Even though U.S. Census Bureau statistics show a decline in the national divorce rate in the decade between 2009 and 2019, this is partially due to a correlating decrease in the marriage rate or millennials choosing to delay legal unions. Divorces continue to occur.
According to the New York Times, divorces and breakups, in general, saw an uptick in 2021. Gray divorces also continued to rise in frequency, even among high-profile individuals as seen by the case of Bill and Melinda Gates. Property division is understandably a common concern among separating couples.
1. The distinction between separate and marital property
Georgia is an equitable distribution state, meaning it divides property based on fairness rather than equality. A solid 50-50 split is not a guarantee. However, courts only split possessions counted as marital property, usually defined as any acquired after marriage. Property owned by either party before the union is separate property and not subject to division. There are cases where separate property may become marital property. A third-party gift intended specifically for one spouse is separate property but inter-spousal ones are marital.
2. Asset concealment is a real danger
Your spouse may try to hide assets in several ways, including cryptocurrency, hidden accounts and tax fraud. This may affect property division. A forensic accountant may be able to help prevent this by identifying any hidden assets.
3. Infidelity may impact distribution
In cases of adultery, judges may decide to award a larger portion of marital property to the wronged party. This often occurs when the offending spouse used shared marital funds to support (purchasing gifts, paying for dates and trips, etc.) the affair.
Other factors may complicate the process of property division in Georgia. Mediation or collaborative divorce are options for reducing conflict.