The end of a marriage is a bit like the end of the term at nursery school when all the kids’ coloring pencils have gotten mixed up, and no one is quite sure what belongs to who anymore. You know what you each started with, you know what is now left, but you are not sure how to split it.
Property division is one of the most challenging issues to settle during your divorce. California requires that you divide your community property equitably. Before you can do this, you need to determine what is community property and what is separate property.
Assets acquired during your marriage are generally community property. Things you owned before marriage or inherited typically remain separate property. Yet, some things get mixed over time and are referred to as commingled assets. For example, you put your inheritance into the joint bank account and treated it the same as the other monies you both paid into that account. Or your spouse owned the house before you married, but you spent money improving it. What percentage of the money in the bank account is yours? What percentage of the improved home is yours?
Property division may require professional help
Here are a few other things that can complicate property division and you may need help to solve:
- Hiding assets: If one of you uses underhand moves to hide assets or fails to let the other person know they exist, it can create suspicion and require a thorough investigation.
- Valuing assets: The value of money in a bank account is clear for all to see. Yet assets such as property, businesses or artworks can be challenging to put a price on.
Getting a fair settlement when dividing property in your divorce is crucial to begin your new life on a solid footing. Understanding the laws and the problems that commonly occur can help ensure your spouse does not short-change you.