If you are considering a divorce, one of the main issues that you will need to work through is property division. If you and your spouse can divide your property and debts together, you may be able to keep your divorce case from going to trial. Working with an experienced Redwood City property division attorney from Schoenberg Family Law Group, P.C., could help you reach a settlement. If not, your attorney can represent you at trial for optimal results. Learn more about how property and debt division works in California to better understand what to expect.
Why Choose Us
- Our goal is to keep every divorce case as simple, efficient and amicable as possible. We provide effective advocacy both in and out of court.
- Attorney Debra R. Schoenberg is a certified family law specialist. This means she has received additional education and training in family law.
- Our family lawyers in Redwood City commonly represent high net worth and high-profile divorce cases. We can overcome any unique legal challenge that may be involved in your case.
How a Property Division Lawyer in Redwood City Can Help
Working with a qualified and experienced property division attorney in Redwood City can increase the odds of achieving a successful settlement agreement. This can allow you and your spouse to remain in control of how your marital debts and assets are divided. It can also save your family a great deal of time, money and stress by avoiding a court trial. Your attorney can handle the legal elements of your case while you focus on your family and future. It is especially important to hire an attorney if you have complex or high-value assets.
How Does the Division of Property Work in a California Divorce?
Couples going through a divorce in California must decide how to divide their property and debts, or else the matter will go before a court and a judge will decide for them. The California courts offer advice to couples on how to divide their own property and debts to avoid a divorce trial. If the couple cannot achieve a settlement agreement, the courts will use a community property law to determine the division of debts and assets.
A community property law views a married couple as its own community, where both partners own equal shares of marital debts and assets. When the courts divide community property, they split it evenly down the middle. In an equitable division state, on the other hand, the courts divide property based on what is fair for each spouse according to factors such as their income, earning potential and how much they contributed to the marriage.
How Are Debts Divided in a Divorce Case?
In California, debts are divided the same way as assets or property – a 50/50 split between both spouses. It will not matter if one spouse is responsible for a greater portion of the debt; both will be given an equal share of marital debt in a divorce case. Like assets, however, the courts will only touch community debts. Community property is obtained during the marriage. Separate property, on the other hand, is obtained before the marriage (or given as a gift or inheritance to one spouse during the marriage). The courts will not divide separate property in a divorce case in California.
What Is Community Property?
When a couple gets married in California, the law views it as the creation of their own community. From that moment on, any property, assets and debts acquired by either spouse in the marriage are classified as community property, with some exceptions. Common examples of community property are:
- Real estate or land
- A home or vacation home
- A mortgage
- Home furnishings
- Personal property and physical possessions
- Appliances and electronics
- Artwork and valuable collectibles
- A business
- Wages earned by either spouse
- Savings or retirement accounts
- Pension plans
- Stocks and bonds
- Interest earned on investments or assets
- Debts, including credit card debt and personal loans
- IRS tax debt
Everything classified as community or marital property will be divided in half during a divorce case in California, with 50 percent going to one spouse and 50 percent to the other. It will not matter who brought the asset into the marriage, who spent more money acquiring something, who used it more or who wants it in the divorce. If your case goes to trial in California, all community property gets split in half.
What Is Separate Property?
Separate property is not divided down the middle between two spouses in a divorce case. The courts do not have the right to touch separate property in California. Separate property refers to:
- Property owned or acquired by one spouse before the marriage.
- Property that was given to one spouse during the marriage by gift, descent or inheritance.
- Appreciation or profits gained from separate property.
If you wish to keep property that you own separate from the community after getting married, avoid commingling. Commingling means combining separate assets into a single fund or vehicle. For example, keep your bank accounts separate rather than combining them into a joint account to protect separate funds.
How Can You Protect Your Property During a Redwood City Divorce?
Due to California’s community property law, it is even more important to take steps to protect your assets from the possibility of going to your ex-spouse in a divorce. You can prepare far ahead of time, with legal documents signed before or right after your marriage that organize property division according to your own terms. You can also take steps to protect your hard-earned assets as much as possible even if a divorce is already in motion. Tips include:
- Using a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement
- Keeping separate property separate (not commingling assets)
- Using a transmutation agreement to change community property to separate property
- Maintaining accurate financial records
- Achieving a divorce settlement and avoiding court
- Using mediation to resolve property disputes
- Hiring an attorney to help you
It is important to protect your assets the right way during a divorce case in California. Hiding assets is not advisable and can get you into significant legal trouble. The same is true of trying to diminish the value of your assets by gifting things to others or overestimating your expenses. Making any misrepresentations of facts on your financial disclosure forms during a divorce case can lead to criminal charges against you. Instead, use a property division lawyer in Redwood City to guide you through legal ways of protecting your assets.
Benefits of Hiring a Divorce Attorney
It is important to speak to a divorce attorney about property division. This is one of the most challenging aspects of a divorce case. The outcome of your property division agreement can significantly affect your future. A Redwood City property division attorney can provide key benefits that help you achieve the best possible results. These benefits include:
- Knowledge of California divorce laws
- Correct handling of paperwork
- Divorce settlement negotiation strategies
- Creative solutions
- Representation during mediation or arbitration
- Expert assistance with property and debt division
The right divorce attorney can help you navigate the complicated area of property division. Your attorney can provide tailored legal advice that helps you achieve your goals. It is especially important to hire an attorney if you have a challenging case, such as a divorce with high-value assets, a jointly owned business or a contested divorce case.
Contact a Redwood City Property Division Attorney Today
At Schoenberg Family Law Group, P.C., we will work diligently to handle your divorce case. We will devote our attention to you, your case and your goals for property division matters. We can also help with other challenging aspects of your divorce, such as child custody and alimony. Discuss your specific needs in more detail with one of our property division attorneys in Redwood City today. Contact us to request a consultation.