Huntington Beach Property Division Lawyer2022-06-12T22:40:14+00:00

When a marriage ends in divorce, California law requires an equitable division of property and debt between spouses. In California, any property and income acquired by either spouse during a marriage are considered jointly owned property, which includes contributions to retirement accounts. If a couple cannot agree on how to divide jointly owned assets themselves, the courtintervenes and determines what they consider to be a fair division of property. Whether your case is solved outside of court or with the help of a judge, having an experienced property division lawyer on your side is beneficial.

Huntington Beach Community Property Division Lawyers

Under state law, your property and assets may fall under four different categories. Understanding these categories and how they affect your division of property can help you understand what to expect. The property categories are:

  • Community: Property acquired during your marriage.
  • Quasi-community: Property acquired and held outside of California.
  • Separate: Property established as belonging to one person.
  • Commingled: A combination of community and separate property.

Tracing Assets

When preparing for divorce, it is important to gain an accurate value of your property. We can use forensic accountants to evaluate all of your property to determine which assets or property belong in each category. This helps provide a clearer picture of the value and division possibilities.

Property Categories in California

Understanding the difference between two types of property categories recognized in California is important before attempting to divide property between spouses. Separate property and debts are what you came into the marriage with individually or what you obtained after separating. Gifts and inheritance can also be counted as separately owned property. Community property, on the other hand, is what you came to own or owe during your marriage. In general, any property obtained during the marriage is considered community property, regardless of which spouse physically purchased the item.

Examples of community property include:

  • Contributions made to a retirement account while you were married are community property in California. If you began building your account prior to marriage, the contributions made before the date of your marriage would be considered separate property.
  • If you purchased a fishing boat during your marriage and usethe money you earned while married, the boat is considered community property, even if your spouse does not use it.

Examples of separate property include:

  • After separating, your spouse goes on a cruise to celebrate the new chapter in their life and charges the expenses to a credit card. This is separate property (in this case, debt) that they are responsible for repaying since you were separated at the time the debt was incurred.
  • You inherit a classic car from your uncle during your marriage, which is considered separate property. You sold the car and purchased a brand-new vehicle with the profits. The new car is still considered separate property, despite purchasing it during your marriage, because it was paid for with funds from the inherited gift you received.

The Property Division Process

Once you understand the distinction between community and separate property, you can begin the process of dividing property. First, you identify all of your property and debts by creating a record of all the assets owned and debts owed by the couple and the individuals in the divorce. Next, each item must be accurately characterized as either community or separate property following California law. Last, all items must be appraised and accurately valued to help with a fair division of overall property.

Once your items have been identified, characterized, and valued, the property division process continues. Transmutation of property may come up at this point, which is when property that is classified as “separate property” is transmuted to “community property.” An example of when this may occur is if you came into the marriage with a beat-up classic car, but your spouse had a substantial hand in helping to restore it to near original condition, increasing the value significantly. In this case, a judge may determine the car is community property.

Finally, couples can start negotiating how property needs to be divided in their divorce. Mediation allows for spouses to have more control over the division of property versus leaving the decision to a judge. Even when private negotiations are successful, however, the division of property must follow California law, meaning the outcome must result in close to a 50-50 split. A judge still must approve the agreement created by the spouses outside of court. If mediation is not unsuccessful, a judge divides the assets on behalf of the divorcing couple.

Properties & Assets Division FAQs

Q: How Is Jointly Held Property Dealt With in Property Division Cases?
A:
Any property you acquire during marriage is considered community property and subject to a 50-50 split after divorce. If you have proof that it is separate property, you can claim it as such. Examples of proof include a written agreement between exes, a clear statement in the deed that it is or is not community property, or evidence in the form of a title. Gifts and inheritances a spouse receivesduring the marriage are also considered separate property.

Q: What Should You Ask When Hiring a Property Division Attorney?
A:
It is always beneficial to hire a Huntington Beach, California lawyer who specializes in the area you need assistance. Asking your potential attorney questions about their experience and expertise with property division cases is a great place to start. You can present them with your case and ask if they have handled similar cases and what the outcome of those cases was. You can also inquire about any client references they could share.

Q: What Other Areas Do Property Division Lawyers Help Clients With?
A:
Property division lawyers assist with the division of a couple’s property following divorce. Additionally, they are involved in the division of debt shared by the couple. Not only can property division attorneys represent you in court, but they can also attempt to help you avoid litigation altogether by supporting you and your ex-spouse through a negotiation process to determine how your assets and debts are divided in the split.

Q: How Much Does a Family Law Attorney Cost in California?
A:
The cost of an attorney varies significantly depending on several factors, including the complexity of your case, geographic area, and the pricing structure of the attorney. The average family lawyer cost is between $100 and $400 per hour, but it can be significantly more than that. However, getting skilled representation is likely to be worth the cost.

Speak With an Attorney to Get What You Deserve

Property division can be confusing, especially when a couple has a significant amount of community property or when parties came into the marriage with separate property. A property division attorney can assist couples in working together to create a property agreement that is fair to both parties. The legal team at the Law Offices of Dorie A. Rogers, APC has experience with complex property division cases and is ready to help you work through the difficult decisions surrounding divorce. Contact us today so we can evaluate your situation and provide you with options to get the best outcome possible.

“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.”
Brit B.
“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.”

Alan M. Greenberg
“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.”
Todd M.

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