In addition to tending to the emotional impact of the end of a marriage, divorcing couples also need to contemplate how the property they jointly own will be distributed following the dissolution of their union. An attorney can help you determine which property is eligible for distribution in your divorce.
Separate vs. marital property
Georgia follows equitable distribution laws, meaning that courts will divide marital property between divorcing spouses in a fair and equitable manner. However, not all property owned by a married couple is considered marital property.
Separate property is defined as property belonging to only one spouse. Upon divorce, separate property will stay with the person who brought it into the marriage. Some examples may include:
- Assets owned prior to marriage by one spouse.
- Gifts from a third-party given to one spouse.
- Proceeds from a personal injury lawsuit owed to one spouse.
- Inheritance given solely to one spouse.
Marital property is property that a couple purchases with marital funds or acquires together during their marriage. Marital property may be distributed between spouses at the time of divorce. Some examples of marital property may include:
- Marital home or other real estate
- Family vehicles
- Furniture and artwork acquired during the marriage
- Retirement plans, 401Ks, IRAs, pension plans, etc.
Keep in mind that property that started out as separate property may be classified as commingled property if marital funds are used to maintain the property, make improvements to the property or pay off the property. The property will then be considered marital property and may be distributed in the divorce.
The courts will consider many factors when deciding on how to distribute marital property. A family law attorney can help you prioritize which assets mean the most to you and come up with a strategy to ensure that you get those assets in your divorce.