Dividing property during a divorce may be an emotional and contentious process, but it does not need to be. If you are in the process of splitting up assets, it is important to consult a capable Orange County property division attorney who can assess your situation and help you understand your rights under California law. With over 20 years of experience, the divorce lawyers at the Law Offices of David P. Schwarz can advocate for your interests at every step of the way.Understanding the Property Division Process in California
Marital assets may include cash, bank accounts, real estate, retirement accounts, IRAs, 401Ks, stocks, bonds, pensions, vehicles, and personal property, such as jewellery, antiques, and other unique items. California is a community property state, which means that any assets or income acquired over the course of the marriage are divided 50/50 under the Family Code of California. This does not necessarily mean that all of the items or bank accounts need to be divided exactly in half. It simply requires that each spouse will get half of the total value of the marital property. For example, if there are two bank accounts with roughly the same amount of money in each of them, one spouse may take one account, while the other spouse takes the other account.
Separate property, on the other hand, refers to any assets that a spouse owned before the marriage, obtained during the marriage by gift or inheritance, or obtained after the spouses separated. Separate property belongs solely to one spouse and is not subject to division at the time of the divorce.
It is important to note that under California law, both spouses are liable for any debts incurred throughout the marriage as well. It does not matter which spouse actually incurred the debt. It also generally does not matter why the debt was incurred or whose name appears on the financial documents or credit card bills. Just as with assets, however, any debt incurred prior to the marriage or after the separation belongs solely to the spouse who incurred it.
California has stringent guidelines when it comes to property division during a divorce. Once you file a divorce petition and no later than 60 days after it has been served, you must serve your spouse with what is known as a Preliminary Declaration of Disclosure. This document should disclose all of the assets that are part of the marital estate, including community and separate property assets as well as the incomes, expenses, debts, and obligations of each spouse.Protect Your Interests by Consulting a Property Division Attorney in Orange County
If you are going through a divorce or anticipating a divorce, you should speak to an Orange County property division lawyer who can offer you knowledgeable legal advice. At the Law Offices of David P. Schwarz, we work closely with forensic accountants and other specialists to make sure that any hidden assets are uncovered. We represent spouses in many Southern California cities, including Mission Viejo, Laguna Hills, San Clemente, Dana Point, Lake Forest, Huntington Beach, Costa Mesa, Fullerton, Yorba Linda, Orange, Irvine, and Newport Beach. For a free appointment with a family law attorney, call us at 949-735-9266 or contact us online.