Divorce is full of many emotional components. The recognition that a relationship is ending can be difficult, and in some cases, there may be relief that there is an opportunity to begin anew. However, in between those two emotional states are the frustrations, fears, and hardships of settling all the terms of a divorce. This can include any child custody or support, spousal support, but equally important, what happens to all the “stuff” a couple has collected over the years.
Dividing assets can include many different things. This can be physical property, accumulated assets, and even the debts that they have accrued. Because there are so many varying components to property division, this is one of the most confusing, complicated, and contentious processes in any divorce.
With the help of an experienced attorney, like our team at the Law Offices of Dorie A. Rogers, APC, you can get the help you need to navigate this process and reach the best possible outcome.
Fullerton Practice Areas
Law Offices of Dorie A. Rogers for Fullerton’s Property Division
When it comes to hiring any type of attorney, you want to work with someone you can trust. Dorie A. Rogers is not only one of Fullerton’s most trusted attorneys, but she also has over three decades of experience in working in the world of the law. In addition to her extensive experience, Attorney Rogers has completed rigorous training to become a certified family law specialist by the State Bar of California—something not many other attorneys have achieved. Dorie A. Rogers and her team have dedicated their practice to helping families through difficult situations. No matter what you’re going through, don’t hesitate to reach out for compassionate and efficient legal assistance from the team at the Law Offices of Dorie A. Rogers.
Property Division in California
California is a community property state which means that any assets or property that a couple has accumulated during their marriage equally belongs to both spouses. This means that the property will be divided equally between both.
The specific property that is divided is defined by law. In California, property is defined as anything that can be bought or sold or has value. Under this definition, that means everything from homes and cars to retirement accounts and even stocks.
Property is further divided into two categories.
- Community property. This is used to define what the couple owns and owes that has been collected throughout the marriage.
- Separate property. This refers to any gifts, inheritances, or what a spouse owned or owed before they were married or after separation.
To determine the rightful owner of a property, legal dates of acquisition of the property are necessary. With the help of the marriage license, the date of marriage is easier to determine, but separation can be more complicated. To determine the date of separation, the day one spouse told the other they wish to dissolve the marriage must be known, and the date that actions are exhibited that indicate that the marriage is ending. This could be the day one spouse moves out or the day both spouses reach an agreement to end the marriage.
Once that date is determined, anything that is acquired, earned, or owed individually is no longer considered community property. Community property is anything that was earned by either spouse during the marriage, anything purchased during the marriage, and any debt that was accumulated during the marriage. This excludes any inheritances or gifts that were received.
Under community property laws, it does not matter whose money specifically purchased the item. If it was acquired while married, it is community property. For example, if a spouse saved the earnings from their paycheck throughout the year and then bought a car using the money they saved from their check alone, it is still community property because it was acquired during the marriage.
There are situations where community property and separate property coincide. For example, if one partner had a job before the marriage in which they enjoyed the benefit of a 401k, and they still had that job after they were married and were contributing to the same 401k, then what they contributed prior to the separation is separate property and what they contributed during the marriage is community property.
Dividing Your Property and Debts
The division of property in California is pretty simple and straightforward. It comes down to the basics. If the property is separate property, it stays that way. If the property is community property, then it is equally divided between both spouses.
If, however, the spouses are able to come to terms that differ, the court will take that into consideration, as well. They will want to make sure the division is fair, however.
Other circumstances can also impact how property is divided. Situations that could change the split include:
Some of the most common communal properties include:
- Agreements that couples make, such as a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement that predefine specific assets, should remain separate.
- If there is a high discrepancy in earnings, spouses may agree to different terms to ensure one spouse is not left “broke.”
There is often high contention in the division of assets that is centered around the earnings of each spouse. If one spouse feels they were a larger contributor, they may feel it is unfair that the other spouse is equally entitled to their assets. However, there are other considerations to be made in families that are not measured with a monetary value. This could include if one parent was a stay-at-home parent that was responsible for taking care of the family.
Splitting a Business
Businesses that spouses may own together are also considered assets that need to be split. However, a business division is overly complicated with “goodwill” value which is the intangible value a business has. Unfortunately, that means it must take into consideration the future value of the business based on the reputation the business has gained.
Businesses do not, however, have to be run by both spouses. As long as one spouse runs the business, then there is the value that must be considered. This can be another contentious point because if one spouse runs the business and the other has not been a major contributor to the business’s monetary success, it can be another point of “unfairness.” However, like income, the support provided by one spouse for the other to spend their time, energy, and resources to expand the business is equally important in its overall success.
Splitting the Home
A home that a couple has purchased and put energy and money into is one of the most important assets to be divided. In an ideal situation, the couple will determine between them who will get the home and balance that with other assets. However, if left to a court to decide, a home may be given to the spouse, who will retain primary custody of any children. Just as a couple would try to balance the assets by considering the value of the home, so too will a court.
Property Division Attorney FAQs:
Q: How Do You Separate Property in California?
A: Property in California is divided in two ways. First, it is determined to be community or separate property. That indicates if it was acquired during the marriage or if it came before that time or after separation. Then, the assets and debts are divided into a 50/50 balance between both spouses. Because California is a community property state, there is no distinction between whose money purchased the items or which individual contributed to the overall debt.
Q: What Is the 10-Year Rule in California?
A: The ten-year rule impacts the spousal support one spouse may be awarded in the divorce. A marriage of ten years or more is considered a long-term marriage. If a spouse is awarded spousal support, they could receive long-term spousal support. Comparatively, if the marriage lasts less than ten years, spousal support could be awarded for half the length of the marriage.
Q: How Is Community Property Divided in a Divorce in California?
A: In community property division, there is first a determination of which assets and debts belong to the couple. Those are the ones accumulated during the course of the marriage. Then, those assets are divided 50/50 between the spouses. If any debt or assets are accumulated prior to the marriage or after the determined date of separation, then that property is retained by the individual who accumulated it. Under community property laws, the earned income from both spouses does not matter, as both spouses are entitled to the assets and the debts.
Q: Is Property Split 50/50 in California?
A: Yes, property is divided 50/50 in Fullerton, California. The only exceptions are if the spouses come to a mutually fair agreement without the assistance of the court or if there is a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement that outlines how specific assets will be divided. However, as a community property state, California law seeks to create a fair division of all the property between spouses.
Fullerton Property Division Lawyer
Divorce can be a complicated, emotional, and confusing process that can leave you with more questions than answers. However, with the help and support of the experienced and knowledgeable attorneys at the Law Offices of Dorie A. Rogers, APC, we will provide you with the answers to your questions to ensure that you receive the best possible outcome. The debts and assets that you and your spouse have accumulated throughout the course of your marriage are a representation of the life you built together. As your divorce allows you the opportunity to start fresh with new opportunities, you are also entitled to retain some of your past.
If you are facing a divorce, contact our offices today and let our attorneys give you the representation that you deserve.
“Dorie is a very powerful attorney and a great asset to have on your side in any family legal matter. She is extremely bright and insightful, and I got everything I asked for in my lawsuit.”
“I would strongly recommend Ms. Dorie Rogers for any legal needs. During my Divorce proceedings, Dorie’s professionalism, expertise in Divorce Law and legal skill helped bring my case to a close in both a timely and mutually agreeable manner.
Additionally, Dorie took the time to understand me and my background to better represent me in my case. She showed a level of caring and concern that helped me through a very difficult time. She is an outstanding lawyer and wonderful person.”
“Second to none – I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend Dorie to anyone. She was my attorney for my divorce and custody case. She will do everything it takes to get the job done and all with a smile on her face. Her knowledge and expertise will assist anyone in a family law situation get the results they want.”
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