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Marital Property in Georgia – Georgia Case Law Update

On January 12, 2009, the Supreme Court of Georgia addressed an interesting issue regarding equitable division of marital property in the Georgia divorce case of Smith v. Smith (S08F1706), where the parties had married and divorced each other twice. The parties were first married in 1979and divorced in 1988. The remarried in 1999 and divorced in 2008. The trial court awarded the Wife, among other property, a portion of the Husband's military retirement pay, and the Husband appealed that specific award.

The Husband argued that he retired from the military in 1995, between the parties' first and second marriages and, thus, his military retirement pay was his separate property, not subject to equitable distribution. The Georgia Supreme Court agreed and reversed the judgment of the trial court. The Court held the military retirement pay to be the Husband's separate property because all contributions to the plan predated the second marriage (i.e. there were no contributions during the second marriage) and, since the Wife was not awarded any portion of this account in the first divorce, that account became the Husband's separate property at that time.

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