What are Georgia's Community Property Laws?
Facing a divorce potentially means giving up some of your assets, whether by choice or otherwise. This fact alone keeps many people from pursuing a divorce when they really want one. However, understanding Georgia's property laws and how they impact divorce couples can give you the knowledge and confidence you need to move forward. When you hire an experienced Cumming divorce lawyer, you can be assured that your property rights are protected.
What is Community Property?
In a divorce proceeding, the court determines what should be categorized as marital property or separate property. Typically, marital property belongs to both spouses and was earned or acquired during the course of the marriage. On the other hand, separate property is property that one spouse came into the marriage with or property that one spouse received as a gift or inheritance. It's only the marital property that can be divided in a divorce. Each respective spouse should keep their individual property.
Under the legal framework of community property, shared assets, or marital property, must be divided equally between two divorcing spouses. However, Georgia is not a community property state; rather, it's an equitable distribution state.
What Does Equitable Distribution Mean?
In an equitable distribution state like Georgia, the focus is on equity and not an equal split. To accomplish this, the family court will consider many factors, including:
- How long the marriage lasted
- The current health and age of each spouse
- The income and property of each spouse at the time they married
- The income and property of each spouse at the time the divorce filing was made
- The value of benefits (health insurance or retirement accounts) that either spouse will lose in the divorce
- The contributions made in the form of labor, support, or money by either spouse during the marriage
- The contribution either spouse made to supporting the increase of the other spouse's earning potential
- If the marital assets are liquid or non-liquid
- Tax consequences of the distribution of assets
- If alimony is involved
- Monetary wastefulness of either spouse—such as spending extravagant amounts of money after filing for divorce
- Any other factor the court finds to be relevant in determining a fair distribution of the property
In a nutshell, the judge considers each spouse's contribution to the marriage and what each will need to move forward after the divorce when making decisions about equitable distribution. For instance, if one spouse will incur more significant tax consequences due to the assets they receive, they might receive more of other assets.
However, a skilled Cumming divorce attorney may be able to help you settle your divorce with your spouse. In this way, you may be able to keep more of the property that is important to you, and perhaps your spouse can also keep more of the property that is important to them.
Going Through a Divorce? Rely on a Knowledgeable Cumming Divorce Lawyer to Protect Your Rights
Even though Georgia is not a community property state, it's still essential to have legal representation from a knowledgeable Cumming divorce attorney when you go through this process. Your attorney ensures that your rights are protected, can help you negotiate with your soon-to-be ex-spouse, and may be able to recommend some creative solutions to your property disputes. At Banks, Stubbs & McFarland, we offer no-obligation case reviews. Schedule yours today by calling 770.887.1209 or completing our online form.