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Property Division

Property Division Attorneys in Folsom

What is Considered Community & Marital Property in California?

Property division paperworkCalifornia is unique in the fact that it is one of nine community property states in the country. "Community property" refers to any assets or debts that a married couple acquires during their union. Since it was acquired while the spouses were together, it is equally their property. Anything from wages earned to real property (family home or family vacation home) is community property if it has been acquired during marriage. The same rules apply to debt. Typically, this property receives equal distribution to each partner. However, not every couple can reach a decision on their own.

Sometimes, property and debt division can be simple; most of the time, however, it is a complicated process that requires the help of an experienced attorney. Our property division lawyers in Folsom can represent you through the process, fighting to protect your rights and interests. We can ensure that negotiations are fair and that the final resolution is favorable.

    Discuss your property division case with us during a consultation. Call (916) 794-4576 to schedule yours.

    How is Property Divided During a Divorce?

    Determine if the Property is Community or Separate

    Community property refers to the shared assets between spouses. However, if there are assets from outside of the marriage, it is known as separate property. Separate property typically is not included in the division of property during divorce, since it is solely owned by one spouse. It is usually acquired by way of gifts, inheritances and/or property acquired before the marriage and/or after the date of separation. While this may seem like a simple process, deciding if the property is community or separate can be long and difficult.

    A Third Category: Mixed Property or Commingled Assets

    There is also a third category known as mixed property, which is property that has both components of separate and community property. This may be a car that one spouse bought prior to marriage but then made car payments on with earnings during the marriage. Another example is if one spouse received an inheritance – which is presumptively separate property – but subsequently put their inheritance monies into a joint checking account during the marriage. If this occurs, then it becomes commingled. Sometimes, unwinding mixed property is easy, but it can also be complex and require tracing. Tracing usually occurs when assets have comingled.

    Calculate the Value of the Property

    After deciding if the property is community or separate, you have to assign a monetary value to each asset. Often it is difficult for the spouses to agree on the value of each item. In this case, financial professionals and advisors are great assistance in the determination process. If you and your spouse can easily communicate, you can split the money yourselves. However, the courts can also step in.

    Division of Property

    When dividing physical items and assets, certain items are typically delegated to each spouse. If one person wishes to buy out another person’s portion of an asset, they can also choose to do so. Technically, property division does not have to necessarily occur during separation. A couple can also choose to keep the property under both names after the divorce. Debts usually end up with one spouse or the other; however, they can also receive similar division amongst the couple.

    Characterization of Property

    Property characterization is important in California since it is a community property state wherein all assets and debts are equally split unless otherwise agreed.

    Consult with an experienced family lawyer to:

    • Ensure your separate property is not wrongly characterized and subject to equal division
    • Ensure you receive your one-half community equity in any community asset
    • Ensure you are not failing to apportion and/or trace property

    Contention in Property Division

    Most often, parties disagree on how particular property should be characterized, vaulted, dispose, or divided. Both spouses must cooperate to work out property and debt division – it is faster, wiser, and cheaper.

    All property should be divided equally so that each spouse receives roughly the same value of the property. Spouses are not required to sell everything and divide the funds – though if parties cannot reach a decision, the Court may order it to be done. Making compromises is critical. If one spouse wishes to keep more liquid funds (checking accounts, stock accounts, etc.) that can be balanced by assigning community debt to that spouse as well. Remember, both spouses must be looking to come up with equal “net” share, or the value of the assigned property after subtracting out the assigned.

    Another important factor to keep in mind is that once the property is divided and the debt is assigned to one spouse or the other, you must make the marital settlement agreement a part of the Court’s judgment. That way, it can be enforced just like any other money judgment.

      Get started on your case by calling (916) 794-4576. We serve Folsom, Northern California, and the surrounding counties.

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