How is Property Divided in a Divorce?
Going through a divorce is devastating, and the headache of trying to understand the intricacies of divorce law and how it applies to your specific circumstances can be a nightmare. If you find yourself wondering, “How is property divided in a divorce?” then you are not alone.
The first piece of advice for people facing a divorce settlement is to research your specific state law or reach out to an asset division lawyer who can help you understand how family law property division is settled in your state.
How is Property Divided in a Divorce in California
The state of California practices the principle of “community property” during divorce proceedings. This means that all property accumulated by the spouses during the marriage is considered community property, and thus must be divided relatively equally between the spouses.
While some spouses are able to negotiate the division of property without the help of an asset division lawyer, property divisions are not considered legal without the approval of a judge who needs to validate the legality of the final separation agreement.
Unfortunately, divorce can bring forth hostility even after previously happy marriages. Often couples find that they cannot agree on how to separate their assets, and require the help of lawyers who specialize in family law property division. Both sides will present their case, and a judge will determine a division of property that is fair and relatively equitable. Cases in which the spouses have children together, tend to further complicate the divorce as determining a child custody arrangement can be a contentious issue.
Joint Property Versus Separate Property
During divorce litigation, a judge will need to determine which assets are joint property (community property) and which property is considered separate. Separate property includes:
- Property that either spouse possessed before the marriage
- Inheritances or gifts that either spouse was granted both prior to or during the marriage
- Possessions that were acquired after the sale of personal property as mentioned above
- Interest, dividends, or earnings on separate property
- Property that was acquired by either spouse during the period between the official separation of the spouses and their finalized divorce
Shared property may become joint property if both spouses share payments on the property, as in a house, or if both spouses contribute to the worth of a property, as in a bank account. Nuances like these make an asset division lawyer highly recommended in high-asset divorce proceedings.
Determining the Value of Property
Once the shared and joint property are differentiated, the division property process begins. Joint property is not always physically split down the middle but is often awarded as whole parts. For example, while one spouse may be able to keep the more expensive car, the other may be granted the higher checking account or an equalization payment.
Community debt is a complex issue beyond the sample of this blog, however, it is highly advised to assign debts to one spouse instead of sharing the ownership of the debt. This is to prevent one person’s credit from being negatively affected if the other is unable to make payments. Divorce litigators often offset an imbalance of property division by granting the debt ownership to the spouse who was granted more personal property. While one spouse may receive the higher checking account that same spouse may also have to assume the sole responsibility of paying off the credit card debt.
Family Law Property Division in San Jose
If you are facing a contentious divorce, it is vital to invest in an asset division lawyer to help you protect your personal property and ensure that you are not being taken advantage of. LPEP is a reputable high-asset family law firm that specializes in representing high-net-worth individuals. Schedule a 30-minute consultation today so that you may understand how we can help you. To learn more about property division, read this.