Property division in Georgia divorces

When people go through a divorce, one of the many questions they often ask is how the court determines which spouse receives which of the couple's belongings. Those considering divorce in Georgia should understand how Georgia courts make property division decisions.

Equitable division of marital property

Georgia is an equitable marital property division state. The law recognizes that each spouse has an interest in the property the couple has amassed during the marriage. As such, the court will divide marital property equitably when couples divorce. Equitable is not always the same as equal, so a property settlement may not result in a 50-50 split the way it does in community property states.

Property is everything that a couple owns that has value, including real estate, vehicles, banking and investment accounts, retirement plans, art, jewelry and other such items. The first thing that the court must do is determine what property is marital and what property is personal to each spouse. Non-marital property includes property that each spouse possessed prior to the marriage, as well as non-commingled inheritances or gifts that the spouse received during the marriage. Marital property is everything that either spouse obtains during the marriage, no matter whose name is on the title. Gifts between spouses are also included in martial property, if the spouses used marital funds to purchase the gifts.

Determining whether property is marital can be complex. In some cases, spouses will use marital funds to improve non-marital property, such as when a spouse owns a home prior to marriage but uses martial funds to remodel the home several years after the marriage.

Property division factors

In trying to decide the fairest way to divide property between divorcing spouses, Georgia law directs judges to consider several factors, including:

  • The standard of living that the couple maintained during the marriage
  • Each spouse's earning capacity
  • Each spouse's current income
  • The vocational skills and training of each spouse
  • Whether the property division needs to include provisions for care for minor children
  • Each spouse's age and health
  • Each spouse's assets, debts and other liabilities
  • Each spouse's needs
  • The extent to which each spouse contributed to acquiring marital property
  • The extent to which each spouse increased the value of existing marital property
  • Whether either spouse dissipated marital assets

Talk to a lawyer

Making the decision to divorce is rarely easy. Divorce can be confusing and overwhelming, and many worry about protecting themselves and their finances during the process. If you are facing divorce, speak with an experienced Georgia divorce attorney with the knowledge to educate you about your options and the skills to protect your assets.