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Considerations on property division during divorce

Jeff Landers, a contributing writer to Forbes magazine who frequently focuses upon financially complex divorces from a woman's perspective, has a few points to pass along concerning a divorce-related aspect that often takes center stage.

Namely, that is property division. In some dissolutions, the division of assets is truly no big deal and far from being a sticking point that produces material acrimony and distrust during divorce proceedings.

In other instances, seemingly everything is about who gets what, in what quantity and why.

In such cases, that doesn't necessarily mean that things have become hot and contested. Rather, some divorces simply feature assets that are diverse and complex. Property can include stocks, retirement vehicles and pensions, one or more homes, various vehicles, jewelry, an art collection, inheritances and more.

Further, it can be muddied somewhat by less than clear distinctions between what is marital property -- assets obtained during a marriage and considered to be owned by both spouses -- and what serves as an exception, such as personal gifts to one of the spouses.

In Georgia, where the law mandates an equitable distribution of assets (which is not necessarily a 50/50 split), an experienced divorce attorney can help a client focus on relevant property division factors, such as marital duration, any assets owned separately, future financial needs, earning potential, and whether a marital contract --that is, a premarital agreement or postmarital contract -- exists.

Landers strongly recommends a proven divorce team to render advice and handle the legal aspects of property division.

He also says that, for many couples, marital contracts are highly advised, noting that "the best offense is a good defense."

And he advises any divorcing person with asset-related concerns to "think financially, not emotionally," while conceding how hard that can sometimes be.

Source: Forbes, "How to handle difficult-to-divide assets," Jeff Landers, Sept. 18, 2012

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