As you move toward divorce, you may think that everything you own is owned equally by both you and your spouse. However, that’s an incorrect assumption in Georgia, which is not a community property state. While you may have an equal claim to some — but not necessarily all — of your marital property, you may also own separate property that still belongs to just one person.
A common example of separate property is something you bought before the two of you got married. Maybe you bought the family home five years before the wedding and you lived there alone while dating your future spouse. He or she moved in after the wedding. Even if you both think of it as your home now, it may count as separate property.
This can become complex, however. What if your spouse helped pay the mortgage before and/or after the wedding? Do they now have a claim to a portion of the home’s value? What if the house appreciated in value due to market rates? Does your spouse have some entitlement there?
Another common example is an inheritance that is left directly to you. If the money goes to you and your spouse as a couple, it may count as marital property. If your parents leave it to you alone, then it may be separate property that you can opt to share with your spouse or not.
Of course, assets can also get commingled in other ways. If you put the money into a joint bank account and use it to pay the bills, your spouse may now have a claim. Again, these are complex divorce cases and you should know all of your legal options as you make decisions.