The divorce process can be intricate and emotionally exhausting. Many legal and financial matters must be addressed when a marriage ends, including the distribution of assets and debts, alimony, and child custody. This is especially true in Georgia, considered an “equitable distribution” state when dividing marital property during divorce.
So, what exactly is a wife entitled to in a divorce in Georgia? What assets might she have a claim on? Can she get alimony or the family home? This article will examine Georgia divorce laws and provide an overview of what a wife is typically entitled to in a divorce settlement.
Understanding Divorce Law in Georgia
Georgia divorce law states that marital property, which includes assets acquired during the marriage, will be divided equitably between the spouses. This is known as equitable distribution. The court examines various factors to determine a fair allocation of marital property. These factors include:
- The duration of the marriage
- Age and health of the spouses
- Income and earnings potential of each spouse
- Separate property owned by each spouse before the marriage
- Contribution of each spouse to the marriage, including homemaking and childcare
- Standard of living established during the marriage
Marital property is generally defined as any asset acquired during the marriage, such as the marital home, retirement accounts, investments, vehicles, and personal property. Separate property owned by one spouse before the marriage is not considered marital property. Nevertheless, any growth in the worth of separate property throughout the marriage might be regarded as marital. You should reach out to an experienced divorce attorney for help navigating a divorce settlement.
The court has wide discretion in equitably dividing marital property between the spouses. The distribution does not need to be equal but must be fair based on the circumstances.
Is a Wife Entitled to Alimony in Georgia?
In addition to a share of marital property, a wife may be entitled to alimony in Georgia. The purpose of alimony is to provide financial support to an economically disadvantaged spouse after divorce. There are several types of alimony in Georgia:
- Temporary Alimony – Short-term support ordered during the divorce process. Temporary alimony helps provide for living expenses while the divorce is pending.
- Permanent Alimony – Ongoing support indefinitely, usually until the receiving spouse remarries or either spouse passes away. Permanent alimony is intended to maintain the standard of living established during marriage.
- Rehabilitative Alimony – Time-limited alimony awarded for a specific purpose, such as assisting a spouse in getting an education or training for re-entry into the workforce.
- Lump Sum Alimony – A one-time alimony payment rather than monthly payments.
To receive alimony in Georgia, the spouse must demonstrate financial need. Other factors considered are the spouses’ earning capacity, age, health, education, and standard of living established during marriage. Alimony is decided on a case-by-case basis. There are no formulas or guarantees when it comes to receiving alimony.
Can a Wife Get the House in a Georgia Divorce?
The marital home is often one of the most valuable marital assets. The house will be classified as separate or marital property in Georgia. A house owned by one spouse before marriage is considered separate property. However, a home purchased during the marriage will likely be deemed marital property subject to equitable division.
There are a few scenarios that frequently come up with the marital home:
- If the house has comparable equity, the spouses may sell the home and split the proceeds.
- One spouse may be awarded the house if they have primary custody of children. This allows the children to remain in the family home.
- If one spouse cannot afford to maintain the home alone, the house may need to be sold.
- The higher-earning spouse must sometimes buy out the other spouse’s interest in the home as part of the divorce settlement.
Ultimately, there is no guarantee that a wife will be awarded the marital home. The court will seek to divide it fairly based on the situation. Wives who wish to remain in the home should be prepared to buy out their spouse’s share.
How Is Child Custody Determined in a Georgia Divorce?
Child custody is often a highly contested matter in divorce. Georgia family courts determine custody based on the best interests of the child. Unlike property division, custody is not based on consideration of marital misconduct. The court will evaluate factors like the child’s preference, relationship with each parent, and which parent has historically been the primary caregiver.
Georgia recognizes joint legal custody, where both parents have a voice in major child welfare decisions. Georgia prefers that children maintain frequent contact with both parents for physical custody. This leads many couples to seek shared joint physical custody arrangements. However, one parent may be awarded sole physical custody if deemed in the child’s best interests.
For more contentious divorces, a custody evaluation may be ordered to provide recommendations to the court. But in most cases, parents can reach a joint custody agreement through mediation if both parties are willing to cooperate and compromise.
Should I Hire a Divorce Lawyer in Georgia?
Navigating the intricacies of property division, spousal support, and child custody can be extremely difficult without legal guidance. Hiring an experienced Georgia divorce attorney is highly recommended to protect your rights in the divorce process.
An attorney can:
- Advise you on what a fair settlement and award of marital property may look like in your case
- Negotiate with your spouse or their lawyer to reach a settlement agreement
- Ensure proper paperwork and procedures are followed throughout the divorce process
- Act as your legal advocate in court if you cannot settle outside of court.
Even if your divorce appears simple and amicable, consulting a knowledgeable family law attorney, like Edwards Family Law, is recommended to ensure spouses get what they are entitled to. They can review your situation, explain your rights, and help ensure your interests are protected. Though it adds an expense on top of the divorce costs, a lawyer’s services are extremely valuable.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Q. What options do we have if we can’t agree on how to split assets?
A: You can hire experienced divorce lawyers to negotiate an agreement or request the court make a decision on property division. Mediation is another option to try to reach a settlement.
Q. What happens to our house if my spouse and I can’t decide who gets it in our divorce?
A: The court will classify the home as separate or community property. It can order the house sold and proceeds divided if you are unable to reach an agreement.