Experienced Property Division Attorneys in Gainesville, GA and Braselton, GA
You have worked hard to build a healthy retirement and create a home you are proud of, but now you find your future clouded by the uncertainty of divorce. You may be wondering, what will happen to the property and assets you worked so hard to build.
If you devoted your energy to taking care of the family home and did not work, you may be concerned that the court will not understand the value your services added to the wealth acquired during your marriage.
No matter which one of these situations you find yourself in, ending a marriage means fundamental changes, which can be both intimidating and overwhelming.
We are experienced property division attorneys, and we understand the fears and uncertainty about the future that accompany a pending divorce. Financial concerns and asset division questions are normal because how these issues are handled will significantly impact your ability to start over and move on with your life.
How Is Property Divided Between a Husband and Wife in a Divorce?
Under Georgia law, all marital property will be subject to equitable distribution. “Only property acquired as a direct result of the labor and investments of the parties during the marriage is subject to equitable division.” Payson v. Payson, 552 S.E.2d 839, 274 Ga. 231 (2001). “Equitable” does not mean equal, but rather a fair division of marital property. Property that is determined to be “separate property” will not be subject to division and will be retained by the owner.
The court will divide your property ONLY IF, you and your spouse cannot reach a fair and realistic settlement. A marital settlement regarding property is usually the most cost-effective way of dividing marital assets.
Even if you believe that you and your spouse have reached an agreement on how to divide marital property, you should always consult an experienced Georgia family law attorney who can assess the terms of your agreement and advise you regarding its merits and potential drawbacks.
Marital Property vs. Separate Property
In a divorce, all of a couple’s assets will first need to be categorized as either marital, separate, or mixed. The property that is determined to be marital will be subject to division, and the separate property will continue to belong to the party that owns it. Mixed assets are assets that are part marital property and part separate. Mixed assets are those that were separate but become partially marital when they were paid with marital assets or appreciated due to the efforts or contribution of the other spouse.
- Any property obtained during the marriage by either spouse
- The increase in value of any property that was a direct result of contributions made for the upkeep, and maintenance of that property during the marriage
- Any retirement benefits acquired during the marriage
- Inter-spousal gifts purchased with marital funds
- Property acquired before the marriage
- Any inheritance that was not commingled
- Any gift received from a 3rd party that was specifically for that person and did not appreciate in value due to other spouse’s efforts
- Any money received from appreciation of separate property (As long as the spouse did not contribute to its upkeep)
Property that may otherwise be considered marital may not be subject to equitable division due to the existence of a valid prenuptial or postnuptial agreement. Cases involving the applicability and enforceability of a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement can be complicated and require legal advice from an experienced lawyer.
Equitable Division Factors
Factors that a court will consider in determining equitable distribution of marital property may include:
- Employability of each spouse based on education and training
- The relative earning capacities of the spouses
- Impact of custody arrangements for the children
- The spouses’ incomes
- The conduct of the parties during the marriage
- Cause of divorce
- The role and impact of each spouse in increasing the value of marital assets
- The physical and mental health and the age of each spouse
- The assets and debts of each spouse
- Each spouse’s financial needs
- Each spouse’s contributions to acquiring marital assets including working in the home or earning wages
Protect your Property
The experienced property law attorneys at McLeod Law Firm, P.C. will help guide you through the complex process of asset and debt division with your best interest in mind.
We understand that communication between spouses during a divorce can be difficult. We will work with you to create a personalized strategy to help you reach an agreement. If an agreement simply cannot be reached, we will use our years of extensive trial experience to help you protect your property and move on from your divorce in the best financial position possible.