Attorney Providing Legal Counsel on Georgia Property Division Laws
Property division can sound complex if you’re going through a divorce, but it should be clear. Skilled Alpharetta property division lawyers can make the process less stressful by providing all the information you need to understand your options and protect your rights. From divorce negotiation and mediation to litigation, they can provide the support you need.
Hecht Family Law hosts skilled and compassionate family law attorneys with an in-depth understanding of the family laws in Georgia. We can fight hard to protect what you’ve acquired during your marriage and help you overcome this challenging time as you go through divorce. Call us at (470) 291-5342 to get specialized advice.