Division of Your San Diego Property After Divorce
You have finally decided to get a divorce, and as a result, you feel two opposite emotions playing tug-of-war inside of you. On one hand, you’re ready to lead your own life apart from your spouse. On the other hand, you’re worried about how much tug-of-war you and your spouse will engage in when it comes to property divisions.
The division of property after divorce can be a relatively costly and inexpensive part of your divorce, or property division may become the costliest and most complicated aspect of your marital breakup. Either way, property division isn’t a game, as it can have long-term implications for your finances.
Read below to learn more about how the division of property after divorce works in San Diego, and how a leading property division attorney like me, Michael C. MacNiel, can guide you through this process with your best interests in mind.
What Exactly Is Property Division?
The division of property after divorce in California involves three steps: identifying all of your and your future ex’s debts and property; determining which debts and property are community property versus separate property; and valuing your community property and debts.
California is a community property state, which means that shared property will be divided down the middle during divorce. This is the opposite of what takes place in most other states, called equitable distribution states. In these states, a family law judge will divide marital property in an equitable, or fair, manner based on various factors.
Because California family law judges simply divide shared property 50/50, the division of property after divorce in the Golden State can be relatively straightforward. However, this is not the case if you and your future ex dispute what is community property versus separate property. In this situation, you must be prepared to trace your claims to your separate assets/debts, as well as deal with complex reimbursement/credit claims.
Things become even more complicated if you or the other party owned a company when you were married, as you must determine which components of the business are separate property versus community property.
Let’s take a more in-depth look at the division of property after divorce in California and how I can help you with it.
Identifying, Characterizing, and Valuing Your Debts/Property During the Division of Property After Divorce
At the beginning of the divorce process, you and the other party will need list each of your debts and assets. Then, you will need to provide information about these assets/debts.
When it comes to characterizing your debts/assets as community versus separate property, this process might be straightforward, or it might involve forensic analysis and extensive tracing. A property division attorney can guide you through this potentially complex process so that you get to keep the assets to which you are legally entitled.
As far as community property valuation is concerned, this process can be either simple or complex depending on your situation. For instance, if you are trying to value real estate, you can hire an appraiser who is neutral to do this for you.
A Look at Separate Property During the Division of Property After Divorce
As we discussed earlier, community property refers to any property that you and the other party accumulated during your marriage, which means it is subject to the division of property after divorce. However, separate property is any property that you or the other party owned prior to your marriage, or certain assets you receive during your marriage. Here are some examples of separate property in California:
- An inheritance or gift that you received either before your marriage or while you were married
- Income that your inheritance or gift produced
- Monetary damages from a personal injury claim
- Income generated from an asset that you owned before getting married (for example, rental income from a home that you rented out to tenants prior to your marriage)
If you claim that an asset is separate property but your spouse disagrees, you’ll need to cough up records that can help you to prove your stance regarding this asset. Receipts or contracts are examples of paper-trail documents that may help you in this situation.
What About the Marital Home During the Division of Property After Divorce?
This question doesn’t come with a straightforward answer, as every divorcing couple’s marital home situation is different. The reality is, the marital home may represent a lot of things to you and your future ex during your divorce. For instance, you may view it as the first home you purchased, so it might be a source of pride for you. Or, you may yearn to keep your children in the home, as it’s the only home they’ve ever lived in.
A common issue for many divorcing couples is if just one spouse is on the home’s title. This may be because of credit issues or because just one of them owned the house before they got married.
So, what if you owned the house before getting married but you and the other party used community funds to cover the mortgage payments or make repairs? Just because only your name is on the residence’s title does not mean that a judge will view it as separate property—an asset in which your spouse has no financial interest. Rather, you’ll need to determine how much of this asset is community property versus separate property. A property division attorney can help you through this process.
Also, let’s say that you both own the marital home but you used your separate funds to make the down payment for the home. According to California’s family code, you may recoup the down payment dollar amount during the division of property after divorce.
Additional Marital Home Considerations
When it comes to dividing the marital home, you’ve got a couple of options. First, you could sell the home and divide the proceeds between you and your future ex. If you’d like to keep the home, the second option is to offer an asset to your spouse that is equivalent to 50% of the interest he or she has in the house (based on how much equity is in their home).
Tackle the Division of Property After Divorce with Confidence Today!
I, Michael C. MacNeil, am a leading property division attorney who is ready to guide you through the asset distribution process as part of your divorce.
I can help you during the divorce mediation process, where you and the other party can work toward creating a written settlement agreement that reflects both of your wishes when it comes to property division and other divorce issues, like child custody. The benefit of mediation is that it is generally faster, less stressful, and more cost effective than divorce.
Of course, you may not be able to find common ground with your future ex on the area of property division. In this situation, I will be prepared to litigate this unresolved issue on your behalf. My main goal is to help you to achieve the most personally favorable outcome given the circumstances of your divorce.
Get in touch with me today to find out more about how I can protect your rights during the division of property after divorce.