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Equitable Division Impacted by Conduct of Parties

In Georgia, each spouse is entitled to an equitable share of all marital property acquired during the marriage upon a divorce. Note that marital property is divided equitably, not equally - this means that the property will be divided fairly, taking into account the specific circumstances of the case.

A recent case out of New York, which has an equitable division law similar to Georgia's, held that a husband is entitled to no marital assets in his divorce action due to his "egregious conduct" in abusing his wife. Husband who raped and abused wife isn't entitled to share of marital assets, court rules, by Debra Cassens Weiss,, January 6, 2016. In that case, the husband sought one half of the marital assets, claiming that his wife falsely accused him of domestic violence and rape. However, he had already been convicted of the crimes and was serving a 40-year sentence. Accordingly, his attack of that conviction in the divorce action was, according to the Judge, "a malicious and vexing attempt to cause plaintiff further emotional distress." In addition, the court found that the husband made no financial contributions during the marriage, and his violence even caused the wife to lose past jobs. As such, the court had no problem finding that he should not receive any portion of the marital assets.

Often, courts hear of conduct that may cause one party to receive a larger portion of the marital estate than the other (for example a 60/40 split). It is not as likely to see conduct so egregious that it would case a party to receive no portion of the marital assets but, as shown in this case, it can happen. It is important to remember that the court can and will look at everything relevant in making its equitable division determination, so act accordingly.


Asset Division
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