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Georgia divorce rules mandate equitable property distribution

In Georgia, property acquired during the marriage by either party is subject to what is called equitable property distribution. This means that the court will look at a statutorily specified list of factors and determine how to divide the property between the spouses. Thus, the process of property division in divorce in Georgia does not contemplate simply dividing everything equally down the middle.

One exception to the foregoing is that each spouse is allowed the right to retain his or her separate property owned prior to the marriage. However, any increase in value of the separate property during the marriage is subject to equitable property division. These rules are slightly different in a community property state, such as the one in which Jennifer Garner and Ben Affleck have lived in for 10 years as husband and wife.

That state would be California, and the rule there is that all property acquired during the marriage is community property that is owned by husband and wife equally. It does not matter how long the marriage lasted; and, equitable considerations that would apply in Georgia and other states do not change the 50-50 community property division. This includes income, royalties, savings and any property purchased during the marriage, no matter if titled in only one party's name.

With respect to spousal support, the length of the marriage counts, and in the Garner-Affleck marriage, 10 years is considered a lengthy time, which could affect the granting of spousal support or alimony where it is needed. In Georgia and other states, if one of the parties made significantly less than the other, he or she could ask for long-term support and/or alimony, particularly in the case of a long marriage. If that becomes an issue in this celebrity divorce, the parties would first engage in discovery regarding the extent of each one's income, savings and earning capacity prior to the court decision. In this particular situation, however, the parties profess to a friendly parting – with Affleck reportedly living in a separate building on the former marital residence for purposes of joint parenting of their three minor children.

Source: eonline.com, "What Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner's Divorce Means for Their Money: Lawyer Weighs in on What's at Stake", Brett Malec and Senta Scarborough, July 1, 2015

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