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Georgia Marital Property vs. Separate Property

When it comes to dividing property in a divorce, Georgia law makes a distinction between separate property and marital property.  In general, separate property is property such as real estate, jewelry or other significant assets that were acquired prior to the marriage.  On the other hand, marital property is property that is accumulated during the marriage.  Marital property is subject to what is known under Georgia law as equitable division.  That means that a judge or jury must determine how to divide the property fairly between spouses.  Conversely, separate property is not divided but rather is awarded solely to the spouse who owns it.

Classifying Property as Marital Property or Separate Property

Classifying property as marital property or separate property often requires a careful analysis of how the property was acquired and the contributions of the respective parties.  As a general rule, property that is acquired prior to marriage is separate property, and property that is acquired during marriage is marital property.  However, there are numerous exceptions and variations to this general rule.  For example, if one spouse inherits property during the marriage, but conveys part or all of that property, they may commute or change the nature of the property from separate property to marital property.  Similarly, if one party brings property into the marriage and the other party either sustains or improves that property, the character of that property can also change.  Georgia courts even have latitude to consider the respective needs and contributions of the parties and make awards of alimony out of separate property.   This is especially relevant when parties both have legitimate claims to closely held businesses, which have often been their lives’ work. 

Calculating an Equitable Division of Marital Property

Once property is classified as marital property, the task of dividing it between spouses is also not an exact process.  Ultimately, the judge or jury must make an equitable division of the property.  However, equitable does not necessarily mean equal.  Although the division process is governed by equitable principles, the ultimate division of marital property is made according to what is determined to be fair given the totality of the circumstances. 

Hiring an Attorney

Property division can be a complex and contentious matter, and the results can have a long-lasting impact on your economic status.  Whether you are defending your right to preserve those assets you brought into a marriage, or you are fighting for a fair settlement that reflects your contributions to the marriage, you need a strong advocate by your side.  We have the experience and commitment to meet your needs and realize your objectives.   Contact The Zdrilich Law Group today for a consultation or fill out our online form now for a consultation.