Handling Divorce, Separate Property and Marital Property Cases for Over 20 Years
You have worked hard to build a healthy retirement plan and create a home and/or business of which you are proud but now find your future clouded by the uncertainty of divorce. You may be wondering what will happen to the property and assets that 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 of these situations describe you, divorce and termination of a marriage means fundamental changes, which can be both intimidating and overwhelming.
McLeod Law Firm Attorneys serve all of North Georgia including Gainesville, Hall County, Cumming, Dawsonville, Forsyth County, Jackson and Dawson County. Contact a Lawyer.
David McLeod is an experienced property division attorney and he understands 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 get on with your life. Our compassionate and knowledgeable attorneys and staff understand what you are going through and have provided an overview of how property is divided under Georgia divorce law.
The information contained here explains Georgia’s divorce laws concerning property division in simple straightforward language, rather than complex legal terminology. It is our belief that better understanding the process will ease some of the fear and uncertainty that you may be feeling. McLeod Law Firm, P.C. handles all family law matters with a careful eye toward the best interest of our clients’ and their children, while providing you with the exemplary service that our clients have come to expect.
How Is Property Divided Between a Husband and Wife in a Divorce?
The couple can divide their own property if they are able to reach an agreement, but this isn’t always possible. If no divorce agreement can be reached, the court will divide property and debts in a Georgia divorce according to the principles set forth below. 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 advice you regarding its merits and potential pitfalls.
Marital Property vs. Separate Property
The judge will first separate all of the property into two categories, marital and separate, because only marital property is divided between the parties. The separate property reverts back to who owned it prior to the marriage. An exception and complication to this rule is what might be referred to as “mixed assets.” This simply means that some property may have been acquired before the marriage but partially paid for during the marriage. The portion of the value of the property that was paid for from marital property (i.e. income during the marriage) will be divided between the parties.
Any property obtained during the marriage by either spouse
The increase in value of any property that was a direct result from contributions made for the upkeep, and maintenance of that property
Any retirement benefits
Property acquired before the marriage took place
Any gift in exchange for separate property
Any money received from appreciation of separate property (As long as the spouse did not contribute to its upkeep)
Georgia divorce laws use the equitable distribution method of dividing property. “Equitable” does not mean equal, but rather a fair division of marital property. Property that is divided by equitable distribution does not include anything considered “separate property”. Whatever each spouse had in their possession prior to the marriage generally will be retained by that spouse.
Factors Considered for Equitable Distribution
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 impact of wrongful conduct in reducing the value of marital assets
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
The only factor that would eliminate any marital property from equitable distribution would be the existence of a pre-nuptial agreement that was signed by both spouses prior to marriage. This would precede any other factor for equitable distribution. Cases involving the applicability and impact of a pre-nuptial agreement can be complicated and require prompt legal advice from an experienced lawyer.
McLeod Law Firm, P.C. will help guide you through the complex process of asset and debt division and diligently pursue your best interest. It is important to keep in mind that 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. David McLeod understands communication between spouses during a divorce can be difficult so we are prepared to help remove any emotional roadblocks that could hinder progress. If an agreement simply cannot be reached, we will employ skilled advocacy and extensive litigation experience acquired over 20 years of handling Georgia divorce cases.
The lawyers at McLeod Law Firm, P.C. provide legal representation based on 20 years of experience and commitment to its clients across North Georgia including Gainesville and Hall County, GA. We continually update our practice to incorporate the most appropriate communication, technological, and legal advances in an effort to better serve our clients. We are located in historical downtown Gainesville, Georgia.
CALL (770) 536-0202 TODAY FOR YOUR INITIAL CASE EVALUATION!