Dividing Property in a Divorce: Mediation vs. Litigation

While every divorce is different, the law requires every divorcing couple to resolve certain matters before ending their marriage. One such issue is the division of property, assets, and debts. Some spouses agree right away on property division, while others must battle it out in court.

The following is an overview of how property division might work if you engage in divorce mediation or litigation. To discuss your specific situation and concerns about a possible divorce, never wait to consult with our Gwinnett County divorce lawyers at Banks, Stubbs & McFarland.

Property Division in Mediation

If divorce negotiations are not immediately successful, you and your spouse have the option of attending divorce mediation. Mediation involves a neutral mediator (not one of your attorneys) who will facilitate conversation and compromise regarding any unresolved issues. Successful mediation can have many benefits, including saving you time and money.

One benefit of mediation is that you and your spouse maintain control over the outcome. With help from your mediator and attorneys, you can decide together how to best divide your marital property. Once you sign the mediation agreement, the court will incorporate the terms into your divorce order. If you do not agree to a specific property division arrangement, you do not have to sign anything at all.

Many spouses can agree to mutually beneficial property division terms, each addressing what is most important to them. You should have skilled legal representation during any type of mediation proceeding.

How Georgia Courts Divide Marital Property in Divorce Litigation

If you cannot agree on a resolution through mediation or negotiation, you might need to take the matter of property division before the family court. When you engage in litigation, the judge will hear the evidence and arguments of each spouse and decide on property division in line with Georgia law. You lose control over the ultimate outcome of this matter when you go to court, so you need to have a highly experienced divorce litigator representing your rights.

Equitable Distribution of Marital Property

Georgia law follows the principle of equitable distribution when dividing marital property in divorce litigation. Equitable distribution does not necessarily mean equal distribution; rather, it seeks to divide marital property in a fair and just manner based on various factors. Here's how Georgia courts handle the division of marital property:

The court will distinguish between marital property (acquired during the marriage) and separate property (owned prior to marriage or acquired through inheritance or gift). All marital property is subject to division, while separate property generally remains with the owner.

Georgia courts consider several factors when dividing marital property, including:

  • The duration of the marriage
  • The financial and non-financial contributions of each spouse
  • The value of each spouse's separate property
  • The needs of each spouse
  • The overall economic circumstances

Equitable distribution does not guarantee a 50/50 split of property. Instead, the court aims to achieve a distribution that considers the unique circumstances of the marriage and the contributions of both spouses.

Our Gwinnett County Divorce Attorneys Can Help

Consulting with a family law attorney in Gwinnett County can provide essential guidance on navigating the property division process in Georgia, ensuring that your rights and interests are protected during divorce mediation or litigation. Banks, Stubbs & McFarland is ready to help, so please contact us for more information.