Ensuring an Equal 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, each spouse owes 50 percent of those, also. Although this concept sounds simple, it can be quite complex. Certain assets, 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 19 Orange County divorce attorneys collaborate relative to complex issues to ensure that community property is divided in accordance with the law. Our team has almost 300 years of collective family law experience, including thousands of property division cases. We can assist you with the most complicated high net worth divorces or the more traditional divorces.
How the Orange County Courts Divide and Award Assets
Courts have wide discretion in both high-asset divorces and more traditional divorces 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 valuation and an equal division, including:
- Separate and comingled assets
- 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 acquired before the date of marriage or after the date of separation. 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.
Experienced, Strategic Property Division Representation
At Minyard Morris, we work with clients to protect their assets. Our 19 Orange County divorce lawyers handle cases from the more traditional divorce to the complex, high net worth divorce. Call 949-416-2773 or connect with us through email.