Georgia is an equitable distribution state, which means that if a judge is required to make a decision on how marital property will be split, the judge must divide the property “fairly.” Divorcing spouses can also reach a settlement on their own regarding the division of their property and assets. In order to reach a settlement or for a judge to enter an order, spouses need to know the value of their marital assets and debts. They also need to identify which assets are marital and which are separate, which can be a challenge if assets get co-mingled, such as in a bank account.
To help professionals ascertain a marital property’s value, individuals should compile all documents relating to the property, such as initial purchase documents, mortgage payments made and the outstanding mortgage. Individuals also need to determine the value of assets that were paid for with both marital and separate assets, such as a car that one spouse has been paying off for years. Spouses will also need to show who legally owns each asset, which means that they should bring things like title and registration documents to a meeting with an attorney.
Spouses going through a divorce should also be prepared to share their income tax returns and bank statements with each other, even if they filed their returns separately or if the accounts are not shared. Other documents reflecting income, like pay stubs or business financial statements, will also be relevant.
There are documents that a spouse may want to revise even before a divorce is finalized, such as documents naming a spouse as a beneficiary to an insurance policy. A divorce attorney will also ask for documents reflecting debt incurred during the marriage, such as credit card statements or medical bills, since a person’s spouse could be partially responsible for those debts.