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Division of property and debt — what you need to know when divorcing

On Behalf of | May 26, 2021 | Divorce

Change in anyone’s life is likely to be jarring, and things are no different when it comes to divorce.

Property division and child custody are two of the primary issues that divorcing spouses worry about. One of the first questions that husbands or wives tend to ask their attorneys is if they’re going to lose half of everything they own.

Georgia is an equitable distribution state. This doctrine dictates that judges should divide up a married couple’s assets and debts based on what’s fair.

How do Georgia judges divide assets in a divorce?

One of the first steps that your attorney or a judge will have you do when you file for divorce is document your separate and marital assets.

You’ll generally be able to keep any separate assets you had coming into the marriage, as well as gifts, inheritances and items covered by a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement. The only exception to this rule is if you commingled or shared those assets with your spouse. Your husband or wife can stake a claim to them.

Your attorney or the court will also have you inventory joint assets, which are those that you acquired during the marriage. A judge will ultimately divide these between you in an equitable way if you can’t broker an agreement yourselves.

What happens with debts in a Georgia divorce?

Liabilities work much like assets in that you might have some debts that you incurred before your marriage and other ones that you amassed during it. A judge will still divide any joint debts fairly. They’ll weigh various factors when deciding what’s fair: for example, student loans.

If you left your career to relocate so your spouse could pursue higher education, then a judge may ask how your spouse used their loans. The court might hold your ex solely accountable for the debt if they used it to pay their tuition and textbooks. The court may expect you both to pay if your spouse used some of the loan funds to pay your household expenses.

Asset and debt distribution may be negotiable

The term “fair” that legal analysts use to describe the division of assets and debts in a divorce means that it’s open to negotiation. An attorney can help you negotiate with your ex or craft a convincing argument for a judge as to why assets division should go one way or another.

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