Looking Out For You When Dividing Community Property
Property division is often the most complicated part of any divorce. Even if you and your spouse have an amicable split, you still may not understand how to go about dividing your marital assets. You will need a trusted divorce attorney to help you navigate the rules and look out for your best interest.
I am family law attorney Paula J. Goforth, and I have over 20 years of experience guiding clients through the difficult maze of marital property division during divorce. I also help unmarried couples who are splitting up and need help dividing their combined assets in a Marvin Action. If you are looking for a caring lawyer who will take the time to explain your options, come to Goforth Family Law & Mediation. I am certified by the California State Board of Legal Specialization as a legal specialist in the area of family law.
Understanding California’s Community Property Laws
California is a community property state, which means that courts will divide marital property evenly between divorcing spouses. Although that sounds like a simple enough concept, the confusion often comes in deciding what constitutes marital property. Marital property includes anything a couple acquired, earned or bought during the marriage. This can include debts as well as assets. There are a couple of exceptions to this rule, including anything received as a gift or inheritance.
The court will view nonmarital assets as separate property, which you will likely be able to keep. Separate property includes assets you owned prior to the marriage. Be aware, however, that if you comingled your separate property with your marital property, your spouse may have a partial claim. For example, if you purchased your house with your own down payment before you were married, but you continued to pay the mortgage during your marriage, your spouse may have a claim to a certain interest in the house.
Untangling Complicated Finances
As you can see from the example above, property division can become complicated quickly. Other examples of complex property division issues include:
- Business ownership or interests
- Retirement accounts, pensions and annuities
- Real estate investments
- High-value assets
- Debts incurred by one party
You should both understand the proper approach for dividing these assets before you enter negotiations. That way, you are more likely to come to a mutual understanding of the best method for division in your situation. If you have a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement, I can explain how it will affect the process.
Financial Support Moving Forward
If you have children, you will have to address the issue of child support. The court will not approve a dissolution agreement that fails to provide for a child’s financial needs. California’s support guidelines will give you a good idea of what the court expects from both parents. I will review these guidelines with you to make sure your agreement will meet the court’s expectations regarding both financial support and your custody and visitation agreement.
In certain cases, alimony, also known as spousal support, could be relevant. Judges look at many factors when deciding whether to grant alimony. I can help you determine whether your case is a likely candidate for either temporary or long-term spousal support.
Bring Your Property Questions To Me
If you are looking for answers, reach out to me to schedule an appointment. You may call my office in Carlsbad at 760-857-5427 or send me an online message. I serve clients throughout San Diego County and the surrounding areas.