Who Gets What in a Divorce? Part 1

When your marriage is failing, the idea of divorce will sound freeing and refreshing to some, but intimidating to others. People change and moving on with your separate lives can be the best thing for both you and your spouse, but that doesn’t take away the stress of the divorce process. Too many couples put off filing for divorce longer than they should because they dread the complicated legal process of dividing their assets and they fear what the outcome will be. For many couples, the idea of dividing custody and setting up a parenting plan can be enough to make you shy away from divorce all together. To give you an idea of what to expect, our experienced divorce attorneys are here to provide some valuable insight with the first of our two-part blog series.

What Does Equitable Distribution Mean?

In the process of your divorce, you’ll hear the term “equitable distribution of assets” often. In a nutshell, this refers to dividing up your shared assets in a way that meets both spouses’ needs as well as possible. It doesn’t necessarily mean dividing everything 50/50. Your arrangement will depend on each spouse’s plans for life after the divorce, who values each asset more, and other factors. You can divide all assets by agreement, or you can agree upon certain assets and leave the rest for the Court to determine. If you and your spouse can’t reach any agreement, the Court will divide all of the assets in a way that is equitable and fair in the eyes of the Court.

Equitable Distribution is More About Negotiation Than Laws

Some people expect to have laws established to settle divorces quickly and effectively. In reality, the laws about dividing assets during a divorce are broad and general. The process is more about negotiating on a case-by-case basis and less about widespread legal guidelines.

This is why it’s so important to hire an experienced divorce lawyer. In addition to being experts in Georgia divorce laws, we’re also experts in negotiating an equitable distribution between divorcing spouses.

Marital and Separate Property Isn’t Black and White

In a typical divorce, any property that either spouse owned before the marriage is separate property and that property stays with its initial owner. However, it is common for one party to develop a marital interest in the other’s pre-marital property. The assets you need to divide include anything you acquired during the marriage, as well as a determination of martial interest in certain pre-marital property. There are, however, some exceptions that can be confusing if you aren’t well-versed in divorce law.

In Georgia, there are certain types of assets you can acquire during your marriage that are still defined as separate property, not marital property. These primarily include inherited property, certain gifts that were given to one spouse alone, and legal settlements that are in only one spouse’s name. There are also complexities with certain situations. For instance, what if one spouse owned a home before the marriage but you improved it in some way as a couple? Or, what if your joint marital funds have been paying toward the mortgage? Divorce lawyers can help you navigate scenarios like these and divide your assets fairly.

Divorce is one of those forks in the road that so many people face. It is an opportunity for you to pursue new forms of happiness and to start the next great chapter in your life. However, it’s also a time when you have to be practical and deal with complicated financial matters. The key is hiring a divorce lawyer who knows the ropes and can help you through the process while working toward a fair arrangement for your new life. If you’re ready to have the best on your side, schedule a consultation with Oxendine Family Law. Don’t forget to keep an eye out for part two of our series for more helpful information about how assets are divided during a divorce.