Property Division Caring & Effective Legal Advocacy

Los Angeles Property Division Lawyer

What is Considered Community Property in California?

In California, the division of assets and liabilities will be a key part of a divorce. Whether you are considering a collaborative divorce or believe that you and your spouse will need to go to court to resolve the matter, you will need to consider how property division will affect you.

California is a community property state, which means that assets and debts acquired during the marriage are generally considered "community property" and will therefore be subject to equitable distribution. If spouses cannot reach an agreement on their own, the court will split community property equally between both parties.

Although in most cases property division will be as equal as possible, there are potential factors that the court may take into account that may affect the division of assets. For example, if one party attempted to intentionally misappropriate property to deny it to the other party, or in certain economic situations, an asset or assets may be awarded to one spouse and not the other.

It is important to consult an experienced Los Angeles property division lawyer. If you are going through divorce in the LA area, call Claery & Hammond, LLP at (310) 817-6904.

What is Separate Property?

Separate property generally includes assets and debts acquired by either spouse before the marriage, after separation, or through inheritance or gift to one spouse during the marriage. Separate property is not subject to division during divorce. However, if separate property is commingled with community property, it may become partially or entirely community property.

Property Division Process in California

In California, the property division process during a divorce is governed by the community property laws.

  • Division of community property
  • Marital settlement agreement
  • Court intervention
  • Valuation of assets
  • Retirement and pension plans
  • Debt division
Division of Community Property

California law requires an equitable division of community property between the spouses. This does not necessarily mean that each asset will be physically divided; instead, the court aims for a fair and equitable distribution of the overall value of community property.

Marital Settlement Agreement

Spouses can negotiate and create a marital settlement agreement that outlines the division of their property. This agreement can specify how assets and debts will be divided and can be submitted to the court for approval. The court generally upholds these agreements as long as they are not unconscionable or unfair.

Court Intervention

If the spouses are unable to reach an agreement, the court will step in and make decisions regarding the division of property. The court will consider various factors such as each spouse's contribution to the acquisition of assets, the length of the marriage, the needs of each spouse, and other relevant factors to determine a fair division.

Valuation of Assets

It is essential to determine the value of assets and debts during the property division process. This may involve obtaining appraisals for significant assets. Accurate valuation helps ensure an equitable distribution.

Types of Assets in a Divorce

  • Real Estate: This includes the marital home, vacation properties, rental properties, land, and any other real estate owned by the couple.
  • Bank Accounts: Any joint bank accounts, savings accounts, or certificates of deposit held by the spouses are considered marital assets.
  • Investments: Stocks, bonds, mutual funds, retirement accounts (such as 401(k) plans and IRAs), brokerage accounts, and any other investment vehicles fall under this category.
  • Vehicles: Cars, motorcycles, boats, recreational vehicles, and other vehicles acquired during the marriage are typically considered marital assets.
  • Business Interests: Ownership stakes in businesses, professional practices, partnerships, and closely held corporations may be subject to division or valuation.
  • Household Items: Furniture, appliances, electronics, artwork, collectibles, and other personal belongings acquired during the marriage may be included in the division of assets.
Retirement and Pension Plans

Retirement benefits and pension plans accumulated during the marriage are considered community property. They may be subject to division or offsetting in the divorce process. Specific rules and calculations may apply to determine the division of these assets.

Debt Division

In addition to dividing assets, community debts are also divided between the spouses. This includes financial obligations acquired during the marriage.

Types of Debts in a Divorce

  • Mortgages and Home Loans: Any outstanding mortgages or loans on the marital home or other properties are considered marital debts.
  • Credit Card Debt: Debts incurred on joint credit cards or credit cards used for marital expenses are typically considered community debts.
  • Personal Loans: Any loans taken by either spouse during the marriage, including personal loans, student loans, or lines of credit, may be subject to division.
  • Auto Loans: If there are outstanding auto loans for vehicles owned by the couple, they may be considered marital debts.
  • Business Debts: If the spouses have joint liability for business debts, they may need to be addressed as part of the divorce settlement.
  • Tax Liabilities: Any tax debts or liabilities, including income taxes or unpaid taxes from previous years, may need to be considered in the division of assets and debts.

Is My Spouse Hiding Assets?

Discovering that a spouse may be hiding assets can be a distressing realization during divorce proceedings. While not all signs necessarily indicate deliberate concealment, here are some common red flags that may suggest your spouse is hiding assets:

  • Unexplained Changes in Financial Behavior: Sudden changes in financial behavior, such as increased secrecy surrounding finances, unexplained withdrawals or transfers, or efforts to control or limit access to financial records, could be indicative of attempts to conceal assets.
  • Discrepancies in Financial Documentation: If you notice inconsistencies or discrepancies in financial documents, such as bank statements, tax returns, or investment statements, it may signal efforts to conceal assets or income. Look for missing or altered records, unexplained transactions, or discrepancies between reported income and lifestyle.
  • Unusual Asset Transfers or Sales: Keep an eye out for unusual asset transfers or sales, particularly those conducted without explanation or apparent reason. Your spouse may be attempting to move assets out of your reach or convert them into a different form to make them harder to trace.
  • Complex Financial Structures or Accounts: Deliberate efforts to complicate financial structures, such as setting up offshore accounts, creating complex trusts, or establishing business entities, could be tactics used to hide assets from scrutiny during divorce proceedings.
  • Uncooperative or Evasive Behavior: If your spouse is uncooperative or evasive when it comes to discussing finances, providing documentation, or responding to inquiries about assets, it may raise suspicions of potential asset concealment.
  • Undervaluation of Assets: Be wary if your spouse undervalues assets during divorce negotiations or fails to disclose certain assets altogether. This could include undervaluing real estate, business interests, investments, or other valuable assets to minimize their contribution to the marital estate.
  • Unexplained Debt or Expenses: Keep an eye out for unexplained debt or expenses that seem disproportionate to reported income or known financial obligations. Your spouse may be using debt to conceal assets or funneling money into hidden accounts or investments.
  • Lifestyle Discrepancies: Discrepancies between your spouse's reported income and their lifestyle or spending habits could be indicative of undisclosed assets or income. Look for signs of lavish spending, luxury purchases, or extravagant lifestyle choices that seem incongruent with reported financial resources.
  • Hidden Income Sources: If you suspect your spouse has undisclosed sources of income, such as cash businesses, side gigs, or investment income, it may warrant further investigation to uncover potential hidden assets.

If you notice any of these signs or have concerns about asset concealment, our team of attorneys can help you investigate further and take appropriate legal action to ensure a fair and equitable division of assets during divorce proceedings.

How Can a Lawyer Help with Property Division?

There are numerous ways a skilled property division attorney in Los Angeles can assist you in addressing the division of property for your divorce. For example, it may come into question exactly what property should be considered "community property" and what is separate. In these situations, your attorney can work to represent your interests and future in order to protect your property from being split with your spouse or help ensure that certain property is included to be divided.

Here are some of the advantages of working with us:

  • Vast Knowledge in California Divorce Law: Our attorneys specialize in family law and are well-versed in California's complex divorce laws, including community property rules. We have extensive experience handling property division cases and can provide knowledgeable guidance throughout the process.
  • Personalized Legal Strategy: We understand that every divorce is unique, and we tailor our legal strategies to meet the specific needs and goals of each client. Whether you're negotiating a settlement or litigating in court, we will develop a customized approach designed to protect your interests and achieve the best possible outcome.
  • Thorough Asset Evaluation: We have the resources and expertise to thoroughly evaluate all marital assets, including real estate, businesses, investments, retirement accounts, and personal property. Our attorneys work with financial experts and appraisers to ensure that assets are accurately valued, helping to prevent disputes over property division.
  • Negotiation and Mediation Skills: Many property division cases can be resolved through negotiation or mediation, avoiding the time, expense, and emotional stress of litigation. Our attorneys are skilled negotiators and mediators who can advocate for your interests while striving to reach a fair and amicable settlement with your spouse.
  • Courtroom Advocacy: If litigation becomes necessary, you can rely on our attorneys to provide strong courtroom advocacy on your behalf. We have extensive trial experience and are prepared to litigate aggressively to protect your rights and interests in court.
  • Legal Protection and Advocacy: Divorce can be an emotionally charged and contentious process, and having a skilled attorney by your side can provide invaluable legal protection and advocacy. We will handle all communications and negotiations with your spouse and their attorney, allowing you to focus on moving forward with your life.
  • Comprehensive Legal Support: At Claery & Hammond, LLP, we provide comprehensive legal support throughout the property division process. From conducting discovery and gathering evidence to drafting settlement agreements and representing you in court, we will guide you every step of the way.
  • Peace of Mind: By entrusting your property division case to us, you can have peace of mind knowing that your interests are being protected by experienced and dedicated legal professionals. We will work tirelessly to achieve the best possible outcome for you and your family.

By consulting with a Los Angeles property division lawyer at Claery & Hammond, LLP you can learn more about how your specific situation could be impacted by California's property division laws. Founding partner Lance Claery and attorney Eli Hammond have represented hundreds of clients in all types of divorce proceedings, and our team can represent your rights and interests in the family courts.

For professional help with equitable distribution issues, contact our Los Angeles property division attorney at Claery & Hammond, LLP today at (310) 817-6904!

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