One of the biggest aspects of a divorce is usually property division. If there are no minor children involved, this may be the single biggest bone of contention. Property includes real estate, vehicles, brokerage accounts, financial assets, and interests in retirement accounts and corporations. Whether you’re thinking of divorcing your spouse or you’ve been recently served with papers, you may be worried about what will happen to your assets and those of your spouse.
The first step will be to identify all the property and assets owned by either spouse and differentiate between marital property and separate property. Marital property refers to all the assets that were acquired during the marriage with the exception of inheritances and gifts from third parties. Separate property refers to those assets that each party had before the marriage except gifts from others and inheritances. Gifts that were given from one spouse to the other are considered marital property.
The way property is divided during a divorce hinges in large part on whether it is marital or separate. You’ll, therefore, want to ensure that all the property is classified correctly. This will help to ensure that it is all distributed fairly. You should hire a divorce attorney in Albany, GA to make sure your interests are protected.
How Marital Property is Divided
If you own separate property, you’ll typically get to keep it after the divorce. However, marital property is usually divided according to the rules of equitable distribution. Contrary to what you may have heard, each spouse is not automatically entitled to half of the assets in Georgia. Similarly, neither spouse should get everything while the other is left with nothing. Equitable distribution means dividing the assets according to what is fair.
It’s important to note that you don’t have to rely on the court to divide your assets. Many divorcing spouses try to avoid additional stress, time, and costs by negotiating a settlement on their own. If you opt to do this, your attorney will assist you in entering a written agreement. This will be placed on the court’s records and it will be legally enforceable. This is the preferred method but unsurprisingly, former partners often find it difficult to agree.
If you and your spouse can’t reach an agreement, the court will have to decide. Judges will look at a number of factors in order to determine the share each spouse should get. This includes each individual’s contribution to the marriage, both financial and otherwise. For this reason, no two divorces are alike. You shouldn’t assume that your case will have the same outcome as someone else’s.
Some of the things the judge will consider are:
- How long the marriage lasted
- How much each spouse earns or can earn in the future
- Whether one spouse supported the other financially
- Your standard of living during the marriage
Other factors can come into play if the court deems them relevant.
For many couples, the marital home is the most valuable asset. This is considered joint property. While the judge may use the factors listed above to decide who gets it, there are additional considerations. For example, if children are involved, the custodial parent often gets to stay in the home. This is because the courts want to ensure that children have a stable home environment. If neither party can afford to keep the home, the judge may order that it be sold, and the proceeds split.
The Possibility of Asset Concealment
Many individuals assume that they knew about all of their spouse’s assets. However, you should consider the possibility that your partner hid some of their property. This could prevent you from being treated fairly during the divorce. If your soon-to-be ex is concealing assets, they may:
- Be secretive about financial matters
- Complain about unusual money problems
- Take on large amounts of debt
- Open several bank accounts
- Spend more than they should be able to based on what they say they earn
Contact Joe Durham Jr. P.C. for Help
Divorce is a big deal and you need to hire a divorce lawyer in Albany who will look out for your interests. You’ll want to ensure that all the property is accounted for and distributed appropriately. Divorce can be highly emotional, but your attorney will be dispassionate. Call Joe Durham Jr. P.C. today to discuss your case and learn how you can get the best possible outcome.