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How will a judge split your marital property in a Georgia divorce?

Although even the most complex divorces will be over within a few years, people can have a hard time seeing their future after the end of their marriage. Many people stay in unhappy marriages because they don’t know what to expect if they file for divorce.

For a handful of those contemplating divorce, there may be a marital agreement that already explained what will happen to their property. If you have signed a contract establishing rules for property division when you divorce, then that contract will likely determine what happens during your property division proceedings.

However, if you don’t currently have an agreement with your ex and believe you will likely end up in court, then it is important that you understand what rules determine how the courts divide property in a Georgia divorce.

Georgia is an equitable division state

Some people have heard that judges have to split your property 50/50 in a divorce. That form of property division uses the community property standard. Georgia law is different. Like many states, Georgia requires that judges divide your marital property equitably. Equitable is not a synonym for equal. What it means is fair or just.

The equitable distribution of your property requires that a judge learns about the circumstances of your marriage and your current economic situation. Your income, your custody arrangements for your kids and even the length of your marriage can influence the way that a judge decides to split your property and your debts.

What property is subject to division?

Most of your assets may be marital property under Georgia law. Your marital estate includes the property you acquire and the income you earn while married, as well as the debts that you accrue. Property that you owned before you got married is your separate property. Assets that you received as gifts or as inheritance may also be separate property for the purpose of divorce proceedings.

A judge will care more about the date of acquisition than the name on an account or on ownership paperwork. You may have to close bank accounts, divide retirement accounts and even sell your house to split your marital property depending on what the judge decides.

You can potentially take the guesswork out of property division if you and your ex can reach a settlement on your own. Mediation and collaborative negotiations could help those who would like to file an uncontested divorce but do not yet agree on how to divide their property. Learning the rules that apply in Georgia divorces can help you start to picture your life after the end of your marriage.