Property division must be taken seriously
Property division is something that affects most marriages. California is considered a community property state, which means that all property acquired during the marriage belongs to both spouses. When a divorce occurs, the property must be equitably distributed. This does not mean that the property will necessarily be split equally between spouses. Rather, the division of property must be fair for both sides and as equal as possible.
Most divorcing couples have varying types of assets that will need to be separated. This can include the following:
- The marital home
- Secondary or vacation homes
- Any other real estate
- Retirement accounts, pensions, IRAs, 401(k)s
- Stocks, bonds, mutual funds
- Vehicles, RVs, and boats
- Furniture, artwork, collectibles
Some couples only have a few assets that need to be divided, while other cases are much more complex. Properly dividing assets may require that one spouse buy the other out. It could also mean that the property must be sold and the proceeds split between the two parties.
The exception to property division is any property considered “separate.” For this to be the case, the property would have to have been acquired before the marriage and not commingled with marital assets. Inheritances and gifts acquired by one spouse during the marriage are also considered separate property.
Any debts that were acquired during the course of the marriage will also need to be divided. This can include the following:
- Credit cards
- Tax debt
- Personal loans
- Installment loans
- Automobile loans
- Student loans
Division of Community Property in Westlake Village: What You Can’t Do
Understanding the nuances of property division when getting a divorce can be challenging. Enlisting the help of a qualified Westlake Village property division attorney is one easy way to avoid confusion.
For example, there are certain actions you cannot take in regard to community property when you are getting a divorce. Your Westlake Village property division lawyer will explain this topic in greater detail if you have any questions about it.
For example, under California law, when two spouses are getting a divorce, neither one can sell or give away any piece of community property without first getting clear permission from the other spouse to do so. Additionally, neither spouse can borrow against a piece of community property after a petition for divorce has been filed.
Keep in mind that a judge will be legally required to participate in the allocation of community property. A prenuptial agreement or other such qualifying written agreement must be in place to avoid this requirement.
There are even some limited but nevertheless significant restrictions put in place on transactions involving separate property once divorce proceedings have begun. Specifically, there may be restrictions regarding the sale of real estate that is separately-owned until the divorce has been finalized.
Separate Property Becoming Community Property: A Westlake Village Property Defense Attorney Explains
Pieces of separate property may not be considered separate property permanently if two spouses do not wish them to be. It is possible to turn a piece of separate property into a piece of community property by changing the title of the property.
This is another complexity which you need to be aware of and understand if you end up getting a divorce. When your marriage was new or it was still going well, you might have felt comfortable turning a piece of separate property into a piece of community property. However, now that you are getting a divorce, you might not wish to have done so, given that now this property will be included in the allocation of community property proceedings.
However, for separate property to have been turned into community property in a means that is considered legally valid, the agreement to change the title or add a spouse’s name to the title must be in writing. There is theoretically a possibility that you didn’t properly turn your separate property into community property because you didn’t correctly draft and file the necessary written documents. While this would have technically qualified as a mistake at the time you thought you were turning separate property into community property, it could be seen as beneficial now that you are getting a divorce, because a Westlake Village property division lawyer could show that the property in question doesn’t legally qualify as community property.
On the other hand, perhaps your spouse is arguing that community property is separate property, when you know that’s not the case because you legally turned it into community property in the past. In this instance, your lawyer could help you by showing you properly and officially altered the property’s status.
Of course, ideally, these types of disputes regarding whether property does or does not qualify as community property will be avoided when spouses are divorcing one another. This highlights another reason to coordinate with a Westlake Village property division law firm in these circumstances. They may be able to help couples avoid these disputes from the start.
Mediation could be an option
When dividing assets, one option we offer is family law mediation. Using a mediator could provide you with a less emotional and more affordable way to get through this process. However, mediation only works if both spouses wish to keep the matter out of court and are able to reach an agreement amicably.
It is time to get help for your divorce
Going through a divorce is stressful and complicated, particularly when it comes to the division or property. You should always have a skilled attorney by your side, and the team at the Law Offices of Ronald K. Stitch is ready to help. We will handle all aspects of your divorce case and work to ensure you are treated fairly. Property division may require extensive investigation, and we will deploy all of our resources for your case. Our Westlake Village property division attorneys have a deep understanding of these cases, so you can contact us for a free consultation by clicking here or by calling 818-237-4574.