Many Factors Influence Property Division in Georgia
The division of marital property, or property acquired during a marriage, is often one of the most complicated and difficult aspects of the divorce process. Disputes may arise about when the property was acquired, or how much certain assets are worth.
When a couple disagrees on how to divide shared property, the question will more than likely end up decided by the courts. In Georgia, a judge’s decision about how to divide marital property is based on a system of “equitable distribution.”
The equitable distribution system is based on the idea that property should be divided in a way that is fair. It is important to keep in mind that this does not always mean that property is divided equally. Many people going through a divorce do not understand this part of the process, and can give up rights to property that they will not be able to get back.
To begin the process of equitable distribution, the parties must work with the court to identify all of their shared property and debt. After they have all been identified, each asset or liability is then assigned a monetary value. The value assigned to the property, along with several other factors, helps guide the judge in distributing the property fairly between the parties.
Factors relevant to the outcome may include:
- The current and potential income of each party
- The value of each party’s separate (non-marital) property
- The debts and liabilities of the parties
- The duration of the marriage
- The allocation of parental responsibilities and expenses between parties
These are not the only methods that the courts will use to determine how to divide marital property. The court may also consider other factors, such as the age and health of the parties, whether either party is at fault for causing the depreciation of marital property, or the extent to which each party contributed to acquiring the existing marital property. Parties will need to extensively prepare for this part of the process, as it can be very time-consuming.
Because the process of equitable distribution is based on the court’s subjective evaluation of several different factors, it can be difficult to predict exactly what the outcome is likely to be in any given case. For example, even the local rules used at a particular courthouse can have a major impact on how your property is divided. It will be important to work with an attorney who is familiar with the courts and judges in your region; someone who knows how to effectively present your case should the matter end up going to trial.
If you are considering a divorce, speak to an experienced family law attorney in your area to understand the options that are available to you. Taking the time to protect yourself now will help you prepare for any challenges that may arise during your proceedings.