Going through a divorce can be an extremely lengthy process. There are many factors involved, but one of the most time consuming aspects of a divorce is deciding how to divide what you and your spouse once shared.
Taking the first step to divide belongings, both material and otherwise, can be overwhelming. Depending on how long you and your partner were married, you could have acquired a large amount of property. Afterall, the average American household is reported to have over 300,000 items. It's important that you get appropriate legal advice if you want a favorable property division.
If you are getting a divorce in Monterey County, you will need to consider how you and your spouse wish to divide your property. If you, your partner, and your California divorce lawyers cannot reach a decision, you can always let the courts decide. It will then be up to judge or arbitrator to finalize property division decisions.
Regardless of how your property and debts are divided, there are vital parts of the division process you need to discuss with your divorce lawyer. Here is important information you need to know about dividing property in a California divorce.
How Property Value Is Determined
When it comes to determining the value of property, the spouses are usually in charge of assigning a monetary value to every single property item. If the spouses can’t agree on a value, the courts will determine one.
For additional financial assistance, divorcing spouses can also seek appraisals to get an accurate estimate of property such as antiques or artworks. Assistance from financial experts may also be needed for assets that are difficult to evaluate, such as retirement assets.
Community Property v.s. Separate Property
When a couple gets married, they end up sharing many things. One of the biggest thing couples share is property. Do some research to find out how your state handles property division before you file for divorce. In most cases, states are either community property states or equitable distribution states.
California is a community property state. The courts consider all assets and debts acquired by the couple during their marriage, but prior to their separation, as community property. California courts will divide community property evenly in a divorce.
This means if you are getting a divorce in California and choose to let the courts divide your property, everything will be divided equally between you and your spouse. For example, if your spouse receives a particular asset, you should also get an asset of equal value.
However, not all property is considered community property. Any property you or your spouse independently owned before your marriage is considered separate property. Separate property is not subject to the same division ruling as community property. Property that is accepted as separate includes:
- Property acquired before marriage
- Property gained after separation
- Property acquired by gift or inheritance
In the case of larger possessions of community property that is sold, the court awards both parties with equalized assets. For example, if one spouse gets a $15,000 vehicle and the other spouse is awarded land valued at $25,000, the spouse who received more is required to give the other spouse the financial difference. In this case it would be $5,000 so that each spouse ends up with $20,000 in assets.
Keep in mind, sometimes property that started off separate will become community property overtime. For example, the bank account you owned before marriage can become marital property if your spouse makes deposits into it. Other assets that can become a combined form of community and separate property includes:
- A retirement account one spouse contributed to before and after marriage
- A business one spouse started before and continue running after marriage
As one can infer, determining which property is separate and which property is community can become quite complex. To make things easier, it is recommended that you consult with a local attorney for legal advice. Remember, if you and your partner can’t decide what belongs to whom, the courts can help you reach a decision.
How To Divide Property
Once you have determined which property is separate and which is community, you can begin to actually divide the property. There is number of ways you can do this. Some spouses allow their partner to purchase their assets. Others agree to sell the assets and divide the proceeds. There are even some partners who make an arrangement to continue to hold property together even after their divorce. Consulting with your divorce attorney will help you make the best informed decision for your unique situation.
Now you are more up to speed on important aspects of dividing property in a California divorce. Use this information to your advantage and discuss your options with your divorce lawyer. This will help ensure you have a favorable divorce outcome that enables you to support yourself during the next chapter in your life.
DISCLAIMER: The materials available at this web site are for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. You should contact your attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular issue or problem. Use of and access to this Web site or any of the e-mail links contained within the site do not create an attorney-client relationship between Law Office of Barbara J. May and the user or browser. The opinions expressed at or through this site are the opinions of the individual author and may not reflect the opinions of the firm or any individual attorney.