When couples decide to part ways in Atlanta, one of the significant concerns they face revolves around the division of marital property. Now, you might be wondering, what exactly counts as marital property? Well, let’s dive into it and make the process as simple and clear as possible for you.
Understanding Marital Property
In Georgia, marital property encompasses almost everything acquired during the marriage, regardless of whose name it’s in. This means if you bought a house during the marriage, even if only one person’s name is on the deed, that house belongs to both spouses. The same principle applies to debts. If one spouse took out a student loan during the marriage, it’s a shared debt. While this may seem straightforward, there are exceptions. Gifts given to one spouse, even during the marriage, typically remain that individual’s property. Likewise, if you had an old family heirloom passed down to you, it’s considered separate because it’s an inheritance.
The Process of Dividing Marital Property
Georgia’s approach to “equitable distribution” can be complex. While some might assume it simply means everything gets divided 50/50, it’s more intricate than that. The court will assess various factors to determine what’s fair. For instance, if one spouse gave up career opportunities to support the other or raise children, this might influence the distribution. The court may also consider any marital misconduct, such as infidelity, especially if it impacted the couple’s finances. Furthermore, assets aren’t just physical properties. Retirement accounts, business ventures, and even potential future earnings can be considered when splitting assets.
When Agreements are in Place
Prenuptial and postnuptial agreements, often dubbed “prenups” and “postnups,” are contractual agreements between spouses regarding the division of their assets and debts. While many associate them with the wealthy, they’re beneficial for couples of all financial backgrounds. For instance, a couple might decide through a prenup that any future earnings from a startup one spouse is launching remain separate. Or perhaps both parties want to protect assets for children from previous relationships. While these agreements can simplify divorce proceedings, they must meet specific criteria. In Georgia, for the agreement to be upheld in court, both parties must have had the opportunity for legal representation, the agreement can’t be egregiously unfair, and there must have been full financial disclosure at the time of signing. If any of these conditions aren’t met, the agreement can be contested.
Possible Complexities in Property Division
Sometimes, the division of assets isn’t as black and white as dividing bank accounts or assigning vehicles. For couples who have intertwined their finances deeply, this process takes on an added layer of intricacy. Consider co-owned businesses. Not only does the value of the business need to be determined (which could involve everything from assessing tangible assets to evaluating the brand’s goodwill), but decisions about the business’s future operations need to be made. Will one party buy out the other? Will the business be sold and profits split? Or will both parties continue to run it post-divorce? Similarly, for investments that have appreciated, you’re not just splitting the asset, but also the potential future value it represents. In such scenarios, specialized financial professionals, alongside attorneys, often need to be consulted to ensure fair distribution.
Protecting Your Rights During Division
Without proper knowledge or representation, it’s easy to overlook assets or not recognize potential future financial implications of today’s decisions. An experienced attorney isn’t just a guide through this maze; they’re your advocate, ensuring that your financial future is secure. For instance, did you know that in some cases, even a spouse’s professional degree can be assessed for its value since it promises future earnings? Or that debt taken by one spouse, unknown to the other, might still be shared responsibility? It’s nuances like these that make legal assistance invaluable. It’s not about ‘winning’ in a divorce but ensuring you’re equipped for the future. Taking shortcuts now could have long-lasting implications, making it all the more essential to approach this process with diligence and care.
Get the Right Support, We’re Here to Help
When you’re going through a divorce, understanding and navigating the division of marital property can be daunting. However, having the right support by your side can make all the difference. When you work with a dedicated attorney at Tessie D. Edwards & Associates, P.C., we will use every available strategy to achieve your goals and obtain a support plan to meet your needs. Call us at (404) 330-8833 for a confidential consultation to learn more about how we could assist in your case.