You may have certain rights to property that was acquired during marriage. This includes the family home, real properties, retirement accounts and benefits, stock options, motor vehicles, and business entities or professional practice interests.
California is a community property state. Community property generally includes all assets and debts acquired by spouses during the marriage. Separate property includes property acquired prior to marriage, after separation, or during marriage by way of gift or inheritance. California law provides that, as a general rule, the community property is to be divided equally.
Classification of an asset or a debt as separate or community is decided by the Court during legal separation or marital dissolution proceedings. The spouses may agree on the classification and division of their property and debts. The parties may enter into a marital settlement agreement classifying and dividing their property and debts and submit it to the Court for its approval.
It is not always easy to classify an asset or a debt. During marriage assets can become mixed. Separate funds may be used to acquire a portion of a community asset or community funds may be used to make improvements or reduce a loan balance on a separate asset. Some assets, such as retirement benefits, may have both community and separate interests, if contributions were made before and during marriage. Sometimes spouses enter into agreements changing the character of the assets. Determining the value of some assets can be complicated. The complexity of dividing the marital assets and debts can be overwhelming to you. It is important to have the assistance of counsel.
This office will suggest workable solutions and will provide you individual attention to ensure that your interests are protected.