Experienced Property Division Attorneys Serving Marin County, CA
Property division is one of the most complex aspects of getting a divorce. It refers to how a couple will allocate all the property, income, and assets acquired throughout a marriage — including real estate, vehicles, savings, and debts. Many couples dispute how they will divide property during the dissolution of marriage. Whether this will be a contested aspect of your divorce will depend on the circumstances. Our Marin County property division lawyer will assist you throughout the legal process.
If property division is a point of contention in your divorce case, hiring a lawyer can be critical for protecting your rights and receiving your fair share of assets. A Marin property division lawyer will understand California’s related laws and how to help you achieve the desired outcome. Contact Schoenberg Family Law Group today to learn more about how we can help with property division during your divorce case.
What to Expect From Schoenberg Family Law Group, P.C.
When you choose Schoenberg Family Law Group, P.C., you get a highly experienced attorney on your side for property division.
Attorney Debra R. Schoenberg (CFLS) has spent many years practicing family law in California. She and her legal team have the knowledge, experience, and resources to handle your property division case, no matter how complex. With attention to detail and a commitment to client care, you will receive the highest quality legal services available with our property division lawyers.
How Do the California Courts Handle Property Division in Marin County?
There are two types of property division states in the US: community property and equitable division. California is the less common type — a community property state. According to California’s community property law, both people in a marriage or domestic partnership own equal shares of all community property gained during the union. This means that in a standard divorce case in California, a judge will split everything down the middle.
In a community property state, a divorce judge will order a 50/50 division of all assets, properties and debts a couple acquired while married — even if a 50/50 split is not fair or equitable for both parties. In an equitable division state, on the other hand, a judge will divide property based on what is fair according to the circumstances of the couple, such as each partner’s financial state. It is important to understand the concepts of community property, separate property and property division as a party in a divorce case in Marin so you can protect yourself.
Community Property vs. Separate Property in Marin
The California courts will only divide community property. They will not touch property the law classifies as separate. Separate property is anything you acquired before the marriage, such as property you owned prior to getting married or a savings account that is only in your name. Separate property also refers to gifts or inheritance given directly to you and not your spouse during the marriage. Community property refers to everything acquired after the marriage. This can include:
- Real property
- Art and collectibles
- Family heirlooms
- Bank accounts
- Retirement savings
- Stocks, bonds and investments
Keeping your property classified as separate during your marriage can help you achieve a desirable property division outcome in a divorce case. For example, you can protect your hard-earned assets by creating an agreement with your spouse to classify certain assets as seperate or using a prenuptial agreement. Work with a Marin property division lawyer from the very beginning of your marriage to fully protect your property rights. A lawyer can help you reduce your financial risks by navigating community vs. separate property on your behalf, as well as planning ahead with a prenup.
How to Divide Your Property in a California Divorce Case
You should always attempt property division on your own (or with an attorney) before taking your case to trial. Take the following steps to divide your property during a divorce or legal separation in Marin:
- Start by creating a full and comprehensive list of your assets and debts. You will need to provide full financial disclosures during a divorce case. Create a master list of everything that you and your spouse own together (your community property). Don’t leave anything out, including any offshore accounts. You don’t want to be accused of hiding assets.
- Calculate the market value of each piece of property and put it next to the item on the list. You may need assistance from a financial expert for some of these valuations, such as determining the value of a business or the appreciation of an asset. Do not include any separate property on your list, such as personal inheritances or gifts.
- Your spouse should also create a list of assets and debts. Then, you should both compare lists to make sure nothing gets left out. This process is tedious, but it is necessary for successful property division.
- Attempt to negotiate a property division settlement. Whether or not this is possible depends on the value and complexity of your assets, as well as the willingness of both parties to work together and compromise. It can help to consider a form of alternative dispute resolution to work through any legal disputes. Many couples find it easier to reach a property division settlement agreement with assistance from an unbiased third party, such as a mediator.
- When it comes to determining who gets what, start by deciding the logical owner of each item on your list. You can make this decision based on who purchased the item, who used it the most, or if there is another good reason for the piece of property to belong to one spouse or the other. Start with your most valuable items and see how far you get.
- Don’t forget about your marital debt. Divide this between the two of you as evenly or fairly as possible. You may be able to use debt as a bargaining chip. For example, you could offer to take on more of the marital debt in exchange for a piece of property that you want, such as the family home, if this is fair to you.
- When you are ready, draft a settlement agreement that lists the owner of each asset and debt. Bring the agreement to an attorney for a review before submitting it to the courts in Marin.
A judge will typically sign off on a property division plan as long as one spouse does not receive significantly less community property than the other. Remember, if you cannot agree with your spouse on how to handle all of your marital property, your case will go to trial.
What If You Have a High-Asset Divorce Case in Marin County?
A high-asset divorce means you and your spouse have acquired valuable or high-worth belongings during your marriage, such as high-value properties, businesses or automobiles. You have more at stake in a high-asset divorce, as you could stand to lose more money or property to your spouse if the matter goes to court.
An experienced property division lawyer can help you protect your fair share of valuable assets and safeguard you from taking on a large portion of your spouse’s debts by increasing the odds of a settlement outside of court. A lawyer can represent you during meetings and mediation to improve communication with your spouse and achieve an agreement that works for both of you — before a judge intervenes.
The best way to protect yourself within a high-asset marriage is creating a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement. This legal document can grant you ownership of more than 50% of your community property, or over the assets that matter the most to you, despite California’s community property law. If you do not have this type of agreement, a lawyer can still represent you during a divorce case to increase your chances of a fair resolution.
What Can a Marin Property Division Lawyer Do for You?
A mistake many couples in California make is attempting to divide property alone, without assistance from lawyers. They assume there is nothing they can do to change the outcome of property division due to California’s 50/50 community property law. However, hiring a Marin property division attorney can help you in many ways, including facilitating a compromise with your ex-spouse to achieve a settlement that differs from a 50/50 split. Use an attorney for the best possible outcome for your dissolution. An attorney can:
- Help you understand California’s community property laws. Your lawyer can answer your legal questions and guide you through the processes it will take to resolve your divorce case, providing peace of mind during a hard time.
- Orchestrate divorce mediation. Mediation can be the best way for your family to save time and money during a divorce. A lawyer can represent you during divorce mediation in Marin to protect your property by improving the chances of reaching a settlement.
- Provide a sophisticated analysis of your unique situation to determine the correct strategy. We can handle any financial complications, including business valuations, retirement portfolios, the transmutation of assets, deferred compensation, trusts, tax considerations, bankruptcy and Qualified Domestic Relations Orders.
- Establish your property rights from the start. If you are engaged or recently married and wish to preserve your property rights in the event of a divorce, use an attorney to create a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement. These legal documents can control property division for you from the beginning of your union.
If your divorce case does end up going to trial in California, your lawyer can represent you to make sure your ex does not infringe upon your property rights. A lawyer can present your side of the case to a judge on your behalf. Most divorce cases in Marin, however, can successfully settle with professional legal assistance. Your lawyer can help you create and fight for a fair property division plan while achieving the most efficient legal process possible.
Speak to a Marin County Property Division Lawyer Today
Property division is a difficult matter in California, especially with the state’s uncommon community property law. You are at risk of splitting everything with your spouse 50/50 — even if you were the main breadwinner during the marriage. The Marin property division lawyers at Schoenberg Family Law Group can stand by you to protect your assets using proven and aggressive legal strategies. We can save you time, money and stress with a personalized solution. Learn more about how we can help you with your divorce or separation today. Call (415) 213-2651 or contact us online to speak to a property division attorney near you.