What I Am Entitled to in a Divorce?
California Divorce Attorney
At the time of a divorce, each party is entitled to an equal division of the parties’ assets and debts acquired during marriage. This includes: real property, personal property, retirement benefits, employment benefits, household furnishings, and other assets the parties acquired. The property may be sold and the proceeds divided equally, or divided in-kind. This means, for example, one party may be awarded the house and its equity and the other party, may be awarded the retirement benefits if they are substantially equal in value. This division of property may take many shapes and directions; however, the goal is for an equal division of all of the community assets and obligations.
Community And Separate Property
To understand community property it helps to know what is defined as separate property. Generally speaking, separate property includes assets and debts of either spouse prior to marriage or after the date of separation, or acquired during marriage by gift (including gifts from one spouse to the other) or inheritance. Community property generally includes assets and debts acquired or incurred during the marriage up to date of separation.
In California, date of separation is important to the value of community assets because any property a spouse acquires after the date of separation, including income from a job, is assumed to be that spouses’s separate property. The date of separation is when one or both parties no longer desires to continue with the marriage and one spouse actually takes action to physically separate from the other spouse. The date of separation is a factual issue that most spouses can agree upon, but sometimes it is litigated if it impacts the characterization of a significant asset or debt.
An asset or debt could be a combination of separate and community property. For example, if one person owns a house prior to marriage and then during the marriage, the community makes payments on the house, technically speaking, the other party has a community property interest in that house, the extent of which must then be determined.
Title to property and commingling or joining of assets may also have an affect on the true nature of property. It is very important that parties consult with an attorney before changing the title on property.
The issue of hidden assets and valuation issues of community property assets, especially businesses, is one that requires discovery and appraisals. The law office of Thomas Hogan is uniquely suited to propound discovery, issue subpoenas and hire the requisite experts so that the client is able to make informed decisions as to the true nature and extent of community for purposes of settlement and trial.
To learn more about community property, separate property and custody and support, please contact the law offices of Thomas Hogan.