Ensuring a Fair Division of Property
California is a community property state. This means that each spouse owns 50 percent of all assets acquired during the marriage. It also means that if the parties incurred debts, then each spouse owes 50 percent of those, also. Although this concept sounds simple, it can be quite complex. Certain property, like an inheritance or an asset owned before the marriage, will likely be considered separate property and excluded from the community property division.
At Minyard Morris, our 16 divorce attorneys collaborate relative to complex issues to ensure that community property is divided in accordance with the law and legal precedent. Our team has over 270 years of collective family law experience, including thousands of property division cases. We can assist you with the most complicated property division questions or the straightforward cases.
How California Courts Award Assets
California courts have wide discretion to award assets to each party as they deem appropriate, so long as the awards are equal in value. This does not mean that every asset is equally divided. It means that total assets awarded to each spouse must be equal in value. Courts may award a specific asset to one party based on personal and emotional attachment to the asset, with offsetting assets being awarded to the other party.
The equal division rule has one important exception. Divorce courts have the authority to divide the community property unequally if the estate has a negative net value.
Many types of assets raise complicated problems pertaining to an equal division, including:
- Deferred compensation plans
- Stock options and RSUs
- Business interests
- Real estate
- Individual and business tax issues
- Retirement plans
Protecting Separate Property
In California, separate property includes inheritances, gifts and assets owned and debts owed before the date of marriage. There are many complicated issues related to separate property. For example, when the separate property of one spouse is used for the renovation of a community property home during the marriage or when community property is used to improve or enhance the separate property of one spouse.
Although California does not recognize common law marriage, cohabitation may create certain property rights.
Experienced, Strategic Property Division Representation
At Minyard Morris, we work with clients who want to attain a fair property division, while protecting their financial futures. Our 16 divorce lawyers handle cases from the simple to the complex, involving large estates and businesses. Call 949-724-1111 or connect with us through email.