Whether you have a blissful union or you and your spouse recently decided to part ways, it may help you to understand Georgia’s property division laws. Property division laws typically abide by two traditional legal theories: community property and equitable distribution.
Georgia, like most states, does not recognize community property laws. Rather, according to FindLaw, Georgia is an equitable distribution state.
Community property vs. equitable distribution
In community property states, the courts divide all marital property equally among the spouses, regardless of who purchased it or what a spouse’s role was in the marriage. In equitable distribution states, however, the courts attempt to divide marital property equitably or fairly. To determine what is fair, the courts will consider several factors.
Factors that may affect property division
To ensure the most equitable distribution of property between spouses, the courts will consider several factors. A few of the most influential factors are as follows:
- The extent of the separate property versus the marital property
- Each spouse’s financial status
- Whether there is evidence of misconduct by either spouse that resulted in the waste of assets
- Each spouse’s behavior while the divorce proceeds
- The future needs of each spouse
Though the courts will attempt to distribute property in the fairest way possible, they may consider the grounds for divorce. For instance, if one spouse committed adultery, the judge may award the other spouse a larger settlement as punishment and/or restitution.
Understanding property division laws can benefit you regardless of the state of your marriage. By knowing Georgia’s laws, you can take steps to protect yourself and your assets long before the need to divide property arises.