A person’s financial situation can change dramatically following a divorce. Regardless of what the former couple’s previous circumstances, the shift in responsibility for bills, expenses, childcare, and home upkeep can add significant financial strain.

If you are thinking about a divorce, speak with a Fulton County division of assets lawyer as soon as possible. A dedicated team of family law attorneys can help you create a plan to protect what matters most and manage your joint debts.

Understanding Marital Property

The first step in dividing a married couple’s property during a divorce is to determine which separately-owned assets are not part of the marital estate. In general, anything that either person acquires during the marriage is marital property.

Marital property includes items that one person buys for themselves alone or debts that one spouse takes on with or without the other spouse’s knowledge. The only types of debts or assets that are not considered marital property are those that a spouse:

  • Owned or owed before the marriage;
  • Received as an individual gift from a third party during the marriage; and
  • Received as an inheritance during the marriage.

After the separate property is removed from the equation, the parties (or a judge) can divide the marital estate. Georgia is an equitable distribution state, which means that a judge is not required to split the property equally. Instead, the assets and debts are shared fairly based on each party’s circumstances.

How Assets and Debts Are Divided

Marital property can be split by the parties themselves during mediation or other negotiations, or a judge may make the decisions. Under Georgia law, a judge looks at several factors when determining which person should retain certain assets and who should pay each debt. Some factors a judge could consider include:

  • The financial status of each of the parties;
  • Amount of assets and separate property owned by each party;
  • Education, work experience, and employment of each party;
  • Future and present earning capacity; and
  • Conduct of parties before and during the divorce.

Usually, a judge will divide property based on the needs of each person. For instance, if one spouse stayed at home and cared for children while the other has a high-paying career, the homemaker may receive more assets and property while the other may be responsible for paying a greater share of the debt.

A judge may also use the equitable distribution law to punish one of the parties for wrongdoing. For example, if one spouse liquidates assets or hides money from their spouse. During a divorce, a judge can punish this behavior by awarding more property (or less debt) to the person harmed.

Judges do not frequently divide all a former couple’s marital property, however. In most cases, the parties will decide how assets should be distributed during mediation sessions or negotiations. A judge will generally only get involved in property division if a divorcing couple cannot come to an agreement or owns a significant amount of property.

A Fulton County Division of Assets Attorney Can Be an Advocate

The best way to make sure to maintain control over the process of splitting marital property is to speak with a helpful Fulton County division of assets lawyer. By working with an attorney, you can better understand your rights and options. Schedule your appointment with a member of the team to start protecting your legal rights.

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