Wealth that California spouses acquired together is equally divided. One party may also have a community property interest in the marital appreciation of the other spouse’s separately owned property.Schoenberg Family Law Group, P.C., addresses separate property appreciation, commingling of separate property, and several other complex property division issues. Our lawyers routinely handle high net worth divorces in San Francisco and throughout the Bay Area.
A Community Interest In Separately Owned Assets?
Under community property doctrine, each spouse is entitled to half of the marital assets acquired during their marriage. The more complicated issue is a 401(k) or a business venture held in one spouse’s name and acquired before marriage. Although the core asset is not community property, the subsequent appreciation in value may be.
Our legal team successfully litigates disputes over separate property appreciation, with experience in both asserting the community property claim and defending the separate asset. We address the characterization and valuation of any separate property asset, such as:
- Retirement accounts that began before marriage
- Premarital real estate
- Vintage cars
- A business or professional practice launched before marriage
- Premarital mixed portfolio
- Stock options and restricted stock units (RSUs)
- A trust or inheritance
Our firm works with professional appraisers and valuation experts to determine, for purposes of negotiation or litigation, the value of a given asset at the time you were married and the extent to which it appreciated during marriage.
Separate property appreciation does not automatically confer community property character upon an asset. The spouse seeking to transmute it into community property must prove commingling of assets, or otherwise establish a community property interest.
For example, if a couple renovated one spouse’s separately titled house during marriage, then the other spouse may be entitled to reimbursement of those expenditures, plus a half share of any subsequent appreciation in value. A court may also consider indirect contributions, such as supporting a spouse through medical school, or other sacrifices that enabled the spouse to spend more time building a successful business during the marriage.
“After hearing horror stories about other lawyers from friends who have gotten divorced over the years, I felt very fortunate to always be in charge of my case, to not be forgotten or milked for time and money, to have no major balls dropped, and to have a law firm that was so responsive to my questions and concerns.”
— L.S. (More testimonials from our clients.)
Asserting Or Defending Claims For Appreciation
Debra R. Schoenberg is a Certified* Family Law Specialist and an accomplished trial lawyer. All of our attorneys practice exclusively in family law, and we regularly address these legally and technically complicated issues in the division of marital assets.
Are you entitled to a percentage of the appreciation of your spouse’s separate property? Is your spouse making unfounded claims against your separately owned assets? Contact us online, or call us at 415.834.1120.
* Certified in Family Law by the State Bar of California Board of Legal Specialization.