Exercising Financial Safeguards in Property Division


How do we decide which parent gets primary custody of the children? How much child support will I be required to pay? Who gets the furniture? These are common questions Georgia residents and couples elsewhere ask when going through a divorce. What those questions don't account for are the financial realities of a divorce. For spouses in the divorce process, and even dating and married individuals, learning and employing financial safeguards in property division is important.

First, divorcing couples should consider getting some financial planning education. There are a variety of tax and investment adult education classes that are often offered at local high schools and community colleges. This allows individuals to be informed and prepared when speaking to financial advisors and divorce attorneys.

Second, couples contemplating divorce should update their insurance policies, retirement plans and wills. Many individuals choose their spouse as their designated beneficiary. Couples likely will want to change those designations in the event of divorce so that their assets instead go to their children or other beneficiaries. Divorcing spouses may also consider drafting a "final instructions" document. This isn't a will. Rather, it's a document that lists your assets. So it needs to be updated regularly. A will directs heirs on how to divide assets in a manner consistent with the wishes of an individual.

Couples in Georgia may come to their own agreement regarding their marital property or they can go to court. In our state, property division is determined based on equitable (fair) distribution. This means that rather than combining all of the couple's assets and dividing them equally, a judge will look at the couple's assets and determine how to fairly divide the marital property based on a number of considerations.

In a divorce, determining how to divide marital property may be challenging. However, working with an attorney to put protections such as those suggested above in place may make the property division decisions easier for a divorcing couple.

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