Under Georgia divorce law, it is presumed that property should be divided equitably between the parties. Equitable division, however, does not mean the same thing as equal division or a 50-50 split. Rather, equitable means what the court considers to be fair and reasonable, depending on the circumstances
If two spouses can agree on how to divide their property on their own, the court will accept the parties’ agreement, as long as it is reasonably fair. The court can refuse to approve a settlement, though, if it is blatantly fair and unreasonable, even if the parties have agreed to it.
Each spouse gets to keep his or her own separate property in a divorce action. This includes any property that he or she owned prior to the marriage, any property that was gifted or left to him or her, and any appreciation or interest that has accrued on that separate property. However, the separate property must remain separate from and not become commingled with marital property; otherwise, there is the danger that the court will consider it to be marital property.
On the other hand, all marital property must be divided in a divorce. Marital property includes all property owned by the parties, including real estate, personal property, bank accounts, and retirement accounts, such as pensions, IRAs, and 401(k) plans. This includes all property that was obtained or bought from the date of the parties’ marriage until the date that the parties file for divorce. It does not matter whether the property is titled jointly or just in one spouse’s name (with a few exceptions).
The court will take a number of factors into account when deciding upon a fair, reasonable, and equitable division of property, including the following:
- The parties’ standard of living during the marriage
- The parties’ respective incomes and earning capacities
- The age and health of each party
- The separate debts and assets owned by each party
- The custodial arrangement of any minor children of the parties
- Whether either party acted wrongfully to dispose of or diminish the value of marital property
- The cause of the marital break-up, such as adultery or cruelty.
An Atlanta divorce lawyer at Shaw Law Firm LLC can help advise you about the difference between marital and separate property, as well as how your marital property is likely to be equitably divided. Contact us or call today to learn how Shaw Law can work with you to achieve the best outcome possible for you and your children.
Scott Shaw is founder and principle of Shaw Law Firm LLC, founded in 1995 and dedicated solely to divorce, family law and child custody matters that must be addressed and decided in the state of Georgia. Shaw Law Firm serves the greater Metro Atlanta area, particularly the counties of Fulton, Gwinnett, Cobb, Cherokee, Forsyth, Paulding, Henry, Fayette, Coweta, Newton, Walton, Bartow and Douglas. Schedule a consultation today at 770-594-8309.