Discussions over property division often become heated during a divorce, and it is not uncommon for spouses to accept terms that they find unsatisfactory just to put an end to them. This can be a mistake that casts a very long shadow. Our team of Atlanta-based property division lawyers fights to ensure you get a fair division of assets in your divorce.
Atlanta Property Division Lawyers
Many people believe that marital property is always divided equally in a divorce, but this only happens in states with community property laws. Georgia and most other states have equitable-distribution laws that require marital assets to be divided fairly but not equally. This gives judges far more discretion, and it ensures divorce outcomes are basically fair. When judges are asked to make these decisions because negotiations have failed, they consider many factors. These factors include:
- The length of the marriage
- The circumstances that led to the divorce
- The age and health of the spouses
- The value of the marital assets involved
- The financial and non-financial contributions each spouse made during the marriage
- How much each spouse earns and the sources of their incomes
- The economic needs of each spouse
It is not necessary to prove adultery or abuse to obtain a divorce in Georgia but doing so could lead to a more advantageous property division settlement. Abusive or cheating spouses may be reluctant to have their behavior made public in court, and judges may take a dim view of their actions if they are. Therefore, it would be unwise to enter divorce negotiations without an Atlanta property division lawyer if you were mistreated during your marriage or think allegations of abuse may be leveled against you.
Before property negotiations begin, the marital estate must be defined as only assets acquired and liabilities taken on during a marriage are divided in a divorce. Assets that are considered separate and not subject to division include assets either spouse owned before the marriage and gifts or inheritances they received during the marriage. Personal injury awards received during a marriage are also considered separate property in Georgia. These rules may seem fairly straightforward but determining what is and what is not a marital asset or liability can be a very thorny issue. This is especially true when:
- Assets have become comingled: Commingling occurs when separate assets become interwoven with marital assets. This could happen if marital funds were used to maintain or improve a separate asset like a house or a gift or inheritance was placed in a joint bank account.
- A business is involved: Businesses that predate a marriage could be subject to division if they increased in value significantly during the marriage. This is particularly true if both spouses contributed to the growth and success.
Dividing property in a divorce can become a complex process. That’s why it is crucial that you don’t go at it without help from an Atlanta property division lawyer.
The equitable distribution law in Georgia also requires marital debts to be divided fairly in a divorce. Obligations like mortgages and car loans may be easy to contend with, but situations become more complex when debts like student loans that benefit only one spouse were taken on. You should also understand that lenders are not bound by the terms of divorce settlements, which means they could pursue you for payment of a debt that you thought you were no longer responsible for. The Atlanta property division lawyers at the Bell & Washington Law Firm could recommend refinancing mortgages or taking out new loans to avoid this issue.
Contact an Experienced Property Division Lawyer in Atlanta, Georgia
The Atlanta property division lawyers at Bell & Washington have conducted hundreds of divorce negotiations and have the sensitivity and expertise necessary to help successfully guide you through the property division process. They also know how to find assets that are being concealed and discover hidden sources of income. If you are thinking about getting a divorce, you should prepare for property division talks by consulting with an experienced property division lawyer. We make this easy by offering prospective clients a free consultation. To schedule one, you can call our office at 404.437.6641 or use our online contact form. We’ll be glad to talk to you!