Asset Division Attorney in Los Angeles, Simplifying Property Issues in Divorce
Many people call their marriage the happiest day of their lives. Unfortunately, things often have a way of deteriorating over time. Not all marriages will last, and if yours seems destined to end, you may worry about what a California divorce entails. While these proceedings can differ for every couple — particularly if children are involved — one issue that nearly all former partners deal with is property division. This frequently leads to drawn-out litigation that’s both time-consuming and costly for those involved. With the help of an asset division lawyer in Los Angeles, however, it may be possible to simplify the process and move on with your life.
At Kim Mediation and Law Center, we encourage our clients to take a more cooperative approach. Through mediation or collaborative law, it’s possible for everyone to get their fair share of marital property without becoming combative inside or outside of the courtroom. In fact, we help many of our clients avoid even the potential for such issues by drafting both prenuptial and post-nuptial agreements. Regardless of your property division needs, we’re ready to help. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation with an experienced family law professional.
Is California a Community Property State?
To understand the division of marital assets in California, it’s important to understand whether we’re a community property state. The answer to this question is “yes,” and this will have a significant effect on how separations and divorce proceedings play out. California community property laws state that marital property division should be equal. This means that anything acquired during the marriage must be split 50-50. This doesn’t mean that all properties must be split in half, so there’s no need to sell real estate and divide the proceeds. As long as each spouse gets half of the combined marital assets, the division process is considered equal.
Other states utilize an equitable distribution approach. This means they’ll consider things like each spouse’s income earned, the duration of the marriage, who most contributed to the marital estate, and other factors. In fact, some states even take marital misconduct into account with dividing assets. This means an unfaithful spouse could face punitive measures in the legal process. California divorces simplify all this by merely saying that marital property division must be equal. Separate property is not included in the division of assets. This means assets acquired prior to the marriage or gifts/inheritance will not be divided.
Can Separate Property Be Divided in a Divorce?
Assets and debts that are considered separate property are typically not divided during a divorce. This means a beloved 1967 sportscar purchased in high school would usually be safe — as would inheritances left behind by family members. However, there are certain circumstances that could arise and leave such properties exposed during a divorce. This can happen in situations where couples agree to divide such assets and property in a marital contract — explained in more detail in the next section — but it also often occurs when properties are comingled.
Envision a situation where you invest in a rental property a decade before your marriage. You’ve maintained this parcel of real estate on your own, and there’s no debate that it’s your personal property. Then you get married. Even at this point, this parcel of real estate still is not considered community property if you were to divorce. However, an issue could arise if you use marital assets to maintain, repair, furnish, or make improvements to the property. A court may decide that the rental now falls under community property laws. In this situation, its value would be added to the marital property and divided appropriately.
Such complex property divisions can lead to disagreements that eventually turn into lengthy litigation. You may be able to avoid such issues by speaking with a property division lawyer prior to getting married — as discussed in the next section — but many people don’t understand the repercussions of comingling assets until it’s too late. In such situations, it’s wise to speak with a family law firm that can provide mediation and collaborative law services. Taking a cooperative approach will give you more control over the divorce process than if you let a judge decide everything.
Can a Prenuptial Agreement Deal With Property Division?
While both prenuptial and postnuptial agreements can deal with a variety of issues, their main goal is to clarify property division matters following divorce proceedings. People often see these agreements as nothing more than a way for the wealthy to keep all their assets. In reality, even individuals with more moderate means now opt for such marital contracts. In these agreements, it’s possible to dictate that one spouse will receive a portion of separate property in the case of a divorce. It’s also possible that such an agreement could require that assets and debts not be divided equally — even though community property division laws would otherwise apply.
Before you try to handle property division through a prenup or postnup, though, you should speak with a Los Angeles asset division attorney. California law is very clear about prenuptial agreements, and if they’re not entered into appropriately, they could be completely voided. Even if you do follow the appropriate steps for creating a valid agreement, certain provisions may be unenforceable if you’re not careful. When it comes to postnuptial agreements, the need for an attorney-client relationship is even more pressing. That’s because postnups are presumed invalid by California courts until proven otherwise. A property division attorney can help ensure your agreement meets statutory requirements.
Do I Need an Asset Division Attorney?
Thanks to seemingly straightforward divorce laws in California, dividing assets that are considered community property may seem like a simple endeavor. This leads many people into attempts to create their own divorce settlement and avoid litigation. Such a strategy is completely legal in the Golden State, so many people wonder why they need a property division lawyer at all. This is a valid and understandable question, but the simple fact is that California divorce is nowhere near as simple as it may seem. For instance, do you know how to divide debts incurred during the divorce — or how they may affect the value of assets owned?
Divorces that occur in community property states also frequently run into issues with agreement validity. While the last section discussed marital contract validity, it’s important to note that all divorce agreements must be approved by the courts. It’s not enough to simply document how you want to split property acquired during the marriage. Your agreement must meet California statutory requirements or risk being rejected. Unfortunately, these issues are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to divorce in the state, and that’s why it’s so vital that you seek help from a law firm.
When you have legal assistance on your side, you also have access to forensic accountants, property valuation resources, financial experts, and much more. A Los Angeles asset division attorney can help you get a full understanding of all monetary matters before making major decisions. They can also ensure any agreements are valid before being submitted to the courts. While it may seem like “going it alone” is an ideal way to save money, the potential pitfalls of doing this can be far more costly. And since you can get a free consultation at the Kim Mediation and Law Center, there’s no excuse for not seeking legal advice.
Contact an Asset Division Lawyer in Los Angeles Today
No one gets married with the intent of their relationship ending. Unfortunately, this outcome is a common one. Even in California — where divorce rates are among the lowest in the nation — around 100,000 people end their marriages yearly. This statistic becomes even more sobering if you include those who are separating but have not ended their marriage. When these situations arise, the state will very often make decisions regarding marital property. If you and your former partner can cooperate even a little, however, it’s possible to exercise far more control over your separation or divorce settlement.
At Kim Mediation and Law Center, we strive to help our clients avoid the adversarial environment of the courtroom. While property division issues may seem complex — particularly when high-value assets or separate property are involved — you can simplify these matters with the help of an experienced lawyer who specializes in family law. Contact us today at Kim Mediation and Law Center by calling (213) 351-1000 to schedule a free consultation. With an asset division lawyer in Los Angeles on your side, it’s possible to navigate the end of your relationship without the stressful nature of litigation.