Division of Assets Lawyer in Fresno Helping You Divide Property in a Divorce
Deciding who gets to keep what can be one of the most contentious parts of a divorce. You may have come into the marriage already owning certain things and with your own money, and you and your spouse have probably added marital assets over the years. It can be challenging to figure out what each person is entitled to keep in the event of a divorce, and if the two of you don’t agree, it can be quite a legal battle at a time when emotions may already be running high.
Like most states, California has specific guidelines that govern the division of assets. Making sure that the guidelines are followed while navigating all of the other complex aspects of divorce can be too much for one person to handle. Fortunately, Bains Law Offices has experienced division of assets professionals who can walk you through the necessary steps and complete the required paperwork to help you get the assets you are entitled to. Call our Fresno office today at 559-890-1007 to get started.
How Are Assets Divided in California?
In some states, the guideline for dividing assets is called “equitable distribution.” This means that the court can take many factors into consideration when dividing assets in the dissolution of a marriage or domestic partnership. The judge decides what is fair and equitable, which may or may not be equal shares to each party. California, however, is what is called a “community property” state.
This means that all of the assets that belong to a married couple belong to each of them equally, and these assets will be divided in half. This does not necessarily mean that every single asset will be divided equally but that in the end, assets of equal value are given to each party. For example, if a couple owns two homes that a roughly equal in value, each party can keep one house, instead of both houses being sold and the proceeds divided. It is also possible for one spouse to take on a larger percentage of marital debt to balance out some asset for which they receive more than the other party.
What is Not Considered Marital Property in California
Property that is not considered marital property for the purposes of asset division is known as “separate property.” Assets that were owned by one party before the marriage, for example, are considered separate property, as are any assets purchased with separate property. For example, if a person inherited a large fortune before marriage, that money would be considered separate property. If the party then used that money only and no marital money to buy a home and does not put the spouse’s name on the deed to the house, the home would also be considered separate property.
Furthermore, if the owner rented the home, the rental income would be considered separate property, as long as it was kept separate from marital assets. Separate property ceases to be separate if it is mixed with marital assets. So, if the inheritance or rental income was put into a bank account owned jointly with the spouse, it would become community property at that point.
What About Dividing Debts?
Just as the assets within a marriage are owned equally by both parties, so are debts. Any debt that was entered into during the marriage is considered jointly held. Sometimes, the two parties agree on their own that each will take on certain jointly-held debts without getting a court ruling. This can be dangerous, as your debtors will not usually recognize these informal agreements. If your ex-spouse or ex-partner stops paying the debts they agreed to pay, you are still liable and the debtor can come after you for repayment.
This can be expensive and ruin your ability to get necessary financing in the future, due to harm to your credit scores. It can seem quite attractive to come to your own, informal agreements regarding the division of assets to keep your divorce from becoming contentious, but such informal agreements are not enforceable, and sometimes a person’s willingness to abide by them changes over time. Your safest option is to enlist the help of a skilled division of assets attorney to help you formalize any agreements that can be reached, and to pursue court action when agreement is not possible. Call Bains Law Offices today at 559-890-1007 to get sound legal counsel and experienced representation as you seek the assets you are entitled to.
How Can a Division of Assets Attorney Help?
Determining which assets are community property and which are separate can be a tedious and complicated process, and agreements that are not enforceable can lead to more heartache and even financial ruin in the future. An accomplished division of assets lawyer can help you through the tangle of legal documents and research required to divide your assets fairly in a divorce or separation, and can relieve some of the stress you are going through at an often emotional and difficult time.