Dividing marital property can a mine field. Even though California is a Community Property state—which means that property is divided equally between the divorcing spouses—in practice the process is rarely that simple. The good news is, a San Diego divorce attorney can help.
Defining Community Property
Community property is defined as anything that is acquired through time, effort, or skill of one or both of the parties during the marriage. Note that the definition is not limited to things that are acquired by both parties together. Generally speaking, then, any money that is made or asset that is acquired during the period of the marriage is subject to being equally divided at divorce.
Often one spouse will have an asset, such as a house, placed solely in his name. This may be done for the purposes of tax savings, or because the other spouse’s credit at marriage was poor, but the house is still community property. Neither does it matter whether one spouse earned all the household income. Any savings created during the marriage is subject to equal division, as are accrued retirement benefits.
Note that assets are only one component of community property. All debt acquired under the above definition is included as well, even if only one spouse incurred it.
Assets and Debts that Are Not Community Property
If you have concerns about losing an asset you acquired prior to your marriage, consult with a San Diego divorce attorney. As a rule, however, such an asset remains separate from community property. This is true for debts one of the spouses incurs as well.
Gifts from one spouse to another during the marriage are also normally kept separate from division.
One area of difficulty is when one spouse takes on a debt or acquires an asset after separation. The other spouse may contest that the asset was purchased by money from the community property assets. For a debt, the other spouse may be concerned that it will be included, especially if it is taken out in both spouses’ names. Generally courts will deem such a debt separate, but creditors are not likely to do so.
Call for Legal Assistance
While much of this may seem straightforward, division of assets can prove to be a very difficult and contentious process. For legal assistance in this and other family law matters call San Diego divorce attorney today at (619) 866-3756.