Asset Division Process
An essential part of any divorce proceeding is the division of assets. The asset division process involves identifying the assets that exist, determining how to divide them, and taking the necessary steps to complete the division process. Arriving at an appropriate division of assets is an important step in a Georgia divorce proceeding.
How Can a Georgia Divorce Lawyer Help With the Division of Assets?
A Georgia asset division lawyer assists the client with every step of the asset division process. They work to identify assets and determine what qualifies as a marital asset, including taking the steps necessary to prove the value of the asset. An asset division lawyer is crucial to help the client negotiate for an equitable distribution of the assets or request that the court order the correct distribution of assets in the case.
If you’re facing a divorce in Georgia, the attorneys at Kessler & Solomiany, LLC can help you ensure that you take the proper steps to achieve a fair distribution of marital assets. Our legal team fights to help you identify what marital assets exist in the case, value those assets, and reach a fair outcome for distribution. Call us today at (404) 688-8810 for a consultation with an experienced team member.
What Is a Marital Asset Under Georgia Divorce Law?
Georgia divorce law specifies that a marital asset is any piece of property, money, benefit, right or interest that comes to either party during the marriage; a marital asset is any asset or positive interest that either spouse gains during the marriage. Any of the following may be considered a marital asset:
- Real property (marital home, second home, rental property, and time-shares)
- Personal property (household items, heirlooms, vehicles, boats, recreational vehicles)
- Bank accounts (savings and checking accounts)
- Stocks and bonds, other investments
- Retirement accounts (401(k), individual retirement accounts)
- Pension benefits and work credits
- Interest in a business
- Lottery winnings or an inheritance
Even if one party solely acquired an asset (for example, by working at a job), it is considered a marital asset if one spouse earned it during the marriage. Marital debts are also subject to division.
What Is the Asset Division Process in a Georgia Divorce?
The asset division process in a Georgia divorce has three steps: identifying marital assets, valuing the assets, and determining how to divide them. Identifying marital assets means determining whether something qualifies as a marital asset. Sometimes, one spouse is unaware of what exists in the marital estate. That spouse may work with their attorney to undertake formal discovery actions that help them identify marital assets.
There may also be questions as to whether an asset qualifies as marital property or separate property. For example, a spouse may bring a vehicle into the marriage, but they might have maintained the vehicle using marital funds. Whether an asset is marital is a fact-specific question.
Dividing assets may occur either by agreement of the parties or by court decision. In most cases, the parties reach a consent agreement that divides marital assets. Working with an experienced Georgia asset division lawyer is critical to the negotiation process. An experienced attorney helps the spouse understand whether a settlement is appropriate under Georgia law. They help the client negotiate and argue effectively with the other party for a fair distribution of the marital assets.
How Does the Court Divide Assets in a Georgia Divorce?
In a Georgia divorce, the court makes an equitable distribution of the assets. The court does not have to award an equal amount to each spouse; instead, the court must determine what is a fair distribution given all the relevant circumstances. The following factors are those that the court uses to examine how to divide assets:
- Contributions of either party to the marital estate — A party may contribute to the marital estate by working or by caring for the home and children. Putting a spouse through school or contributing nonmarital funds to the marriage are other ways to contribute to a marriage.
- Value of nonmarital property — If one party has a disproportionate amount of nonmarital property, it may influence the amount of marital property that the other party receives.
- Fault — Although it may not entitle a spouse to the entire marital estate, fault (such as adultery or spousal abuse) may impact the distribution of assets.
- Duration of the marriage — A short-term marriage where the parties have similar earning capacity may have a different division of assets than a long-term marriage where the parties have a disparity in income potential.
- Age and health of the parties — The needs of the parties going forward factors into asset distribution.
- Source or means of acquisition — A family heirloom may be returned to the spouse whose family owned it; inheritance may be disproportionately awarded to the receiving spouse.
- Alimony awards — The amount of alimony one spouse pays to the other may impact the distribution of assets. A party may receive real or personal property in place of alimony.
- Other relevant factors — The court will consider other relevant factors when determining the division of assets.
The parties do not have to split each asset in two. Instead, the court offsets assets against each other. For example, one spouse may keep the marital home while the other receives a retirement account. The nicer vehicle may go to one spouse in exchange for taking on a corresponding amount of marital debt. The parties and the court, if necessary, have broad discretion in determining how to divide assets.
How Do the Parties Distribute Assets in a Divorce?
The judgment of divorce may require each spouse to take further actions to divide the property as ordered. For example, if the judgment of divorce leaves real estate to one spouse, the other spouse may need to prepare and execute a deed. The parties may need to prepare additional paperwork to divide retirement accounts or pension accounts. The parties may have a deadline to complete the transfer of property.
Contact Our Georgia Asset Division Divorce Attorneys
It’s important to take steps to arrive at the correct division of the assets through careful examination and evidence gathering. The experienced divorce attorneys at Kessler & Solomiany, LLC help clients pursue appropriate division of assets, including taking the case to trial if it is advantageous for the client. Call (404) 688-8810 for a confidential consultation with a member of our team.