Naturally, couples acquire a lot of property during their marriage, from a new house to a shared car to joint bank accounts to that flat-screen TV. Unfortunately, no couple expects the life they built together to one day crumble beneath insurmountable conflict. While divorce becomes may be the only road to peace for both of you, it is not an easy path. One of the most lengthy and complicated issues that you will have to deal with is dividing up property during your divorce. Property division in California is complicated and can often be emotional since many of your possessions are attached to memories. We want to ease you through this process, clearing up all the laws of property division in Los Angeles and helping you get on to rebuilding a happy and fulfilling life. Your best chance at protecting your hard-earned possessions is to have a vigilant and innovative representative on your side. Our Los Angeles property division attorneys are just that. By walking you through each step – filling out the forms for property division, negotiating with your spouse, fighting for your belongings – we will provide you with the quality of service and levels of support and compassion you deserve. However, know that dividing up assets in California is a complex process and the information we provide below is not meant to be taken as legal advice. Instead, we provide Free Case Evaluations to answer your questions, so you can make sure we are a good match before you make any commitments.
How is Property Split During a Divorce in Los Angeles, California?
Community Property Laws in California – What is Considered Marital Property in California?
California divorces operate on community property laws, which state that all property the couple obtained during their marriage is considered community property or belonging to both partners. As such, when a couple goes through a divorce or legal separation, that community (or marital) property must be divided.
What Kind of Property is Included in Community Property?
Community property includes your typical physical assets – houses, furniture, decorations, vehicles, or anything that could be bought or sold. However, it also includes non-physical assets – pensions or retirement funds, bank accounts, insurance policies, businesses, credit cards, etc. Not that this also includes debt, which can be a powerful bargaining tool in the hands of innovative property division attorneys. The division of pensions and retirement funds is extremely complicated, so we’ve dedicated an entire page to discussing how that property is divided.
Can My Husband or Wife Take My Inheritance During a Divorce?
Typically, no. Your inheritance is usually considered your separate property. However, it depends on the specifications of the inheritance. But most often, inheritance is not included in community property.
Is Property Split 50/50 During a Divorce in California?
Although this is typically how people approach the idea of property division in California, the property is not always divided fifty-fifty between spouses. After all, logically that cannot be the case. There is no giant knife that will slice your car and your house in two. Instead, California strives to make property division as close to 50/50 as possible. This means that several factors will be taken into consideration and the couple or the judge will make decisions to split the property as fairly as possible. This is why property division is such an intricate and highly involved process. However, with the checklist we will provide as your property division attorney, we will make sure that no base is left uncovered.
Steps to Property Division in California
The Process of Property Division in Los Angeles
Property Division Forms in Los Angeles County
The first step to figuring out who gets what during your divorce is to make a comprehensive list of every item you own. This will go onto the main form used for property division, which you will be required to submit to the city of Los Angeles. You can usually exclude property that is obviously separate (or anything you bought before the marriage). However, if you are not sure what type of property it is, include it on the list or consult with your lawyer to speed up the process later on.
Separating Property by Type – Community, Separate, Transmuted, or Commingled
Next, you must go through that list and classify all your possessions based on California’s community property laws. Your property division attorney will guide you through this, so you can easily denote on the property division forms which belongings go in which category. This depends on the date you obtain the property, what the possession is, and if it is considered a “gift” according to California’s property laws.
Determining the Value of Your Possessions for a Divorce
In order to decide how much each possession is worth, you must not only consider its value in terms of money, but in terms of the personal value you place on it. Thus, as you go through each possessions, you should personally categorize which ones you do not want to give up, which ones you would like but could do without, and which ones you are most willing to give away. We know that this can be an emotional time, since many possessions are attached to feelings and memories that go far beyond monetary value. Thus, we will be there to support you and fight for the belongings you hold most dear.
Final Community Property Division
The last step in dividing property during a divorce is the stage where you will actually divvy up your possessions and sign off on a legal agreement. You and your spouse have two main options for this final stage of property division, which we discuss in more detail below.
Options for Property Division in California
Writing a Property Settlement Agreement Together – Dividing Property with Mediation
Some couples would rather discuss the terms of their property division settlement together and come to conclusions in a more cooperative manner than courtroom litigations. In this case, you will hire a mediation attorney for your property division who will walk you through all the forms and paperwork and enable civil negotiations and assist with mitigating any conflicts or arguments that may arise. As you make decisions, we will also help you write up your final property division agreement, making it as detailed as possible to avoid future arguments. We will ensure that you both are well informed of how your decisions will play out once your divorce is finalized, so that you never sign off on the property agreement without being aware of the possible repercussions. Finally, once you review and sign the marital settlement, we will present it to the judge and have them approve it. For more information on divorce mediation as a whole, please visit this page or call us for a Free Case Evaluation.
Property Division in Los Angeles Courts
Unfortunately, not all partners can agree on the terms of their property division settlement, even with a skilled mediation attorney. If this happens, they must go through hearings in court where the judge will have the final say on who gets what in the divorce. Should you go through property division litigations, we will fight fiercely for you, always working to persuade the judge to allow you to keep your most prized possessions and working to come to an agreement that is best for you. You should not have to go through this process alone, and we are prepared to enter the courtroom alongside you.
Is It Possible to Change a Property Division Settlement in Los Angeles?
In almost every case, the answer is no. Once the judge reviews your property division agreement and he or she, your spouse, and you sign off on it, it is official. However, you may be able to go directly to your partner and request that they discuss changing the property division settlement with you. In this case, we may be able to help you argue for a modification of your property settlement agreement, even if you cannot officially go to court for it.