Alpharetta practices common law property, which means that all marital assets (i.e. any property accumulated or held jointly by both spouses during their marriage) is subject to equitable distribution upon divorce or separation. Separate property remains under the ownership of the individual spouse who brought it into the marriage, acquired it during the marriage with their own funds and kept it separate, acquired it after a legal separation was filed, or is identified as the sole owner in any ratified prenuptial or postnuptial agreement.
In the absence of an agreement between the parties, the doctrine of equitable distribution requires a judge or jury to ascertain the total value of marital property at dissolution and to divide that proportionately between the spouses. In other words, if divorcing spouses cannot agree, the outcome of asset division is not guaranteed. For this reason, it is advisable to ask an attorney about obtaining a favorable outcome in Alpharetta asset division.
It is very beneficial for divorcing couples to come to an agreement about the division of their separate and marital property if at all possible. In Alpharetta, a divorce may be granted by a trial court which reserves the issues of alimony and division of property for a future date. Without an agreement, the couple can face two separate trials, one to grant the divorce, and one to deal with the financial arrangements.
This can be tremendously expensive for the couple, frequently consuming the scarce resources they seek to divide. It also draws out the conflict on a public stage (i.e. the courthouse, before a jury) unnecessarily for a much longer time than alternative dispute resolution (ADR) methods such as mediation or arbitration. Where the decisions are left to a judge or jury, it is entirely possible that neither spouse ends up feeling satisfied.
Where both parties have had the opportunity to contribute to the decision, make appropriate compromises or trades, and think through the consequences of their choices with the help of trained professionals, they can come out feeling much more satisfied with the results. This leads to fewer appeals and a smoother transition in divorce, which can benefit the children of the marriage especially, as the parents are available to focus on their needs instead of expending their emotional energy fighting and resenting the other spouse.
Fortunately, the Constitution of Georgia mandates that the Georgia Supreme Court provide time- and cost-effective resolutions to all cases. The Georgia Supreme Court has established their Commission on Dispute Resolution expressly to help fulfill this mandate, and most counties today have implemented Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Programs in their courts. These often require that a couple attempt ADR prior to trial.
Therefore, ADR plays a role in obtaining a positive outcome in the division of assets in Alpharetta. Most attorneys today feel they prefer to leave litigation behind entirely and instead engage in alternative conflict resolution. They have experienced the benefits for their clients and for themselves of non-contentious ways to come to agreements on property division and other related matters.
Equal distribution would mean a 50/50 division, where each spouse receives exactly half of the value of the marital estate. This sometimes happens in equitable distribution when the earning power, financial status, and balance of contributions of each spouse are roughly equivalent. But equitable distribution does not always result in an equal split. The goal of equitable distribution is to divide property accumulated during the marriage as fairly as possible between the parties.
For instance, if one party was able to work and earn a living, but the other spouse was permanently disabled in an accident and drew only Workers’ Compensation benefits, a trial court judgment of a 50/50 split could be appealed to the Supreme Court for a retrial of the property division questions and a more fair – not more equal – settlement between the parties.
Parties or their legal counsel are free to object to the evidence, logic, or conclusions at trial. Even if overruled, these objections can register with an appellate court as special foci for their attention upon review.
A party who is dissatisfied with the outcome of their Alpharetta asset division as ordered by the divorce court may appeal it to the Supreme Court of Georgia, which has appellate jurisdiction in all divorce and alimony cases. The Supreme Court reviews the actions of the trial court, the fairness of the couple’s proportionate allotment, and the outcome of the court’s distribution. It serves as an additional set of eyes on the logic and process of dividing property in the trial courts.
If the Supreme Court finds fault with the trial court’s procedure or outcome, it can remand the trial or reverse the court’s decision, both critiquing the actions of the trial court in their opinions and offering a remedy to the couple.
Atlanta Divorce Law Group