When you divorce, state law requires you and your partner to divide the marital assets in a manner that is reasonable and acceptable to both parties. In the best case, both parties will cooperate and be fair about the division of assets. In the worst case, one or both parties may contest particular assets, claim an asset is separate property, or hide assets.
Whether you and your spouse have a contentious or amicable relationship, it’s often a smart idea to consult with a Family Law Attorney when you are dividing your assets. Your attorney can help you understand the difference between separate property and community property, mediate between both parties, or represent you in front of the other party’s family law attorney so your best interests are served.
Dividing the Marital Assets
The first step is for both parties to make a list of marital assets. Unless otherwise stated in a premarital agreement, marital assets are divided equitably. While not a complete list, some of the most common marital assets include:
- Family home
- Bank accounts
- Vacation home or property
- Securities such as stocks and bonds
- Retirement Benefits
- Furniture Household Items
California is a Community Property State
In a community property state such as California, assets are generally split 50/50. However, in some cases, it may be in your best interest to negotiate a different settlement. Rather than think in terms of the present monetary value, you should consider short and long-term financial goals. An experienced Family Law Attorney can guide you to divide your assets in a way that protects you now and in the future.
Separate Property versus Marital Property
Generally speaking, separate property is not included in the division of assets. Separate property can include:
- Property that was owned by either partner prior to the marriage
- Inheritance acquired before or after the marriage
- Third party personal gifts
- Monies earned from a personal injury settlement
An exception to this case is if the separate property is co-mingled with your spouse. If this happens, an argument can be made that the separate property is now marital property and your spouse has rights to it.
Marital property is anything else that was purchased or acquired during the marriage. Marital property is generally divided equitably during the division of assets.
If you are unsure whether your property is separate or marital, consult a Family Law Lawyer.
Hiring a Forensic Accountant in a Divorce Case
If your spouse is not forthcoming with his or her assets, you may want to consider hiring a forensic accountant. A forensic accountant may investigate, acquire, and analyze information that can help you come up with a fair and just settlement. He or she can also represent you in court.
In Need of a Family Law Attorney in Walnut Creek?
Mendes Weed, LLP has experience in Family Law matters and can help you with your divorce proceedings. If you need assistance with your division of assets or want someone to represent you in front of your spouse or his or her attorney, please contact us.
Disclaimer: The tips and materials provided in this email are for informational purposes only, offered as public service. No information in this email should be considered legal advice or used as a substitute for legal advice. For legal advice, you should contact an attorney directly.
Mendes Weed, LLP offices are located in Walnut Creek and our skilled attorneys provide family, tax, business and trust law assistance for clients. For your convenience, we also have attorneys' offices in San Francisco and Sacramento by appointment only.
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