As a general rule, Georgia law considers marital property to be any property obtained by either spouse during the marriage. Marital property therefore can be divided between the spouses during a divorce. Separate property, on the other hand, is usually property that one spouse acquired prior to the marriage. While this distinction seems to be relatively straightforward, it is not always as simple as it might seem to determine whether certain property is marital property or separate property.
For instance, inherited property, such as a family business, may be separate property under Georgia law, even if one spouse inherited the property during the parties’ marriage. However, all or a portion of an inherited business also may be marital property, depending on the circumstances. This situation becomes even more complicated if the spouse who did not inherit the business later contributes to the value of the business in some way during the marriage. Suppose that the non-inheriting spouse worked for the business for a number of years with little or no compensation, used her skills to improve the value of the business, or contributed to the business financially in some way. If this is the case, then she may be entitled to a portion of the business’s value as marital property for division in the parties’ divorce. As you can see, the classification and potential division of property in a divorce can be quite complex.
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Scott Shaw is founder and principle of Shaw Law Firm PC, founded in 1995 and dedicated solely to divorce, family law and child custody matters that must be addressed and decided in the state of Georgia. Shaw Law Firm serves the greater Metro Atlanta area, particularly the counties of Fulton, DeKalb, Gwinnett, Cobb, Cherokee, Forsyth, Paulding, Henry, Fayette, Coweta, Newton, Walton, Bartow and Douglas. Schedule a consultation today at 770-594-8309.