Divorcing Couples Should Know Property Division Responsibilities

Many complex situations and decisions may arise when a couple gets divorced. One such decision is the dividing of property between the parties. The distribution is based on the laws of the state, the classification of the property and the marriage itself, among other factors.

A recent divorce case highlights the intricacies often involved with property division pursuant to a divorce. The couple divorced two years ago and they decided that the wife would keep the house that they lived in, since she could handle the mortgage payments. When the man attempted to purchase another residence, he discovered that he was still listed on the mortgage for the marital home, even though he deeded the title to his ex-wife and the divorce agreement stated that he was not liable for the home. The man was told that in order to be officially removed from the mortgage, his ex-wife would have to apply for a new loan for the home in her name.

There are two legal methods for distributing property in the event of a divorce. Some states apply community property, in which each respective party keeps separate property and community property is distributed evenly. A majority of states, including Georgia, apply equitable distribution instead. Under this method, property is distributed based on what is fair under the circumstances, which may not necessarily be evenly.

In terms of which party should receive the marital home, neither party is more legally entitled to it than the other. When kids are involved, the spouse that cares for them more may be granted the home. When kids are not involved, either party may request the home and the couple can agree on the terms. If they cannot agree, the court can determine which party receives the home based on the unique circumstances of their case.

Regardless of which party is granted the home, the case above highlights the point that all necessary paperwork and arrangements should be taken care of to fulfill the terms of the divorce agreement and property distribution terms. Anyone going through a divorce can seek the counsel of an experienced family law attorney to assist them in such matters.

Source: Reuters, "Splitsville? How to divide property in a divorce," Geoff Williams, Oct. 7, 2013

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