What Are Property Division Rules in Georgia?

There are often many issues to settle during a divorce, and if the divorcing parties can’t agree by themselves, Georgia laws kick in to resolve the matter. One pertinent issue in divorce is marital property division. Dealing with it can be complex, but Georgia applies the rule of equitable division to determine what each spouse gets.

The rule can be complex to understand if you don’t know how it works, so it helps to consult skilled family law attorneys in Metro Atlanta for legal counsel. They can help you understand more about what goes into deciding what is equitable than you might think.

What Does Georgia Consider Marital Property?

Marital property law in Georgia differs from most other states, although it is designed to make assets and wealth distribution as fair as possible to divorcing couples. Generally, all property acquired by both or either party during the union is considered marital property. That means that even if one party is listed on the property title, they both are entitled to it.

Marital property could include cars, the marital home, retirement accounts, savings accounts, and other assets or debts each party has. Exceptions to marital property include:

  • Any property either party brought into the marriage and which they acquired before the union. However, this is not always a guarantee, and the careful assessment of each asset is crucial to determine if it qualifies as a separate property. Work with experienced Property division lawyers in Alpharetta if you have a separate property you wish to protect.
  • Anything received as a gift from someone other than your spouse or inheritance is protected from property division because it is separate property.
  • A prenuptial agreement may also stipulate other assets or debts, including those acquired during marriage, that qualify as separate property.

Georgia is not a community property state that requires an equal (50/50) division of marital property during divorce. Instead, the laws assign both spouses an equitable interest in all the property acquired during marriage, also known as equitable distribution.

What is Equitable Distribution?

Georgia’s courts aim to distribute property fairly, not equally, during a divorce. Fair is subjective, meaning one spouse could get more property than the other, depending on the circumstances. Alpharetta property division attorneys explain that courts consider various factors in the process:

  • Each spouse’s contribution to the process of property acquisition and the finances required to obtain the property
  • The length of the marriage
  • Health and age of each spouse
  • Each spouse’s financial situation, alimony awarded, and earning capacity
  • The children’s needs and custody arrangements, if any
  • The conduct of the spouses toward each other during the marriage
  • Each spouse’s debts and future needs, including retirement planning
  • Any wrongful conduct that caused either spouse to waste assets during the marriage. Depending on who is at fault for the divorce, the court may favor one party.

Given all these considerations, you must fight aggressively for what’s rightfully yours. You don’t want to end up with less than you deserve after many years of hard work during your marriage. Experienced property division attorneys in Alpharetta can look into your case and represent you in court to ensure a fair division.

What Happens to the Marital Home in Equitable Division?

The marital home is the couple’s joint property, and its division will be based on equity and fairness. Some of the factors above will apply when the judge decides who will get the house. The custodial parent may have an advantage over the other, considering the need to provide a stable home environment for the children.

If the couple can’t afford to keep the marital home, the court may order the house to be listed and sold immediately. Upon its sale, the proceeds will be split evenly or according to the terms defined in the divorce decree.

How Does Equitable Division Affect Retirement Benefits?

Retirement benefits, pension plans, and IRAs are marital property subject to equitable division during a divorce. However, 401(k) assets accrued before marriage won’t be subject to division, but the interest earned after marriage would be deemed marital property.

In dividing such benefits or assets that are not easily liquidated, the court can issue a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) to distribute the assets into two separate accounts: one for the participant party and the other for the non-participant one.

The process is complicated, and failure to correctly prepare the QDRO could result in lost benefits. Contact skilled family law attorneys in Metro Atlanta to help you prepare the order and ensure it is enforced to protect your rights.

Must I Declare All Property During Divorce?

It is illegal to hide assets to shield them from property division during divorce. If you do this and your spouse manages to find them, you risk being punished with stiff sanctions. The court could also award your spouse a percentage of the value of the hidden assets. If you think your spouse is hiding some assets, let your lawyers know so they can intervene.

A Skilled Property Division Lawyer Helping You Navigate Equitable Property Division During Divorce

Georgia uses the principle of equitable property division to split marital property during a divorce. The approach implies that one couple could get more property than the other, depending on the circumstances. To protect your rights and fight for what you rightfully deserve, retain the services of skilled property division lawyers in Alpharetta.

They can help you collect the necessary financial records and a list of all your assets that prove ownership or entitlement to the property. They can also create a solid case to show why you deserve the property you claim. Hecht Family Law is a reputable firm helping clients gain favorable outcomes in family law cases. We can help you, too. Call us at 470-291-5342 to schedule a case strategy session with attorney Hecht today.