What you need to know about dividing property in a Georgia divorce
As part of your Georgia Divorce, many assets and liabilities will be divided between you and your spouse through a process called equitable division.
It can be hard to get your head around this idea – all you’ve worked so hard to build will now be divided.
And in a Georgia Divorce, “equitable” means fair, not equal – so property division can get really complicated.
The two options: 1. Negotiated or 2. Court Divided Property
1. Negotiated Settlement
You and your spouse can decide how to divide the family’s property yourselves. Some couples are able to do that. Others come to a property division agreement with professional help.
Without a negotiated agreement, a court or jury will decide who gets what. This is not the preferred way to go. Court determined property division can be avoided if negotiations are handled properly. Learn how divorce mediation can help you.
2. Court Divided Property
The court will classify property as either marital or separate, place a value on the property, and then divide the marital property “equitably” between you and your spouse.
The value used will typically be the fair market value as of the date of divorce. For some items, the fair market value will be easy to determine, while others will be more complicated.
Bank accounts, stocks and the marital residence are relatively easy to value.
Placing a value on a business interest is not so easy.
Business valuations are complicated and care must be taken not to harm the business if there is a value dispute. It’s difficult enough growing and running a business without a nasty messy time-sucking divorce getting in the way. If you’re a business owner, you have important work to do. A divorce can derail everything you’ve been building.
Divorce can sap energy, money, health, and redirects focus. It’s painful. Don’t let this happen to you.
Divorce Law Basics – Property Division in Georgia.
Georgia is an equitable division state. The primary goal of equitable division is to fairly divide the parties’ assets. Equitable does not mean equal.
In making the division, the judge or jury must consider all the relevant factors, including:
The age and health of each party
Typically during Phase 1 of your divorce both sides list all their assets, with stated fair market value, on a form called the domestic relations financial affidavit (called the “DRFA”, commonly pronounced: der’-fuh).
After all assets are listed on the DRFA, most lawyers next examine how and when each item of property was acquired and whether it should be classified as either marital or non-marital property
Only marital property is subject to equitable division. This classification is not always exclusively a question of law. Sometimes based on your particular facts a nonmarital property can fully or partially change into a marital property.
The judge or jury may also consider how the parties handled the property and their conduct in relation to the property in determining what is subject to division (whether your separate property was co-mingled with your spouses or marital property during the marriage).
if John acquired property before or during the marriage by gift or inheritance (usually non-marital), but Sally, his wife, actively contributed to the future appreciation of the property, the marital/non-marital distinction is not clearcut. John’s separate property may be part marital property and now available to Sally for equitable division.
Your separate property is usually not divided with your spouse. But as you now see, determining what exactly is or is not separate property can be very confusing and require a complex analysis by financial experts.
Finally, after a valuation process – the assets are equitably divided.