Not surprisingly, you and your spouse may have very different ideas about what is fair when it comes to dividing marital property. The property settlement agreement you make in your divorce can have a significant impact on your life after divorce. It pays to have an attorney who will provide aggressive representation based on thorough evaluation of all your marital and separate property.
At The Law Offices of Abbott & Abbott, P.C., in Marietta and Canton, Georgia, our lawyers represent you — not your spouse. We know how important it is for you to receive a fair and equitable share in the court's property division determination. A fair distribution does not necessarily mean an equal division of assets and debts, however. Make sure you have a lawyer who will protect your interests through all settlement negotiations.
- In Georgia, bad conduct can affect property division.
- If your spouse is guilty of bad conduct, or if you have been accused of bad conduct, you need a lawyer who will convincingly present the facts of your case and fight for you.
- Domestic violence, adultery, cruel treatment, intoxication and other issues can affect a property settlement.
- Certain types of property distribution can offset other monetary awards in your divorce settlement. For example, additional property in a settlement could mean less (or no) alimony/spousal support. We will make sure you have a settlement that works for you.
- Consider the tax consequences of your divorce property settlement. We will speak with you about getting the proper resources and structuring your agreements appropriately to address these issues.
- Has some property been hidden by your spouse? If you suspect your spouse of having hidden assets that should be considered in the property settlement, tell your attorney right away before doing anything else. Especially in high-asset divorces, it is important to ensure that all assets are disclosed.
- If your ex-spouse fails to live up to the settlement agreement, we can talk to you about a divorce contempt action to get them back in compliance and to recover what payments may have been missed.
The decisions you make with regard to division of marital property will affect you and your family for many years to come. Our divorce attorneys want you to have the resources you need and deserve for the next phase of your life. We plan for your short- and long-term future.
Equitable Distribution Of Assets In Georgia
It is unlikely that your property will be divided perfectly in half. It will be divided based on the concept of equitable distribution, which means "fair" distribution. Fair does not always mean an even 50-50 split.
All property, including your house, cars, jewelry, art, bank accounts, retirement accounts and other assets and debts, are to be divided in a fair manner.
While separate property is yours to keep, marital property is to be divided equitably, or fairly. This depends on a variety of factors, including the length of the marriage and the income of each spouse.
For example, if one spouse has significantly higher income than the other, and the other stayed home to raise the children, the other spouse may be entitled to more property in an equitable distribution, but this may not be the result in your unique case. Your right to property and assets will also be evaluated based on your contributions to the marriage, which must be solidified in court by your attorney.
What Is Marital Property In Georgia?
Everything that is accumulated during your marriage is referred to as marital property. If you and your spouse purchased your home together after getting married, it is marital property. If you purchased homes on your own as investment property while you were married, even if they are in your name, they are marital property. If you purchased a home prior to getting married, but then you and your spouse made payments on it and it increased in value during your marriage, a portion of the home is marital property.
One of the biggest challenges in divorce can be distinguishing between marital property and separate property. We understand this process, and we will fight for your rights and best interests in all matters.
Commingling Of Assets And Divorce
There are countless ways in which money and accounts can get commingled (mixed) during a marriage. Not surprisingly, these unique entanglements can make it difficult to differentiate between what is separate property and what is marital property.
- What if you borrowed money from a sibling and put that money into a shared bank account for a short period of time?
- What if you used that money to purchase something?
- What about purchases made with inheritances?
- What about proceeds from investments you made prior to marriage?
We will help you make these determinations and defend your interests, working with forensic accountants as necessary.
Hidden Assets And The Discovery Process In Your Divorce
In contentious divorce cases, it is not uncommon for one spouse to be concerned that the other is attempting to hide assets. This is particularly common in cases in which one spouse is a business owner or is self-employed.
Discovery is one of the key mechanisms we use to find hidden assets. Discovery is the process that both parties go through to secure information, not only from the other side, but from third parties as well. We will skillfully use the discovery process to figure out your complete financial picture.
Getting all of the necessary documentation is just the first step in the process. Reviewing it is the next step. Frequently, we will bring in forensic accountants to review financial and business documentation to identify any gaps and to trace money to determine if there is anything being hidden.
If your spouse is hiding money, we know how to find it and fight for what is yours.
Marital Debt And Divorce Determinations
Property is not the only thing that gets divided in a divorce. Marital debt needs to be taken into consideration as well. It is divided in a manner that is equitable, or fair, based on each spouse's income and other factors.
Property and debt go hand in hand. An attorney must be skilled in order to properly balance all of your concerns and come up with a strategy that makes sense in your case. We are your advocates.
We take an aggressive approach to property division and debt division. We want to do everything we can so that you are in a good position to move forward with your life after your marriage has ended, and that means leaving you with as little debt as possible.
Pensions, IRAs And 401(k)s
During a divorce, there is a misconception that these retirement accounts are separate property. People often think that because they contributed portions of their paycheck to these accounts, they should not be subject to property division. That is not the case.
While a portion of the account may be considered separate property, if it was obtained prior to the marriage, contributions and earnings during the marriage are considered marital property and subject to equitable division.
There are different vehicles used to divide retirement accounts. Division of this type of property is not like dividing a bank account, in which the money can be simply taken out of the account and placed in the other spouse's account.
IRAs need to be rolled over. A 401(k) is often divided using a specific tool called a QDRO (Qualified Domestic Relations Order). We are familiar with all the necessary tools, so you can be confident that we can handle these challenges in your best interests.
We will vigorously protect your rights to retirement assets and your standard of living.
Dividing Home Equity In Divorce
Home equity can play a major role in property division. In many cases, it is the most valuable asset is the home. However, there are unique situations:
- What if there is no equity in your home?
- What if neither side wants to keep the home?
- What if there is a great deal of equity and both sides want to keep the home, leading to a major conflict?
It is important to work with an attorney prepared to overcome any challenge to protect your interests. Property division, particularly how the house is handled, is not conducted in a vacuum. Other issues have material impacts.
For example, in many cases, the spouse with primary child custody may possibly keep the house and the other spouse may be compensated with a larger share of other assets. However, this is by no means the only way that division of a home and home equity can be accomplished:
- Perhaps the equity is split according to the rules of equitable distribution.
- Perhaps one spouse provides the other with a larger share of equity as a form of lump-sum alimony.
We will review all possible options with you and develop a plan to secure your goals.
Get Answers To Your Property Division Questions — Speak With One Of Our Attorneys
We can handle all these issues and more. These intricate and complex property division issues often require the assistance of experts, including appraisers and forensic accountants. You can be certain that we will thoroughly review all assets so that we can protect what is yours and help you get a fair outcome.
Please call us in Marietta at 678-905-8781, Canton at 678-792-4908 or toll free at 678-905-8781 to schedule a free 30-minute consultation with one of our attorneys. We are also available and responsive through secure email.