As a community property state, California law requires that each spouse receive an equal share of the marital estate. The marital estate consists of all property that was acquired during the course of the marriage. Any property that was owned by either spouse prior to the marriage is considered separate property and would not be subject to division under the law.
The first step in any property division proceeding is determining what should be included in the marital estate. This process can be difficult to complete when disputes arise over how certain assets should be categorized. With the rest of the proceeding dependent on a fair division of property, it is wise to have an experienced lawyer representing you from the outset.
At Contreras Law Firm, we have decades of combined experience in the handling of property division matters, including the estates of high net worth couples. We can help you resolve disputes over community and separate assets as a foundation for the rest of the process.
Dividing The Marital Estate
Once all community property has been identified and disputes over separate property have been resolved, the next step is to assign a fair value to all marital assets. This is particularly important for physical assets such as a home, car or piece of art that cannot be divided between the spouses. By having a fair value for the entire estate, it can be divided in a much more efficient and fair manner.
Some couples skip the valuation of the marital estate and, instead, simply allow one spouse to take the house and another to take the assets in the house. This is an agreeable option for many couples, but it comes with many potential downfalls as well. An experienced family law attorney will be able to point you in the right direction to find an appraiser experienced in the division of marital property.
While physical property is comparatively easy to divide during divorce proceedings, other intangible forms of property, such as a business interest can be much more difficult. If you came into a marriage owning your own company or business interest, and your spouse assisted you in providing support to this business over the years, your spouse may have grounds to claim that a percentage of the ownership interest is community property.
Additionally, 401(k) plans and other employment benefit plans can be subject to division. Even if one spouse established the retirement account and paid into it for several years prior to the marriage, at a minimum, the amount that the account increased in value during the course of the marriage can be considered community property. Consideration will also be given to the extent to which either spouse supported the career of the other while sacrificing his or her own personal development and advancement.
Contreras Law Firm | San Diego, California, Family Law Firm
You can trust your marital property concerns to the attorneys at Contreras Law Firm. We work tirelessly to ensure our clients receive what is just and fair under California law.
Contact our San Diego office today for your initial free consultation.Back to Top