Married couples often collect countless items of property during the course of their relationship. If their marriage ends, the couple must then figure out how they will split the property between them.
Dividing assets can be a difficult task, even for parties who have an amicable relationship and separation. However, when the legal dissolution of a marriage is contentious, this task becomes even more difficult.
If you are in the midst of divorce negotiations, a Marietta property division lawyer might be able to assist you. By working with a steadfast attorney, you could have help in creating a plan that keeps your property, assets, and interests in mind once a marriage ends.
Before the parties involved in a divorce, or the judge overseeing the case, can begin to divide property, they must first determine which assets are marital property and which are considered to be separate property. The nuances of each are important to understand, why could be explained by a well-versed property division attorney.
Separate property typically consists of anything that a person received as a gift, as an inheritance, or owned prior to their marriage. This is important to distinguish, as a judge is only able to divide marital property during a divorce.
Marital property consists of any property that the parties acquired as a result of marital efforts during a marriage. Simply put, almost everything that the divorcing couple owns could be considered marital property.
Furthermore, items that originated as separate property can be converted to marital property. As an example, if a person who owns a home gets married and pays the mortgage or other improvements to the home from marital funds, a court may find that a portion of the equity of the house has been converted into marital property—even if only one spouse is on the deed or mortgage.
Despite popular belief, the law in Georgia does not require divorcing couples to split property equally. While both parties may have rights to their marital property, it is usually divided in an equitable fashion by either the parties themselves or by the judge overseeing the case. When considering what is fair, a judge will consider multiple factors.
For example, the judge may initially examine the financial status and future financial needs of each party. If one person was financially dependent on the other during a divorce—or needs additional resources to support themselves or the couple’s children—a judge may decide to give that spouse more of the marital property.
The judge may also consider the nature of a marital asset and assign ownership on that basis. For instance, a spouse who used a vehicle exclusively during the marriage may be able to argue that they should keep their vehicle.
Another factor that may be considered is the behavior of either party before or after a divorce. Judges might, for example, consider fault within a marriage when determining the division of assets. If one party cheated, for instance, a judge might determine that the innocent spouse should receive a larger share of the marital property.
Alternatively, if a spouse emptied the couple’s bank account or hid assets in preparation of a divorce, a judge might cite this behavior as a justification for awarding a larger part of the marital estate to the innocent spouse.
Dividing assets during a divorce often requires the help of multiple legal professionals and financial experts. Parties may need to have their property assessed to get an accurate value or they might need to file motions asking a judge to declare a certain asset as marital or separate property.
Because of these nuances and complexities, a Marietta property division lawyer could help if you are in the process of handling a divorce. By retaining a legal professional, you could have advice and guidance through each step. To discuss your rights during this time, call an attorney today.