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High Asset Divorce in Georgia

by Sharon Jackson  on January 30, 2024 under 

A high asset divorce refers to the dissolution of a marriage involving assets of considerable monetary value. These assets may consist of cash, real properties, businesses, investment and retirement accounts, numismatic collectibles, and other valuable possessions.

When substantial property is involved, each party in the divorce will want to protect their interests in property division, spousal support, child custody, and child support. They must also consider implications on taxes and estate planning.

In addition, high-net-worth divorces can get contentious. When divorcing couples have considerable wealth, whether as shared property or owned individually, the process often escalates into a contested divorce. Strong disagreements arise, delaying the legal proceedings to determine an equitable distribution of these possessions.

What qualifies as a high-asset divorce?

Whether a divorce is classified as high-asset depends heavily on the importance and diverse range of assets acquired by both spouses in the course of their marriage.

Suppose you and your spouse have accumulated valuable assets such as multiple properties, bonds, stocks, luxury vehicles, and business ventures. In that case, your divorce falls under the category of high-asset divorce.

Definitions of “high-asset” divorce vary, but generally, when one or both spouses have a net worth of over $1 million, their divorce may be treated as high-asset.

How are high value assets split in a divorce in Georgia?

Unlike community property states in the US, Georgia follows the “equitable distribution” framework. In community property states, each spouse is automatically entitled to half of the shared property. However, in Georgia, when a couple chooses to separate, the division of assets must be equitable or fair to each spouse. This is not always a 50/50 split.

In a Georgia divorce, assets obtained before the marriage (known as separate property) are typically kept by their original owner. Conversely, assets acquired during the marriage (referred to as marital property) are divisible based on the principle of equitable distribution. This implies that the property is shared between the spouses in a manner that is considered fair and equitable.

To ensure a fair division of property, Georgia family court judges carefully assess a range of factors. These include but are not limited to:

  • Length of the marriage
  • Earnings of both parties
  • Any form of alimony granted to either party
  • Assets acquired before the marriage
  • Future financial requirements of each individual
  • Outstanding debts of both individuals
  • Financial and non-financial contributions made by each spouse during their marriage.

Ideally, the divorcing couple or their respective legal representatives should seek an amicable agreement. However, in cases where property division becomes contentious, the divorce court will step in and make necessary decisions for the parties involved.

How do I protect my assets in a divorce in Georgia?

Protecting your assets during a divorce in Georgia can be a complicated and intense undertaking. Depending on the status of your marriage, there may be possible measures you can take to safeguard specific assets. It is generally advisable to initiate these measures well in advance of filing for divorce to ensure their effectiveness:

Have a well-documented inventory of all the pertinent assets.

The initial step towards safeguarding your assets throughout the divorce procedure is to ensure you have a comprehensive inventory of all the assets involved.

Work with an experienced divorce attorney and a financial advisor.

With your attorney, create a detailed list that includes banking and credit card accounts, retirement and investment accounts, real estate properties, and any other notable assets. Additionally, it is essential to ascertain the value of each asset, which might call for the assistance of a reputable third-party financial advisor.

You’ll need to establish whether the assets were obtained before or during your marriage. This will enable your attorney to determine the approach towards dividing the assets.

Bear in mind that property disagreements can prolong the divorce proceedings and result in higher legal expenses. Hence, both parties must strive for mutual understanding and reach common ground on as many aspects of asset division as possible. Supporting your standpoint with the relevant documents can be an effective means of resolving the dispute, provided the opposing party remains reasonable.

After gaining a thorough understanding of your financial circumstances, arrange a meeting with a financial advisor or tax expert to deliberate on the tax consequences of your divorce and settlement. While your divorce attorney will be your guide and advocate throughout divorce, your financial advisor can also help safeguard your savings and minimize adverse tax outcomes.

Additional Recommendations

Below are some added recommendations to ensure asset protection in a divorce case in Georgia:

Consider a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement.

A prenuptial agreement, also known as a prenup, is a legally enforceable contract drafted before marriage. Its purpose is to outline the division of assets and debts in the event of a divorce. Similarly, a postnuptial agreement serves the same purpose but is entered into after the marriage has already taken place. These agreements play a crucial role in safeguarding your separate property and providing clarity regarding your financial entitlements.

Maintain transparency with your spouse.

While it is not necessary to divulge every intricate financial detail, it is crucial to be open and forthcoming about your assets and debts with your spouse. This practice can prevent conflicts and promote a smoother divorce process.

Be ready to negotiate.

In the majority of divorce cases, spouses can settle through negotiation. Prepare yourself to make acceptable compromises to establish a fair agreement between you and your spouse.

Avoid hiding assets.

Attempting to hide your assets from your spouse is ill-advised. Discovery of such actions can lead to serious consequences, including substantial financial penalties and potential incarceration.

Safeguard your joint accounts.

Take the necessary steps to freeze your joint accounts, which will effectively prevent your spouse from making any withdrawals.

Secure your assets through a trust.

Consider establishing a trust, a legally binding arrangement to hold your assets in your best interest. Assets placed within this trust before marriage are generally regarded as separate property, thereby exempt from division in case of a divorce.

Refrain from significant purchases or gifts.

Making substantial purchases or gifting of assets during the divorce process may lead to the perception that you are attempting to conceal assets from your spouse. This notion can negatively impact your side of the divorce.

Please note that each divorce case is unique, requiring a customized approach to safeguard your assets. To ensure the protection of your interests, seek advice from a knowledgeable divorce attorney who can guide you towards the most appropriate course of action based on your specific circumstances.

Contact an Experienced Gwinnett County High Asset Divorce Attorney

For top-notch legal assistance in high-asset divorce cases in Gwinnett County, Georgia, please don't hesitate to reach out to Attorney Sharon Jackson, LLC. You can arrange a private consultation with our experienced lawyer by calling (678) 909-4100 today.


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