Atlanta Property Division Attorney
Unsure what is divided and how it gets divided? We can help you
Perhaps you have been married for a long time and acquired decades of furniture, furnishings, accounts, retirement and debts. Alternatively, maybe you have been married for a few years and still have not joined all of your assets and liabilities yet. Regardless of your situation, the Atlanta property division attorneys of Kaye, Lembeck, Hitt & French Family Law are here to help you.
What matters to you? Is it staying in the residence? Is it paying off debts? Is it keeping your retirement intact? What matters to you matters to us.
Georgia law requires an equitable division of marital property
Georgia is a equitable division state and equitable means fair – it does not mean equal. What you think is fair and what another person thinks is fair may be two different things. As a divorcing couple, you and your partner can decide together how to divide your assets and liabilities. The Atlanta family law attorneys at Kaye, Lembeck, Hitt & French Family Law can help you draw up or review a marital settlement agreement for court approval.
If the issues are too complex or emotions are too high to settle the property division without court involvement, the matter will have to be resolved through litigation. In court, the judge is required to make an equitable division of the marital property. This may require selling certain assets and dividing up the cash proceeds. When it’s better to keep the property intact and held by one party, the court can award the other party cash or other property of similar value.
It might also be more equitable to award a greater share of the marital property to one party than the other. Georgia law does not require an equal split, just a fair one. If one party came into the marriage with more property, or if one gave up a promising career to raise a family, then an unequal division of property might be appropriate.
Georgia courts look at the following sorts of factors when deciding how to distribute the marital property in a divorce:
- The length of the marriage
- The age and health of the parties
- The individual needs of each party
- Child custody arrangements
- Each party’s current income and earning capacity
- The education levels and vocational skills for each partner
- How much each spouse contributed to the acquisition and maintenance or enhancement of the property
- How much each spouse contributed to managing the household and family matters
- Any willful wasting or wrongful dissipation of the value of marital property
- Any fault or misconduct, such as adultery, that led to the breakdown of the marriage
What about separate property?
Generally, each party keeps their own separate property. Separate property includes all the property owned by a spouse before the marriage, as well as property acquired during the marriage through inheritance or gift to that one person specifically. Marital property includes all the assets (and debts) acquired by either spouse during the marriage. The spouses do not have to acquire the property together to make it marital property; acquisition during the marriage is what makes it marital property.
A key step in the property division during a divorce is to make sure all property is properly classified as marital or separate. Some funds or assets can be hard to classify, and issues such as how assets are titled might help to clarify or only muddy the issue. The matter gets especially complex when marital and separate property are commingled in the same account, when separate property is used for marital purposes, or when marital funds are used to improve separate property.
Equally important to a proper classification is making sure every marital asset is valued accurately. Items might need to be appraised, and disputes can arise over the value of a piece of property. When one or both spouses owns a business or an interest in a business, then a professional business valuation may be necessary. Unfortunately, there are several different ways to value a business, which makes this another area that can be ripe for dispute.
If one party believes the other is hiding assets through shell companies or fraudulent transfers, it might be necessary to get help from forensic accountants and other experts to trace those funds or hidden assets and make sure they are included.
Skilled and Knowledgeable Representation in Atlanta Divorce and Property Division
Our solution-oriented Atlanta divorce attorneys can help with all aspects of property division in divorce, including classifying property as marital or separate, valuing marital property correctly, negotiating an amicable split of marital property, or litigating complex cases in court.
For help with property division in your Atlanta-area divorce, call Kaye, Lembeck, Hitt & French Family Law to make sure your rights are protected and that your interests are represented in the division of property.