Division of Assets Attorneys
Over the course of your marriage, you may have accrued substantial assets. No matter how much you and your ex-partner have built up, splitting it up fairly is a significant part of the divorce process. By learning more about property division laws in California and what property gets divided during divorce, you can get an idea of what to expect as you work through this process.
Want to make sure you’re treated fairly and not taken advantage of as you negotiate the division of your assets and debts? Make sure you have an aggressive Coachella Valley divorce lawyer working for you. Call Castillo & Associates at 800-497-9774 to set up a consultation with our team now.
California as a Community Property State
First, it’s important to understand that there are two ways states approach the division of property: equitable distribution and community property. Most states follow the rules of equitable distribution, in which debts and assets are split in a way that is considered fair but may not be equal. Community property states generally look at everything earned, purchased, or acquired during the marriage as belonging to both spouses. Most courts will then award both parties an equal share of the community property. If a divorcing spouse believes something should be considered separate property, the burden is on them to prove their claim.
California is one of just a few community property states. Anything earned or purchased in a marriage is generally presumed to belong to both spouses unless proven otherwise during divorce.
Which Assets Are Divided?
A big part of the community property approach is how assets are categorized. If you can successfully prove that an asset was purchased, maintained, and used only by you, you can keep it from being divided in the divorce. However, this can be fairly tricky, as community property states tend to assume that anything earned in a marriage is community property. Be ready to provide substantial documentation if you think something should be considered separate.
Even if you believe an asset is separate property, the court may see it differently. If the asset was purchased with marital funds or a combination of marital funds and separate funds, that may make it a community asset. Assets that are used by or paid for by both spouses may be considered community property, no matter who initially bought it. When you mix separate assets and communal assets, they become commingled assets and are typically considered community property.
How Assets Are Split Up
There are four ways that the state of California will divide community assets:
- In-kind division: This is the easiest and most straightforward type of property division. For assets like checking accounts and cash that are easily divided, the court may simply give each spouse one half of the assets.
- Asset distribution: Assets that aren’t as equally divided may be split via asset distribution. Consider a Palm Springs house worth $500,000 and stocks worth $500,000. Each spouse may be entitled to half, but the process of dividing a house is complicated—especially if one spouse wants to keep the house. To keep things simple and avoid forcing the sale of the home, the court may allow one party to keep the house and the other to keep the stocks. The parties have assets of the same value, but without the stress of in-kind division.
- Sale and division of proceeds: This is a straightforward way to handle assets that can easily be sold. Consider a marital home in Indio that neither party wants to keep. The home is sold, the debt paid off, and the proceeds split evenly between the parties.
- Deferred partition by conversion to tenancy in common: Although this option is not used as frequently, it can be useful under specific circumstances. The court makes both parties tenants in common. They maintain ownership of the asset together until it can be sold and divided. This may be used with a marital home in Palm Desert or another local community that cannot be sold right away.
Protecting Your Best Interests
As you go into the division of assets, it’s important to know what you want to walk away with and where you are willing to settle. While it’s unlikely to get everything you want, going in with a plan can help you get the assets you need for a fresh start. Working with a division of assets attorney in La Quinta or Indian Wells is highly recommended—the team at Castillo & Associates is committed to finding out what matters to you and helping you find a way to keep it.
Explore Your Legal Options With Castillo & Associates
If you’re ready to move forward with your divorce, it’s time to talk to Castillo & Associates. We’re focused on protecting our clients’ needs as they go through this challenging time, and our goal is to make divorce as easy as possible for you. Just contact us online or call us at 800-497-9774 to set up a consultation now.