- by Mary Montgomery
- in Divorce
The breakup of a marriage is never easy, and negotiations over how to divide property and assets you have accumulated together as a couple can be particularly contentious. The court aims to distribute houses, personal property, and financial accounts in a way that is fair and reasonable to both parties, but it is not uncommon for one of the spouses to behave spitefully or feel that they would rather give away and even destroy assets rather than see them in their former partner's possession. In Georgia divorce proceedings, this is known as dissipation of marital assets, and it is important to act quickly to protect property that is rightfully yours.
Divorce Division of Assets
Under Georgia divorce laws, assets to be divided are those earned or acquired from the date of the marriage up until the date of your divorce. Marital assets in divorce may include any of the following:
- Land and real estate;
- Home furnishings and antiques;
- Cars, sports, and recreational equipment;
- Hobbies and collectible items;
- Financial accounts, including stocks, bonds, and term life insurance policies;
- Employee benefits, such as life insurance plans, pensions, 401k and other retirement accounts;
- Business assets, including intellectual property, inventory, and office supplies.
In some circumstances, one of the spouses may accuse the other of concealing, giving away, or destroying marital assets, either during the marriage, while the couple is separated, or when the divorce is filed. This is known as dissipation of marital assets, and you may be entitled to an additional share in your property settlement if you can prove it occurred.
Dissipation of Marital Assets
The Journal of American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers advises that to prove dissipation, you generally must show that your spouse intentionally used or squandered the property for their own benefit, either in anticipation of divorce or during a time when the marriage was otherwise in jeopardy. Common ways in which dissipation of marital assets occurs include:
- Losing money or property to gambling;
- Spending or giving away assets to another in an extramarital affair;
- Failing to preserve assets, such as not making mortgage payments that result in foreclosure;
- Alcohol and drug-related expenditures;
- Giving or transferring assets into the name of a family member or friend.
Once your divorce documents are filed, your spouse is prohibited from transferring ownership of any property or assets until the divorce becomes final. If you and your spouse are currently separated, yet are not at the point of divorce, your attorney can help you protect property and assets prior to filing by requesting an Order for Separate Maintenance and Support .
Reach Out to Us Today for Help
If you are going through a separation or contemplating a divorce, contact Stearns-Montgomery & Proctor right away. Our Georgia divorce attorneys can advise you on the best course of action in your situation, while acting as a strong legal advocate to ensure your rights are protected.