Mr. Hinden understands that the division of marital property is one of the major focuses of any divorce case. The proper characterization and valuation of every community asset is essential to achieving a fair and just property settlement.
What Defines Community Property
Community property is any asset acquired or income earned by a married person during the marriage while living in the state. The court has jurisdiction to divide all community property.
What Is Separate Property
Separate property includes property owned by the person before marriage and any rents or profits derived from it, and property acquired by the person, even during marriage, by gift or through a will or other such device. Property acquired during marriage but while living outside the state of California is considered quasi-community property and is for the most part treated as community property and distributed accordingly. One of the most important steps in the property division is the proper characterization of assets as either community property or separate property.
Is Debt Considered Community or Separate Property
It is important to note that not only assets but debts as well will be characterized as either community or separate and distributed accordingly. While property to be distributed may be quite valuable both financially and sentimentally, it is at least equally as important to pay close attention to the characterization and distribution of debt, which can greatly impact one’s post-dissolution standard of living.
Since the parties own each community asset jointly, the job of the court is to divide the marital estate in an equal 50-50 fashion. Obviously, many assets cannot be divided equally unless they are sold and the proceeds divided equally. To avoid this, the court may award different assets of equal value to the parties. Therefore, the proper valuation of assets is another very important piece of the property division process.
Issues Involving Property Division Can Be Complex
Issues of property division can get quite complex. For instance, how do you account for the labor contributed by a spouse to a business owned or managed by the spouse during the marriage? What if the spouse is a partner in a business which may later be sold? How do you value the goodwill of the business, and how do you measure the contribution of the spouse to building that goodwill? If one spouse works to support the other spouse through medical school, is the working spouse entitled to any return or reimbursement when the marriage ends? A qualified and experienced divorce attorney will be familiar with these issues and will be able to help you understand what a proper property settlement should be.