Property Settlement Lawyers in San Diego
Property Settlement in a California Divorce
When a couple decides to divorce in California, one of the main tasks is to determine how the property of the marriage will be split between the divorcing spouses. Depending upon the nature and amount of the assets and the ability of the couple to cooperate to achieve a division of property that is fair to both parties, this can be either relatively straightforward or extremely complicated. California is a community property state, which means all property acquired from the date of the marriage until its termination are owned equally by both spouses. In a divorce, the assets are divided in half, with an equal share going to each. Arriving at a fair and equitable California property settlement can be challenging and usually requires the assistance of an experienced San Diego, CA family law attorney who can call upon financial professionals to help place a value on the assets. It should begin with a thorough inventory of all assets, which may include, among others:
- Real estate
- Bank accounts
- Businesses owned by the family
- Securities and other investments
- Retirement accounts
- Out-of-state property
- Assets held outside of the country
- Art, jewelry, and other valuables
It will be necessary to determine which assets are joint and which, if any, are separate, owned exclusively by one partner, such as inheritances or personal gifts, as these are generally excluded from the property division. It is not always clear if a particular asset is separately owned or community property. Your attorney will understand the application of California law in these cases and will advise you. In many cases it is not desirable, or even possible, to divide a particular asset down the middle; however, each party should receive assets totaling the same amount.
Marital Debt in a California Property Settlement
In addition to inventorying all of your marital assets, you will need to itemize your debts. Like property, debts are in most cases to be divided equally. They can also be used to balance an unequal distribution of assets. In cases of excessive amounts of debt, filing bankruptcy as a couple prior to the divorce may be advisable to simplify the property settlement. California, however, unlike many states, does not allow doubling of the assets exempted from a bankruptcy, so you should discuss the matter with your attorney if your joint debt has become unmanageable.
The Marital Settlement Agreement
Ideally, you and your soon-to-be-ex spouse, with the help of your lawyer, will be able to arrive at property settlement agreement that works for both of you. Your attorney will assist you in negotiating a fair division and will draft a contract called a Marital Settlement Agreement, which you both will sign, to be included in your final divorce order. This is important in the event that one or the other spouse fails to honor the agreement. Having it included in the court order will make it enforceable if later disagreements arise.
Complex and High Asset Property Settlements
In California, many wealthy couples have complex assets and require professional analysis by CPAs, forensic accountants, financial advisors, and other knowledgeable and credentialed professionals. Valuation of complex assets can be challenging, and you must have an attorney with relationships with appropriate financial experts to ensure that all assets are disclosed, properly classified, and accurately valued for division.
Contested Property Division
Fair property division requires full disclosure of all assets. It is not unusual in a contentious divorce for one spouse to attempt to conceal assets; or a spouse may try to exclude certain property from the settlement by claiming it as separate property. California law places the burden of proof on the party claiming separate property, if the property was acquired during the course of the marriage. If you have property that you feel should be excluded, or if your spouse is wrongfully attempting to exclude property from your divorce settlement, your attorney will work with you to protect your assets and property interests.
The Best Southern California Attorney to Represent Your Interests in Dividing Marital Property
In the San Diego area, when you need a knowledgeable and committed attorney to represent your interest in dividing your marital property in a divorce, the Boyd Law Firm will provide you with the skilled representation you need to achieve a fair outcome that will allow you to embark comfortably on a new life post-divorce. We have a superior track record of helping our clients reach a property settlement that is fair and satisfactory, without having to leave the division to the court. In the rare cases when this is not possible, we will litigate on your behalf, presenting a thoroughly documented and persuasive case for your preferred property division. Contact Boyd Law today for a free consultation.