The Marital Balance Sheet: What Assets Are Subject to Division in Georgia
The division of marital assets can be a tricky and complex undertaking. At Buckhead Family Law, one of the most common questions that we hear when assisting clients going through a divorce is, “what property is subject to division in Georgia?” Are there things that are solely your own and do not have to be divided? Unfortunately, there is no “short, easy answer” to this question. Martial asset division is complicated and can get messy, which is why you need to retain the services of an experienced divorce lawyer who can assess your unique situation and guide you through the process.
Most divorces, even if seemingly simple, will require significant preparation, paperwork, and discussion regarding property division. Knowing what properties are subject to division going into these discussions can help you to avoid surprises and remain realistic about what you are entitled to (and what you must concede) during the divorce. Below are some of the most significant assets to be equitably divided, but keep in mind all marital assets are fair game, including the furnishings in your home, (very importantly) your pets, and even hotel reward points and frequent flier miles.
Your Marital Residence
The home where you reside and any other properties that you own (including vacation homes) may be subject to division in Georgia courts. Sometimes, one party will be about to “buy out” the other so that they are able to keep the home. In such cases, an appraisal of the marital residence may be necessary if you cannot agree on the value. In other instances, if a “buy out” agreement cannot be reached, then the home will need to be sold, and the proceeds can be divided equitably after satisfaction of the debt on the home.
Another important consideration regarding valuation and division of the marital residence arises when one party owned the home prior to marriage. In such cases, consideration will be given to the initial separate investment in the residence, market appreciation in the value of the home, payments made on the home during the marriage and the source of those funds, how much work was put into the home during the marriage, and what work will need to be carried out in order to sell the home. The martial residence is often one of the most difficult divisions to make, as it is often the largest financial asset for many divorcing couples and can have important an important impact on maintaining stability for one spouse or the children.
Division of your retirement accounts can be one of the hardest aspects of a divorce, especially if you or your soon-to-be ex are near retirement age. You will need to think about everything from your traditional pension to your 401K to your IRA. There can be important tax implications if these accounts are not properly divided, and for some accounts a Qualified Domestic Relations Order may be required to split the retirement assets.
This is a messy, grey area because not everyone fully and accurately understands the laws and financial implications of splitting up these accounts. Early on, it is best to retain the services of a proven divorce attorney who has experience successfully working with this type of martial asset division. Otherwise, your divorce proceedings can turn hostile (and often unfair) very quickly.
When it comes to what property is subject to division in Georgia, businesses are certainly complex pieces of the puzzle. And thus, one of the hardest aspects of divorce is how to divide a business equitably. This is because businesses are usually a significant asset on the marital balance sheet and the culmination of a lifetime of hard work, particularly if the business is something that has been in a family for years (or even generations). The valuation of the business is significant and will likely require collaboration between your divorce attorney and forensic CPA. Once a value for the business has been obtained, it’s important to note that are a few different scenarios that can take place, including:
- The business may be awarded to the spouse who has the greater involvement, and the other spouse will be compensated for their ownership in return.
- Sometimes, the court can order the business to be sold, and the proceeds are equitably divided.
- Very rarely, the business will continue to be owned and jointly operated by the ex-spouses.
Retain Legal Counsel As Soon As Possible
While the division of marital property can be tricky, it doesn’t have to morph into the nightmare that you often hear about. Luckily, you don’t have to fight this battle alone. Every family is unique, and at Buckhead Family Law, our experienced legal team can help you build a strong martial asset division case that works best for you and your family. The lawyers at Buckhead Family Law are here to assist you and help this be a positive turning point for your family. Schedule a consultation by calling at 404-600-1403.