One of the objectives of the divorce process is to divide your real and personal property. This is called division of property or property division. In California we divide property according to community property law. This means that all property that is acquired by you or your spouse during marriage will be divided between you and your spouse equally – unless it was a gift, inheritance, or was acquired before marriage. In most divorces, the division of property will probably include a division of the family residence, bank accounts, retirement accounts, debts, and vehicles. More complex divorce matters will include a division of other real property, multiple bank accounts, retirement accounts, stock options, patents, copyrights, royalties, and one or more businesses. More complex matters can also involve a division of work efforts you have put into your separate property, or proceeds of a loan taken out during marriage.
There are various exceptions to the equal division rule. For example, in some cases education loans are assigned to the party that incurred the debt. In cases where there are more debts than assets, the court can divide the community estate unequally. Certain personal injury awards are not divided equally. Social security benefits are not divided at all and are subject to federal law.
When people go about the task of property division they often disagree about the value of certain property. In some cases they differ about the date property should be valued. They also fail to consider potential tax consequences in arriving at a fair division of the property.
Walzer Melcher has the expertise to handle the division of assets in simple and complex cases. While most of our cases are settled out of court through negotiation, we are prepared to litigate issues that cannot be resolved between the parties. For more information regarding property division, please call us to set up a consultation.