When it comes to divorce, there are two things that tend to be the hardest for spouses to agree upon. One is who will get custody of the children, and the other is asset and property division. While laws vary from state to state, Georgia follows a system referred to as equitable distribution.
What is Equitable Distribution?
In Georgia and other states that practice equitable distribution, property division in a divorce begins with inventorying all assets and property owned by both parties. The assets then divide into marital property or separate property.
With the exception of a few things, property and assets that either party acquires during the course of the marriage will be marital property, regardless of whose name is on the title or whom the purchaser was.
Property that is separate property in Georgia is property that one party owned before the marriage ever occurred. Some assets, under special circumstances, such as inherited property that only one spouse received, may be separate property, even if the party received it during the marriage. Determining which assets are marital property and which are separate property is extremely important to determining a fair outcome.
Dividing Marital Property
Once someone determines which property is separate property and which is marital property, then property division begins. Typically, separate property remains with its original owner. Marital property, however, is subject to division according to the equitable distribution principal. This means that the parties share the property based on what is equitable, or fair. In most cases this results in a fair division, but sometimes it does not.
In some states, the law allows couples to determine how to divide marital property. However, in Georgia, a family court judge will examine several factors and determine how property division must occur in order to be fair. They will take into consideration the financial contributions to the marriage, as well as other determining factors.
Asset Concealment During Divorce
Unfortunately, it is fairly common for one spouse or the other to try to unfairly influence the property division process by hiding assets. One of the ways a spouse can protect themselves from asset concealment during the divorce process is by paying close attention to their finances and being on constant lookout for warning signs of asset concealment. Some warning signs include the following:
- A spouse who acts secretive or gets defensive about financial matters and who refuses to share account information (passwords).
- A spouse who takes on an unusual amount of debt or who opens several bank accounts.
- Complaining about financial difficulties that the other spouse was not aware of.
- Expenditures seem out of proportion to their income.
How a Family Law Attorney Can Help with Property Division
When facing a divorce in Georgia, you need to ensure that you receive your fair share of the property. An experienced attorney can help ensure that property is categorized correctly as separate or martial and make sure that your interests are protected during the process of the divorce. Contact the attorneys at Lankford & Moore Law to make sure you have anexperienced family law attorney by your side every step of the way.