Divorce by its very nature can be a painful, unpleasant process for all sides.
One of the greatest causes of conflict during divorce is the question of how to reach a fair, equitable division of marital assets.
As a community property state, California makes this process seem deceptively simple.
Property accumulated during the marriage is divided under two classes _ community, or shared assets, and separate assets, those which are seen as being the sole property of one spouse.
Community property is property or other assets which were purchased jointly by the divorcing couple, during the course of the marriage, using joint or co-mingled marital funds.
This includes both real estate, such as the marital home, as well as other tangible assets purchased during the course of the marriage, such as a car.
Pensions and retirement plans are also considered community property if any of the accumulated value of the plan was acquired during the course of the marriage.
Under California law, each spouse is entitled to a 50 percent share of any community asset.
Separate assets are any property or asset that was acquired prior to the marriage, or that was bought using money that was specifically gifted to the person who purchased the asset.
For instance, if you are married, and buy a car for your personal use using money you inherited during the marriage, that car is considered your personal property and would remain so after the divorce.
Any money earned from a separate property – say, rent from home you purchased prior to the marriage or income from a business you owned prior to other marriage – are also considered separate property, as is any property or asset purchases using proceeds from a separate property.
And, of course, any money earned or property accumulated after the date of the separation of marriage is also consider separate.
Unfortunately, determining which property falls under which category can be very, very complicated.
This is worsened by the inevitable co-mingling of assets that occurs during a marriage.
For instance, if you own a home prior to getting married, then sell the home after the marriage to make a down payment on a joint residence – with the couple jointly making mortgage payments on the home — it can be very, very hard to determine how to fairly determine a fair distribution of home or the value of the home.
Determining fair distribution of a pension that pre-dates the marriage can also be a difficult problem to solve.
And property is not the only financial issue to be decided – California law also treats marital debt as an issue of joint property and separate property that must be divided up as part of the divorce process.
Property distribution can be an extremely complicated process, and one that should not be undertaken without the assistance of an experienced legal team that is well-versed in California property and divorce law.
If you are considering divorce, contact us today.
Divorce is never easy, but having the right legal team in your corner is essential to getting the best settlement possible.