Leon F. Bennett, Esq.
Los Angeles and Ventura County Property Rights Lawyer
An integral, yet one of the most difficult parts of most divorces is the division of property. California is what is called a community property state although there are exceptions for what’s defined as “Separate Property”.
Defining Community and Separate Property
Community Property is all of the assets and debts acquired by the spouses during the marriage, with codified exclusions. Community Property is generally divided equally between the spouses by the courts, or through a negotiated Pre or Postnuptial marital settlement agreement. The word “property” conjures up the idea of physical property – homes or land – owned by the couple, however the definition of property includes many other assets including:
- Retirement accounts
- A 401(k)
- Multiple properties located inside and/or outside of California
- An injury lawsuit
The exception to community property laws for property acquired jointly during the marriage is a Pre or Postnuptial Agreement which specifies the property is separate.
On the other hand, there are properties defined as “separately owned” which can substantially affect each party’s property award. Separately owned property can include the following:
- Property owned by one spouse prior to the marriage
- Profit from property owned by one spouse prior to the marriage (with certain exceptions)
- Property inherited by one spouse or received as a gift before or after marriage
- Profit from property inherited or received as a gift before or after the marriage
- Earnings or wealth acquired after a legal separation is in place
- Income earned while living apart and separately
In certain circumstance and with the consent of both spouses, Separate Property can be changed into Community Property and vice-versa. Our legal experts can guide you through these details to assure a fair and hopefully amicable division of property in the unfortunate event of divorce.
It is important to secure an attorney who is capable of representing all of your property interests in divorce and will leave no stone unturned. During the Property Rights process, we will regularly consult with other professionals, such as forensic accountants and valuation experts, as needed, to assure your Property Rights are handled efficiently and fairly.