Property division during marriage can either be the most complex and costly part of a divorce, or the easiest, least costly portion.
3 Steps to Property Division in Divorce:
- Identify all property and debts – at the outset of the case both spouses will be required to list all assets and debts that they are aware of, as well as all the material facts and information that relate to those assets and debts, as well s their values.
- Characterize all property and debts as either community property or separate property – “Characterization” is the proves of categorizing all assets and dates in existence at the date of the separation as either “Community” or “Separate.”In California, generally all property acquired during the marriage is community property, whether real or personal property. Typically, any property acquired by either party prior to marriage is considered to be separate property. There are several exceptions to the rule that an attorney can walk you through. During the marriage, both parties have the right to access and manage the community property assets. A judge has the authority to divide the couple’s community property during the divorce proceedings.
- Assign values to community property and community debts – A neutral appraiser can perform this.
California Law and Property Division
California law divides community property and debts equally once all community property is identified and valued.
When Things Get Complicated with Property Division
Analysis can become complicated when there are disputed separate property claims, tracing claims to separate assets or debts, or there are other complex claims for credits and reimbursements. If one spouse owned a business during the time of the marriage there can be additional need for analysis in order to determine community property versus the separate property components of the growth of that business.