PROPERTY DIVISION IN CALIFORNIA: WHO GETS THE BEACH HOUSE?
During divorce proceedings, property divisions can be one of the most complex and contested issues you have to handle. For example, determining the value of the property in question can require multiple appraisals.
In order to ensure that your interests are protected during property division, it is advisable to seek the counsel of an attorney experienced with high assets divorces.
California divides property based on the community property method. This means that the court considers property that is acquired during the marriage to be divided between you and your spouse. Items you have received as gifts or property that you inherited are not considered community property and are exempt from the division.
In California, you and your spouse have the right to determine how your property is distributed. The major caveat here is that it must be done in a way that both of you agree is fair and the agreement must be signed off on by a judge.
The agreement requires court authorization in order to ensure that both parties agree to the terms without being under duress. Also, each of you should end up with approximately the same value in property once a distribution has been agreed upon.
One of the first things you can do to determine the value of your assets is to make a list of everything that you own. From this list, you should be able to determine what classifies as separate property (gifts, inheritances) and what is considered to be community property.
The next task will be to figure out what the fair market value is of the jointly owned property. In order to get a fair valuation, it is recommended to use at least two different neutral valuation professionals. If there is a significant difference between the two valuations, you may need to bring in a third appraiser in order to get an accurate determination.
Property outside California
If you and your spouse purchased property outside of the state of California, such as a vacation home located in a non-community property state, the asset will still be treated as community property and subject to the rules of fair division.
Dividing debt as the result of a divorce can be more complicated than it sounds. One of the issues that people fail to recognize is that the lenders do not have to honor your property division agreement. This means that if your spouse fails to make payments on a credit card for which he or she agreed to take responsibility, the lender can then turn to you for payment.
The divorce process can be a difficult time for anyone and if you own extensive property, the last thing you want to do is to leave things to chance. If you are heading into a high net worth divorce make sure your interests are protected. Reach out to an experienced California divorce attorney today.