The division of a couple’s assets and debts is considered one of the most difficult and complex factors in a divorce. Marital property includes houses, cars, retirement benefits (pensions and 401k plans), cash, business interests, stocks, bonds, bank accounts, personal property, and other things of value. An experiences attorney can diffuse some of the feelings and emotions that can come up during this phase of a divorce and bring a common-sense approach to the division of assets and property, while also advocating and protecting the rights and wishes of his of her client.
Debt is also subject to division. Marital debts, also referred to as liabilities, can include mortgages, credit card accounts, car loans, and other amounts of money the is owed to third parties.
Usually, any assets or liability accumulated during the marriage is considered marital and subject to division.
California statutes and case law provide for an “equitable distribution” of marital assets and liabilities. Marital property is not necessarily divided equally, but equitably or fairly between parties. Courts decide equitable distribution before determining the possibility of spousal support.
Most often, the division process begins with identifying what property and assets need to be divided between spouses. All property or assets acquired throughout the marriage can be subject to division. There are some exceptions: inheritance, gifts, or certain property identified in a pre-nuptial agreement. Once the property is rightly identified, it is then divided equitably.
Couples are giving the option of working out a plan for property division on their own, and as long as it is reasonable, the court typically approves the couple’s wishes. The court will intervene, however, if the couple is incapable of coming to a reasonable agreement and will divide property as it sees fit. When doing so, the court will look into many factors, including the value of property, the contributions each spouse made during the marriage, the economic circumstances of each spouse, and the fluctuations of property value during the marriage.
Property division should not be seen as a way to “get back at” or gain revenge on a spouse who did something to betray you. California is a no-fault state and will not consider either spouse’s behavior to come to a decision regarding property division.
When there is business involved with the marriage, the division process becomes even more complicated. Sometimes, divorces in which one or both spouses owns a business require a financial expert to assist in the valuation of the business.
If you are going through a divorce and have questions about the division of assets and debts, we can provide assistance. Please don’t hesitate to contact Trevino Law, Inc. at 949-716-2102 or use our online contact form for more information.