Divorce is a complicated process, but perhaps nothing may be more confusing to those entering the process than asset division. In fact, every situation is unique and requires careful review to develop a proper understanding of what valuable assets may be included in the property to be split during the divorce.
Take, for example, a 401(k) or other retirement plan owned by one of the spouses. Many people may think that because an account or other perks like stock options are tied to a particular spouse’s work, it is not part of the marital estate and thus not included in property division. However, the truth is that property division here in Georgia tends to include most assets owned by the couple during marriage, and that can include such things as a 401(k) or other retirement plan.
Georgia law calls for equitable division of all marital assets, but the key is often distinguishing between marital property and separate property. Separate property tends to be limited to things like an inheritance that is not shared with the other spouse during marriage, or a specific gift such as a painting or property assigned as separate through a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement.
Unfortunately, it is the less obvious property like a 401(k) that can often be lost during asset division – particularly if one spouse is not careful in ensuring a full accounting of the couple’s assets to which that spouse may not have direct access. Thus, it can be important for those going through a divorce to work with a divorce attorney with extensive experience in asset valuation and protection to gain an accurate assessment of the situation. With a full, reliable accounting, the parties can work towards a fair and equitable resolution that can help each one along the path to a new life.
Source: Forbes, “Divorcing Women: The Truth About Your Husband’s 401(k) And Other Assets,” Jeff Landers, Aug. 8, 2013