When we first meet with a new client, they often have a lot of questions. Many of these questions have to do with how their property will be divided. Our Columbus divorce lawyers have decades of combined experience handling complicated, high-end divorces.
The Hardest Part About a High-End Divorce Is Dividing Your Marital Assets
As far as divorce is concerned, the most difficult thing to work out is child custody and child support. However, it can be very frustrating to try to divide your marital assets. Your spouse may try to claim a right to your separate property. This includes your inheritance.
Once your marriage starts unraveling, your spouse’s priorities may change. Despite the conversations you have had over the years, your spouse may try to manipulate the situation so they can claim property that they have no legal right to.
What Property Is Subject to Equitable Distribution?
One of the first questions clients ask our divorce attorneys in Columbus is how their property will be divided. Many of them assume that their property will be split right down the middle. In actuality, very few cases work out this way.
According to Georgia Statute §19-5-13, the judge will not divide your property 50/50. Instead, they will instruct your Columbus divorce lawyers to divide the property fairly and equitably.
Any real property you and your spouse own together will be considered marital assets. This includes the marital home and any other properties you own. Many of the cases our divorce attorneys in Columbus handle involve such things as rental and vacation homes.
As you can imagine, the judge cannot cut the homes in half and give each spouse their share. Your lawyer will have to negotiate a fair division with your spouse’s attorney.
For example, if there are four properties, you would each get two, as long as the values are comparable.
Usually, the battles our Columbus divorce lawyers handle don’t involve personal property. However, in a high-end divorce, personal property items tend to be more valuable than in simple divorces.
Personal property that you and your spouse purchased together will be considered subject to equitable distribution. This would include things like furniture, electronics, and bikes.
Artwork, Jewelry, and Other Collectibles
While art, jewelry, and other collectibles may be personal property, your divorce attorney in Columbus will have to give them extra attention. If you and your spouse own legitimate art pieces, you would need to have them appraised.
Once the actual values are determined, your attorney would do their best to work something out where both you and your spouse get fair amounts.
Vehicles and Boats
In some of the high-end divorces our Columbus divorce lawyers handle, there are multiple vehicles and boats to contend with. These are vehicles other than those that you and your spouse drive on a daily basis.
For the most part, cars are divided based on who drives them. If there are additional boats or cars involved, they may have to be sold so that the proceeds can be divided equally.
Your Divorce Attorney in Columbus Will Challenge Your Spouse’s Efforts to Claim a Right to Your Inheritance
One type of property that you need to be especially careful with is your inheritance. Any property you are left in an inheritance is not a marital asset. For example, if your aunt left you $100,000 when she passed away, your spouse isn’t entitled to any of that money.
The same is true if your spouse inherits property. If, for example, they inherit a boat or beach house, it will not be subject to equitable distribution.
Is There a Way for Your Spouse to Rightfully Claim Part of Your Inheritance?
Generally, your spouse is not entitled to your inheritance when you get divorced. However, there are several ways in which they can claim a legal right to this property. In each case, you have to do something intentional for them to share in your inheritance.
A few examples of how this can happen are discussed in detail below.
Did You Deposit Your Inheritance Into a Joint Account?
If your inheritance is cash or some other form of currency, you may decide to deposit it into a joint account. Once you combine this money with the rest of your household funds, it can be difficult if not impossible to track.
In many instances, the courts have held that once the money is placed in the joint account, you are giving your spouse carte blanche to spend that money. If this happens, your spouse will be entitled to half of the money deposited.
Did Your Spouse Somehow Improve or Increase the Value of Your Inheritance?
Another way your spouse can earn a right to your inheritance is if they improve upon it. For example, if you inherit a plot of land, your spouse may develop it into a small housing development.
If this happens, they will have significantly increased the value of your initial inheritance. They will likely be entitled to their share in the event of divorce.
Did You Invest the Inheritance and Add Your Spouse’s Name to the Deed?
One final way you can unknowingly turn your inheritance into a marital asset is by investing it. If you invest your inheritance and then add your spouse’s name to the investment property, they may be entitled to half in the divorce.
Call an Experienced Columbus Divorce Lawyer Today!
If you’re afraid of what may happen to your inheritance when you get divorced, we can help. Our divorce attorneys in Columbus have handled hundreds of divorce cases. Some of them were simple. Others have involved very complicated property issues.
When it comes to your marital settlement agreement, it’s critical that you have someone with a legally trained eye review it. If your spouse has a Columbus divorce lawyer and you don’t, you will be at a serious disadvantage.
The judge will not treat you any differently simply because you aren’t represented by an attorney. They’ll hold you to the same standard as your spouse’s lawyer. If you aren’t careful, you could lose part of your inheritance to your future ex-spouse.
Call our office today so you can schedule an appointment with one of our divorce attorneys in Columbus.