Equitable Distribution of Marital Assets: “Genius” is Not a Factor

If you’re a Georgia resident involved in a high-asset divorce proceeding, and your soon-to-be ex is trying to convince the judge that the bulk of the assets owe to his or her innate genius in acquiring them, you likely don’t have to worry unduly that you’ll be shut out by not having an equally lofty IQ.

Georgia judges, like those in the majority of other states, distribute property based on the law of equitable distribution, in which a number of factors are considered that evaluate not just one party’s ability to procure riches, but both parties’ overall contributions to the marriage.

That was recently demonstrated in the divorce litigation between prominent financier Henry R. Silverman and his wife. Silverman tried to convince a New York Supreme Court justice that multiple psychologists should be allowed to testify as to his “innate intellectual talents” and “unique personal traits,” which, together, constituted a type of intellectual property that allowed the couple to become rich during their 30-year marriage.

Silverman’s basic argument: The wealth owes to my genius alone, so I should get most of it.

The judge disagreed, refusing to allow the testimony and citing to the state’s equitable distribution law. Similarly to Georgia’s law, the relevant New York statute requires consideration of a variety of factors and grants ample discretion to the judge. Although conceding Silverman’s obvious business acumen, the judge also stated the need to consider his wife’s myriad contributions to the marriage and family.

In Georgia, factors that often come into play include the length of a marriage; the assets owned by each party separately; the future financial needs of both divorcing parties; the parties’ earning potential following divorce; and the extent of any financial dependency of one partner on the other.

An experienced lawyer with a proven record in high-asset divorce in Georgia can answer questions and provide diligent representation in a property division matter.

Related Resource: New York Times, “In Divorce Case, Judge Refuses to Hear Evidence of ‘Genius'” Aug. 4, 2011

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