Equitable Division of Marital Property

The state of Georgia recognizes that each marriage partner has an equitable interest in all marital property acquired during the course of the marriage. Unlike states with community property laws, however, this equitable interest does not appear until a divorce is filed. The existence of this potential claim does not impair the transfer of property during marriage by either party.

The first step is to determine what property held by the parties is actually marital property. There are several forms of property owned by the parties to a divorce:

  • Separate property of one spouse owned before the marriage
  • Separate property of one spouse acquired during the marriage
  • Separate property of one spouse, which is a replacement, or substitute for property owned before the marriage.
  • Appreciation in value of the separate property
  • Increased value of separate property which is caused by active involvement of either spouse during the marriage, and subject to marital property claims
  • Jointly owned marital property
  • Marital property titled in only one spouse’s name, but subject to marital property claims

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Georgia’s New Income Shares Child Support Guidelines

The new Georgia child support guidelines become effective January 1, 2007, and apply to all pending civil actions on or after January 1, 2007. Under the new guidelines, there are several steps that are used to arrive at a child support obligation. First, the gross income of both the mother and the father is determined. This income includes amounts from all non-exempt sources and includes: salary, wages, commissions, self-employed income, bonuses, overtime pay, severance pay, pension and retirement income, interest income, dividend income, trust income annuity income, capital gains, Social Security disability payments, worker’s compensation benefits, unemployment benefits, judgments from personal injury claims or other civil cases, gifts, prizes, alimony from persons not in the subject case, assets which are used for support of family, fringe benefits that significantly reduce living expenses, and any other income including imputed income. Variable income such as commissions or bonuses must be averaged over a reasonable period of time.

After the gross income of both the mother and father is determined, the income may be adjusted in three ways. If there is self-employed income, there is a reduction for one-half of the self-employment taxes being paid. Secondly, if either parent is paying child support under a preexisting child support order, the monthly gross income of such parent is reduced by the amount of monthly support such parent has been actually paying. Finally, if either parent is supporting his or her own children living in the home, but who are not the subject of this child support determination, the court in its discretion may reduce the gross income after calculating a theoretical child support order. This final adjustment will be difficult to obtain since the court must find the failure to do so would cause a financial hardship on the parent and that such adjustment is in the best interest of the child in the case at hand.

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