The division of marital property in Georgia

When a couple divorces in Georgia, the law seeks to divide marital property in an equitable or "fair" manner. This means that the monetary assessment of individually retained property might differ among spouses, but the distribution is intended to be fair. Courts look to many factors when making the division determination at trial, when the parties are unable to reach an agreement to divide the assets in a particular way.

What is marital property?

Marital property is money, cars, homes, and furniture – any physical thing that was acquired while the parties were married. However, marital property may include intangible assets such as a business.

On the other hand, inheritance or gifts given to one person by an outside party typically are not marital property Furthermore, any property that a person owned prior to marriage is not marital in nature, and it is retained by that person when the divorce is finalized. However, if otherwise non-marital property was co-mingled with marital assets during the marriage, it may become in full or in part marital property.

Personal Property

Personal marital property acquired during the marriage should be considered during divorce. For example, who gets the pets? Who gets the car? Who gets the Jet Ski? Many divorcing couples can arrive at an agreement regarding who will take what. Sometimes items that have significant monetary or emotional value may need to be sold and divided in order to make the division equitable, as determined by the court or the parties' agreement.

Personal property can be linked to debt, so agreements should include who will be liable for the debt on any retained property.

While gifts are not necessarily considered marital property, gifts spouses give to one other may be considered marital property if the item was purchased with funds from marital accounts.

Businesses

If parties establish a business during a marriage, this intangible property is subject to the division of marital property. During a divorce, a business can be kept by one spouse or sold to apportion any profits between the spouses. In dividing business assets, courts must take into account business laws.

Real property

Any real estate that a couple acquires during the course of the marriage should be divided during a divorce. This includes things like the family's main abode, rental properties, vacation homes and undeveloped land.

When considering how to divide real property, the court might take into account how much the spouses paid for the property, how much money each spouse individually contributed to the property, its fair market value and any tax consequences or liabilities. These are just some of the many factors that tie into the decision.

Ultimately, the property division process can be extremely complex. This is especially true because in Georgia, the distribution is not necessarily equal, but equitable. If you have questions about your individual or marital property, you should contact an experienced attorney today.