Is Georgia a Community Property State?

couple sitting with mediator
Jun 28, 2024 | Content

People considering divorce often worry about how dissolving the marriage will impact them financially. The specifics depend on how the state they live in treats the property the couple acquired since marriage.

Is Georgia a community property state? It is not. Georgia uses the equitable distribution model when deciding how much each spouse gets in a divorce.

The Difference Between Community Property and Equitable Distribution

Under both the community property and equitable distribution systems, and according to the Official Code of Georgia § 19-3-9, anything either spouse owned when they got married is that spouse’s separate property. Anything either spouse acquired since the marriage or anything the couple acquired together is marital property subject to division.

Under both systems, the couple can identify property that would typically be marital property as separate in a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement. In addition, anything either spouse inherits as an individual is their separate property if they treat it as separate during the marriage. Gifts to one spouse are also considered separate property.

The community property system assumes an equal split of all marital property is fair. Georgia’s equitable distribution process requires a judge to consider the couple’s circumstances and fairly divide their assets. That could mean a 50/50 split, but sometimes, one spouse leaves the marriage with substantially more of the marital property than the other.

Factors Judges Consider When Making an Equitable Distribution

Georgia’s approach to property division is more flexible than a community property approach. That flexibility means predicting how much you will take out of the marriage may be more challenging.

When dividing property, the judge considers how long you were married and whether one of you was the primary breadwinner or both of you contributed substantially to the household income. If one spouse supported the other through their education and training, that contribution could be a factor in the property division award. The law recognizes that homemaking and child-rearing are valuable contributions to a marriage.

The courts also divide marital debt in a divorce. The judge will consider who incurred the debt, its purpose, and who benefitted from it. It is critical to work with a skilled attorney to ensure the property and debt division is fair.

Negotiated Settlements Are Preferable in Most Cases

Although judges try to be fair when dividing marital property and debt, you and your spouse are best positioned to understand what is fair in your circumstances. When you can work together to divide your property fairly, there is a better chance the agreement will be equitable.

Some couples use a collaborative divorce process to divide their property and debt. The couple and their attorneys must agree not to litigate the divorce; then, they hire experts to help them value their marital property and reach a fair settlement. Couples who cannot commit to avoiding litigation could try mediation to resolve their property division issues.

Collaborative divorce or mediation may not be successful if you and your spouse cannot communicate productively. In such cases, your attorneys could negotiate directly with you and your spouse.

Get Help From an Experienced Attorney When Dividing Property in Divorce

Since Georgia is not a community property state, a couple’s marital property will not necessarily be divided equally in a divorce. Equitable distribution requires a fair division of property and debt, not an equal one.

Work with a skilled Georgia attorney when you decide to divorce. Skilled representation can make a significant difference in your property settlement. Reach out to our team today to schedule a free consultation.


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