Asset and debt division is just one facet of a Georgia divorce that can vary significantly from state to state. There are nine community property states left in the United States: Arizona, Wisconsin, Washington, Texas, New Mexico, California, Louisiana, Nevada, and Idaho. In community property states the assets of a divorcing couple are split exactly down the middle, 50/50. All other states, including Georgia, are equitable division states. This means that the marital assets will be split fairly, but not necessarily equally. Not only are marital property and assets divided fairly, but debts are divided equitably as well.
Like most aspects of a divorce, the division of assets and debts can get emotional and contentious very fast. In some extreme cases, couples have been known to spend more on attorney’s fees fighting over a specific asset than the asset was actually worth. It can be extremely beneficial to have an experienced, knowledgeable asset and debt division attorney from Alderman & Hutcherson by your side during a Georgia divorce. Not only can you rest easy knowing everything will be done right, but you will always know you have a strong advocate in your corner from start to finish.
Asset and Debt Division in Georgia
Before assets and debts can be divided during a divorce, it is important to distinguish between marital and non-marital assets and debts. Any asset or debt that was acquired by the couple during their marriage is considered marital property and marital debt—regardless of whose name is on the asset or debt. This includes cars, homes, businesses, furnishing, and virtually every other asset, as well as credit card debt, mortgages, medical debt and other types of debts. A spouse’s separate property or non-marital property is not subject to equitable division.
Separate property is any property acquired by one spouse prior to the marriage or acquired by the spouse via gift or inheritance so long as the property is not commingled with marital property. In other words, if your great aunt leaves you her beach house and $50,000 while you are married, it is considered your sole and separate property unless you add the money to your joint account and your spouse’s name to the title of the house. Even if you keep the property separate, the interest on the money or the appreciated value of the house during the marriage could be subject to marital division. A knowledgeable asset and debt division attorney from Alderman & Hutcherson can help you and your spouse determine what assets and debts are marital, and which are separate, so the division is fair.
How Do You Calculate Asset & Debt Division in Georgia?
If a couple is unable to divide their assets and debts on their own or with a mediator, a Georgia judge will do it for them. Since there is no set formula for dividing marital property and debt, certain factors will be considered, including the following:
- The contributions of each spouse to the actual acquisition and maintenance of any marital property or assets
- The purpose and intent of both spouses regarding the ownership of the properties
- How long the marriage has lasted
- What each spouse has as far as separate property
- Whether either spouse has been married prior to this marriage
- The level of “service” contributed by each spouse to the family
- Whether there was misconduct or “fault” by one spouse that caused the breakdown of the marriage
- Whether alimony is awarded to either spouse
- Each spouse’s income and earning capacity
- Any misconduct on the part of a spouse that resulted in dissipation of marital assets
- The debts of each spouse
- The future needs of both spouses, including retirement needs
It is extremely important to have an Alderman & Hutcherson asset and debt division attorney by your side during your entire divorce, including the division of assets and debts. The decisions made regarding asset and debt division can affect your entire future, making it especially important that the division be fair. In some cases, one spouse may be hiding assets, making it even more important to have a strong attorney who can ensure all assets and debts are clearly identified before being divided. At Alderman & Hutcherson, we can protect your assets while moving the proceedings along with the least amount of stress.
What is Exempt from Asset & Debt Division?
To expound a bit on the issue of non-marital, separate property, that is exempt from asset division during a divorce, it is important to understand the term “transmutation.” This term applies to property that has been transformed from one spouse’s separate property into marital property, thus subject to division during a divorce. Property owned prior to the marriage, acquired by gift from a third-party, or received by inheritance is considered separate property, thus excluded from equitable division.
If the spouse who owns the separate property causes the property to be mixed with marital property, it is considered to be transmuted. In addition to the obvious ways of commingling property (like adding the other spouse’s name to the property), there are other less obvious ways. For instance, if you were left a fixer-upper by a relative, and you and your spouse spend the next ten years fixing the house up, then the court may consider the work and money contributed by your spouse as an indication that the house is marital property—or at least partially marital property.
If you and your spouse fixed the house up and sold it, then the proceeds could well be considered marital property. Likewise, if you deposit separate funds into your joint marital account, they may be considered marital property unless you can trace the separate property to its origin—a challenging, time-consuming process. The Alderman & Hutcherson asset and debt division attorneys are highly experienced in all aspects of equitable distribution, including those involving tracing separate property, complex financial issues, or high net worth.
How Alderman & Hutcherson Can Help
Asset and debt division during a divorce can be difficult, however, having a highly-skilled Alderman & Hutcherson asset and debt division attorney from Macon by your side can make the process much easier and less stressful—while ensuring you receive your fair share of the marital assets. Do not attempt to handle these issues on your own, rather reach out to the experienced asset and debt division attorneys at Alderman & Hutcherson so you can receive the help you need and deserve to keep your assets protected.