Property Division

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California is a community property state. This means that any assets or debts acquired during the marriage belong equally to both spouses. Any property that the couple got before they married, or that they acquired as a gift or inheritance, is separate property. In some cases, divorcing couples are able to figure out a fair separation of community property. However, a judge has to sign off on the agreement and issue the final order. People who are dissolving a marriage in Manhattan Beach or the surrounding area can consult an experienced family law attorney at the Calderone Law Firm, particularly in cases where the marriage is longer than five years or there is a lot of property to divide.

Property Division in a California Divorce

Divorcing couples must either divide their community property or ask the court to divide it. Property division is not necessarily physical. You cannot actually cut a marital house in half, for example. Instead, the value must be equally divided. For example, one spouse may get a $1 million marital home, while the other spouse may keep $1 million in a combination of cash and retirement benefits.

When you are trying to arrange an informal property division, the first step is to categorize all property and debt. You will need to decide whether the assets or debts are marital or separate. The second step is to determine the property value and the value of the debt. Each spouse's assets and debts will need to be declared honestly to the other spouse. The third step is dividing the property. You will need to divide the property so that both your spouse and you have roughly equal shares.

One of the most significant divisions of property involves dividing the marital home. There are multiple ways this can be handled. A common way is for the spouses to agree to sell their home and split the sales profits. In other cases, it may be appropriate for one spouse to buy out the other or for the court to provide for a deferred sale to minimize the impact on small children.

In some cases, spouses hide community assets from each other to avoid dividing them. It can help to have an experienced attorney who can be alert to the possibility of dishonesty or an innocent omission. Sometimes spouses have difficulty actually categorizing property as separate or community property because separate property was used towards the benefit of the community property, such as when repairs were necessary.

When one spouse owns a business or professional practice, the division can be especially complex, as can the division of a pension. As with other valuable assets, it is crucial to retain an attorney for help dividing these. In some cases, the pension plan itself must be joined to your divorce case so that the judge can make an appropriate order about how to divide it. The order is called a qualified domestic relations order (QDRO), and it must be approved by both the judge and the benefits provider in order to ensure that a spouse who is not employed by the organization that is providing the benefits will actually receive his or her share of them.

Discuss Your Marriage Dissolution Proceeding with a Manhattan Beach Attorney

Property division in divorce can be complicated, especially if valuable assets, such as pensions or a private practice, or substantial debt is at stake. At the Calderone Law Firm, our divorce lawyers represent residents of Manhattan Beach as well as El Segundo, Hermosa Beach, Palos Verdes, Redondo Beach, San Pedro, and Torrance. Contact us at (310) 706-4101 or via our online form to schedule an appointment.