When spouses enter into a divorce or a separation, the property owned by the spouses both separately and jointly during the marriage will be divided between the parties, either through an agreement that the court will approve if it is just and equitable or through a court order if the parties are unable to come to a fair agreement. consider getting a San Diego Property Division Attorney to deal with:
- real estate, including family homes and second homes
- personal property such as furniture and vehicles
- savings and checking accounts
- investments, including stocks, bonds, mutual funds, etc.
- retirement benefits
- family-owned businesses, etc.
California has one of the more complicated sets of laws in the country regarding the division of assets and property upon a divorce or separation. At the Law Offices of Andy Cook, we help parties who are going through a divorce or legal separation to understand their rights and best strategies regarding division of assets and property, while ensuring that the rights and interests of the parties are preserved and protected now and into the future.
Dividing Assets and Property by Agreement
Parties are free to come to their own agreement as to a division of their assets upon divorce as a way of avoiding the uncertainty and expense of a trial, and this agreement will have to be approved by a judge who will examine the agreement to determine whether it is fair under California law. Parties who reach agreements often do so through consultation with attorneys knowledgeable about what the fair division of property is under California law and who can negotiate with the other party to reach a fair and equitable division of property. This can be a challenging process where there are different kinds of property and where the property may be hard to value in accordance with each spouse’s contribution to the property, e.g. a house that the spouses each helped pay for and improve together or a family business that one or more spouses contributed to building.
Dividing Assets and Property by Court Order
If the parties cannot reach an agreement regarding the division of assets and property and/or if one or more of the parties is not being cooperative in the negotiation and division process (i.e. one party is not providing full information about his or her property), the judge will have to divide the property between the parties. This process can involve complicated evidentiary showings and hearings.
The general approach that the judge will employ in dividing property is to allow each party to keep their own separate property, which is the property that each party came into the marriage with separately, or which was given as a gift to one party in particular (i.e. a wife receives an inheritance from an aunt that was intended only for her). The judge will, however, divide up what is referred to as “community property,” which is the property that the parties to the marriage acquired over the course of the marriage. The rules of community property can be extremely complicated, and are the subject of a separate page here, but generally any income generated by either party during the marriage or any property acquired during the marriage by either property with community funds will be considered community property. For example, if one spouse worked a job over 10 years of the marriage, and accumulated $1,000,000 in savings over that time, all of that money will be considered community property. The court will generally divide the community property in half between the two parties to the marriage. The distinction between what is community property and separate property can become quite intricate, such as in determining how much of a business or an ongoing pension plan is community property, and both parties are advised to consult counsel to make sure their rights in the property is protected.
Seek Experienced Legal Representation with a San Diego Property Division Attorney
The courts have wide latitude in dividing assets and property upon legal separation or divorce, and the rules regarding the fair division of property in California can be quite complex, so it is in your interest to speak with an experienced attorney who can help you navigate the process of dividing assets and property. The lawyers at the Law Offices of Andy Cook possess the knowledge, skills and abilities necessary to provide you with the representation you need in this critical area.