Irvine Property Division Lawyer2021-12-03T14:27:22+00:00

Divorce involves many complex issues, and your divorce order is likely to impact your life in multiple ways for many years to come. One of the most contentious issues in a California divorce is property division, the process of splitting a married couple’s community property and dividing it equally between the divorcing spouses. California’s community property law is extremely strict, and there are various steps both parties must complete when it comes to finalizing this process.

Irvine Community Property 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.

Legal Counsel for Irvine, CA, Property Division Proceedings

The Law Offices of Dorie A. Rogers has years of experience handling the most complex divorce cases in the Irvine, CA, area on behalf of our clients, and we are ready to apply this vast experience to your property division case. It’s natural to have some misconceptions and unrealistic expectations about how property division will unfold in your divorce case. Our goal is to help you understand your legal options and what to expect as your case unfolds so you can approach the situation with understanding and confidence.

Do I Really Need an Irvine Property Division Lawyer?

Property division is just one aspect of the divorce process in California. While you may believe you can handle your divorce case without an attorney, this is never a good idea. Even if you and your spouse are on relatively agreeable terms and believe you can reach a mutually agreeable property division determination unassisted by an attorney, you face several challenges if you attempt to handle property division proceedings without reliable legal counsel.

First, you would need to handle all of your case’s procedural requirements completely unassisted by an attorney. This means that you would not only be responsible for court filings and all the preliminary steps your divorce will entail, but you would also have to accomplish these tasks while managing your everyday responsibilities to your career and your family. Hiring an experienced Irvine property division attorney will provide you with much-needed flexibility and reassurance during a challenging time in your life, allowing you to enjoy peace of mind knowing your case is in trustworthy hands.

Another reason to hire an experienced Irvine property division attorney to represent you is that you could unintentionally make serious errors with your financial disclosure, potentially leading to significantly longer legal proceedings or an improperly configured divorce settlement. In addition, your attorney will know how to complete your property division disclosure accurately and guide you through each phase of the divorce process, likely securing a much more favorable outcome than you could have managed alone.

California’s Community Property Law

It’s essential to understand California’s community property law before your divorce begins. Under this law, all property and assets gained during the marriage become community property. This includes income earned by both spouses, contributions to shared investment accounts, real property purchased by either spouse using community funds, and many other types of property a couple might acquire during the marriage. Similarly, community property also applies to debts. Unless the couple has a premarital contract with clear terms regarding debts acquired during the marriage, any debt incurred by either spouse during their marriage likely qualifies as community property, and both spouses will share responsibility for the debt.

California’s community property law requires an exact 50/50 division of all marital property and debts in any divorce, regardless of the reason for the divorce. Many people mistakenly assume that if they file for divorce with cause, such as their spouse’s infidelity, they will gain a more significant share of community property in a divorce. This is not the case, and while prenuptial contracts can and do influence divorce outcomes, they may only do so under the provisions of California’s community property law.

What Are the Five Stages of Property Division?

Property division is a complicated process, and the family court system expects both spouses to provide complete and accurate financial records at the outset of this process. Generally, the court will complete five steps to reach a property division determination in any divorce case:

  1. Identify all property owned by the divorcing spouses. Both spouses must complete a financial disclosure statement that includes all necessary records of their separate and community property. It’s essential to be accurate in financial disclosure. Any errors or omissions can significantly extend the time required to complete a divorce.
  2. Classify all assets and property as marital property or separate property. California law allows divorcing spouses to retain ownership of separate property, typically including any assets and property a spouse owned before their marriage. This can include gifts and inheritance, but some separate property can “transmute” to community property under certain conditions. For example, if you owned a home before marriage but your spouse contributed to renovations that significantly increased its value, the home would likely qualify as community property due to transmutation.
  3. Calculate the spouse’s shared debts. The court will also evaluate all debts held by the divorcing spouses as a couple and individually. These are divided similarly to marital property and separate property. Separate debts remain the responsibilities of the spouses who held them before marrying, and community debts may be resolved by liquidating marital property, or the divorcing spouses may agree to a payment plan going forward.
  4. Appraise the value of all property. Finally, the court must formally review the total value of every piece of property and every asset listed in the spouses’ financial disclosure statements. This includes potential tax implications and early withdrawal fees attached to specific assets.
  5. Divide community property and debts equally. Once the court has thoroughly reviewed all the necessary information, they will deliver a property division determination. They may distribute assets equally, but the couple will likely need to liquidate certain assets and split the proceeds.

Facing a property division determination in divorce litigation means the final say is entirely in the hands of the judge handling the case. An alternative is divorce mediation, which is essentially private settlement negotiation for divorce. As long as both spouses are willing to try this process, mediation can allow them to have much more control over the outcome of property division. For example, they may be able to essentially exchange assets and property until they reach a mutually agreeable decision, preventing them from needing to liquidate some assets as a judge would likely require. In addition, as long as their decision aligns with California’s community property law, mediation can potentially afford the divorcing couple a much easier path to resolving property division in their divorce.

What Happens If a Spouse Lies in Property Division Proceedings?

Regardless of whether you and your spouse strive for alternative dispute resolution or end up in litigation to settle your divorce, both of you need to be truthful when it comes to financial disclosure. While it’s understandable for some divorcing individuals to make honest mistakes in gathering their financial records, deliberate attempts to hide assets to shield them from property division will have significant repercussions for anyone who attempts this.

If you believe your spouse has hidden assets, consult your Irvine property division lawyer about your concerns. They may be able to consult a financial expert such as a forensic accountant who can help you determine whether your spouse has been truthful in their financial disclosure. For example, suppose an investigation reveals that a divorcing spouse has knowingly lied in financial disclosure. In that case, this will not only cause the judge overseeing the case to look unfavorably toward that individual in subsequent proceedings, but that spouse may also face criminal prosecution, including contempt of court, fraud, or perjury. In addition, financial disclosure is a sworn statement, so knowingly hiding assets qualifies as lying under oath.

What to Expect From the Law Offices of Dorie A. Rogers

Property division can be difficult for many reasons. For example, if you and your spouse own substantial assets, it’s natural for both of you to strive to secure your financial futures and obtain as much as possible from your divorce agreement. However, suppose you have complex investments and business assets. In that case, property division can become even more difficult, and you could face a very prolonged property division process depending on the unique details of your situation. Ultimately, no matter what your property division case entails, it is much easier to approach this demanding situation with reliable legal counsel on your side.

The Law Offices of Dorie A. Rogers have years of experience guiding Irvine, CA, clients through complex property division proceedings. We can help you complete the financial disclosure process to ensure you do not incur criminal penalties for lying under oath and that your property division determination is as fair and reasonable as possible under California state law. We can also help you determine your best legal options for approaching your overarching divorce case, such as taking advantage of the benefits of alternative dispute resolution. Ultimately, our goal is to help you navigate property division proceedings with clarity and confidence. If you are preparing to divorce in Irvine, CA, we can help. Contact the Law Offices of Dorie A. Rogers today and schedule a consultation with a compassionate and reliable Irvine property division lawyer.

“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.

Blog

Go to Top