Even in the most amicable of divorces dividing the property between both spouses can be quite stressful. It probably did not occur to you on your wedding day that the marriage would end. Happy couples may not think of getting a prenuptial agreement. Therefore, the type of property you own and state divorce laws determine how the property is split up.
1. Division of Property
The division of property is dependent on a few factors, such as whether or not the divorce is contested, the state common property laws, and the type of property you own. California is one of nine states where all property is owned equally by the couple.
2. How to Determine Whether the Property (or Debt) is Marital or Separate
Separate property is any property acquired before the marriage. This can also include inheritances and gifts given exclusively to one of the spouses. This can also include anything purchased or acquired with the separate property. For example, if you use money from an inheritance to purchase something then it is separate. Additionally, separate property includes retirement accounts. Any money put into the account or accrued through interest during the marriage, however, is considered marital property.
California is considered a community property state, which means that all property or debt acquired by either spouse during the marriage is owned equally by the spouses. Even if you lived in another state and returned, the property acquired still counts as marital property.
3. How to Decide How to Divide Property
There are a few routes that can be taken depending on how amicable the spouses are. First the couple should make a list of all the things they agree they own jointly, and then additional lists of what they agree they own separately.
In an ideal world spouses will always have easy separations but disputes can arise over the ownership of a piece of property. Mediation is often necessary in these cases.
4. The Complexities of Divorce Law in California
In addition to being a community property state, California is also a no-fault divorce state, which means that no reason is needed to file for a divorce and a judge does not make a decision based on the actions of either party.
Estate planning is an essential financial component to consider when going through a divorce. If you have already drawn a will and have listed your spouse as an heir then you will want to talk to a divorce attorney to change it.
5. How Prenuptial Agreements Work
This is a marriage contract made before the marriage that protect the property and finances of the parties should the marriage end in divorce or death and describes how they will be distributed. These can include guidelines for how to split up things among children from a previous marriage. A common misconception is that these are only useful to the extremely wealthy, but all couples can benefit later should the marriage not last.
Divorce is hard and can be more complex when child custody and visitation rights, valuable assets, or alimony is involved. A Carlsbad attorney with compassion and a solid understanding of California divorce law, such as the ones you will find at Fischer & Van Thiel – Expert Divorce Lawyers in Carlsbad, CA, can make the arduous process of getting a divorce easier.