The divorce process can be a long and painful one. The stress of dividing family property between two spouses is an additional burden that can make the process even more complicated. Many couples divorcing may assume they can weather these difficulties on their own, especially if the split is an amicable one. However, it can be difficult to determine how to fairly divide marital assets. Hiring an attorney to help you weather the divorce process and to ensure your joint property is fairly distributed is a vital step toward resuming your life as quickly and easily as possible after the split.
If my divorce is in California, how does that affect me?
California is one of the nine states in the US that are classified as Community Property states. This means that the property and assets acquired during the marriage belong to both spouses. The family home, any other jointly owned property, cars, and businesses all fall under the category of community assets. Also included are the income earned during the marriage, as well as retirement savings, pension plans, and other employee benefits. During a divorce in a community property state, the value of the property will be divided equally among both spouses.
Anything that was the property of either spouse before the marriage occurred remains the sole property of that spouse – such as a business that the wife had started before marrying, or a vacation home the husband had previously purchased. Also, inheritance or gifts given to one spouse do not qualify as community property. In some cases, an agreement signed before the marriage can make a difference as to which properties either spouse is entitled to.
Does this present any difficulties?
It can be difficult to determine the value to be divided if the property owned by one spouse before the marriage generates income or assets that were shared during the marriage. For example, the wife’s business was partially managed by her husband and the income generated went into furnishing and maintaining their home. Or an inheritance received by the husband was used to pay down their joint mortgage. This is a tricky legal process that will require an attorney to untangle, in order to fairly benefit both parties involved and to ensure that the sole owner of the property does not end up losing his or her assets.
How can I ensure my interests are protected?
Divorce is emotionally devastating enough without the added worry of trying to figure out what you’re entitled to receiving. If there are minor children from the marriage, it’s even more important that the process goes as smoothly as possible without the added bitterness that can stem from a property battle. If you’re concerned about community property laws, get in touch with the Law Offices of Torrence L. Howell.