Frequently Asked Questions About Georgia Divorce
The knowledgeable Henry County divorce attorneys at Meadows, Macie & Sutton, P.C. handle a wide range of family law and divorce legal matters, and we are ready to answer your questions. We want to be the law firm for the important legal matters that affect your life and business. Click on any of the links below for the information you need.
- I have been divorced for a while and would like to change some of the provisions in the divorce decree. If my ex and I agree, would the changes be valid?
- What factors does the court consider to divide marital property?
- Am I entitled to part of my spouse’s business?
- If my spouse and I cannot agree on the division of certain household items, will we have to litigate the division?
- Are my employment benefits and frequent flyer miles considered marital property?
- What happens to a couple’s property when they divorce, remarry, and then divorce again?
- Will I be entitled to part of the stock given to my spouse as a gift during our marriage?
- If we divorce, will I receive credit for the down payment I made on our house?
- How will my savings account be divided during our divorce proceedings?
- Is my spouse entitled to any of my accident settlement if we divorce?
- Can I argue that my spouse earned some of the income from our small business?
- Will I be responsible for my spouse’s school loans?
- Can property acquired prior to marriage be divided upon divorce?
- Can I appeal a property division court ruling?
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I have been divorced for a while and would like to change some of the provisions in the divorce decree. If my ex and I agree, would the changes be valid? After your divorce, you might find it necessary or desirable to modify one or more of the stipulations in your divorce decree or custody and support arrangements. You must follow proper procedure if you want that modification or set of modifications to be valid. In most circumstances, even when ex-spouses agree to modify a prior agreement or court order, a court order is required to validate a subsequent agreement. An experienced family law attorney can work with you to ensure your desired changes are valid.
Georgia courts consider the following criteria in property division:
- Length of the marriage
- Either person’s prior marriage(s)
- Each person’s age, health, station, income, vocational skills, employability, estates, liabilities, and needs
- Contribution by one spouse to the education, training, or increased earning power of the other spouse
- Opportunity to acquire future income and assets
- Sources of income, including medical, retirement, insurance, and other benefits
- Services rendered as a parent, wage earner, or homemaker
- Value of each person’s property
- Standard of living established during the marriage
- Tax consequences of the distribution
- Custodial parent designation
Generally, an asset such as a business that a spouse owns prior to marriage is considered ”separate property” and would be owned by the spouse who started the business. But if the business has appreciated during the marriage, through either party’s efforts, the appreciation value may be considered marital property.
The presence of a business can really complicate property division. If you are involved in such a divorce, it might be best to consult an attorney.
If my spouse and I cannot agree on the division of certain household items, will we have to litigate the division?
Most judges and lawyers try to prevent people from litigating the division of household items, because it often will cost more money in legal fees to fight over those items than it would to buy new ones. But if you and your ex-spouse cannot agree, it is likely you will need to seek legal help, because your property settlement will not be complete until these items are divided. The judge may divide them in a manner neither you nor your spouse like.
In most cases, the benefits you have accumulated through your employment during the time you were married are subject to division in a divorce. Your spouse may be entitled to an equitable division of the marital value of your pension and 401(k) from the date of divorce. The same may also be true for your frequent flyer miles.
Generally, when a couple divorces, the property that each is awarded becomes and remains the separate property of the spouse to whom it is originally awarded. If the couple remarries, under certain circumstances the property may become marital property subject to equitable division.
If the stock is transferred to your spouse as part of the compensation for working for a company, you may be entitled to a portion of the stock when dividing your property. If the stock is received as a gift, it may be separate property on how the stock is treated after it is received.
Generally, an asset that a spouse owned prior to marriage is considered the separate property of that spouse, so long as its value has not increased as a result of either spouse’s efforts or it has not been combined with marital property to the point where you cannot tell what is separate and what is marital. Separate property is excluded from division in a divorce, and the spouse with the separate property keeps that property. The equity created in your home by your down payment would probably be your separate property and you would be entitled to at least the amount of the down payment and possibly the interest on your down payment based on the overall appreciation of the house.
Generally, a spouse’s separate property owned before marriage remains that person’s property after a divorce, as long as it isn’t combined with marital property and becomes untraceable or you add your spouse’s name to the account. This is known as ”commingling.” Any money put into the account during the marriage will most likely be considered marital property. As long as you can properly identify the funds and trace their movement back and forth through the account, they should remain separate property that will be returned to you at the time of a divorce, rather than be divided as marital property. This can be very difficult where the accounts are subject to withdrawals, or where money is withdrawn to pay expenses. The question then becomes ”Which money was withdrawn?” If that cannot be determined, the account may become marital property. In general, it is usually best to keep separate property separate, rather than counting on it being returned upon divorce.
In general, payment for pain and suffering resulting from an injury is the separate property of the injured spouse. However, the portion of the payment that makes up for lost earnings and expenses resulting from the accident may be considered a marital asset that may be divided between you and your spouse in a divorce. It’s best to keep your personal injury settlement money separate from other money that might be considered marital property.
Courts will review this type of situation on a case-by-case basis. Commonly, when a married couple has a small business that both help operate, but the couple’s joint tax return shows that the wife earned no income as a ”homemaker,” all of the income from the business will be attributed to the husband for support purposes.
Generally, a court will divide marital debt ”equitably,” in the same way marital assets are divided. If the school loans were made during the marriage and you both benefited from them, that is, some of the loan money was used to buy food or pay rent, you may have to repay some of the loans.
Generally, assets owned by either spouse prior to the marriage will remain that spouse’s separate property after the marriage ends, and won’t be distributed by a court as marital property.
All states have a ”statute of limitations,” a period of time after the finalization of the divorce in which a party may file a notice of appeal. The time limit can often be fairly short. After that, any chance of opening the judgment depends on the facts of the judgment, and state law.