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Irvine Divorce Lawyers Help With Property Division

Whenever couples divorce or legally separate, they must deal with property division. Property division is governed at the state level and each state has its own particular laws. California’s statutes divide community property (marital property) equally when couples cannot reach a settlement and the court is left to decide. At Michel & Rhyne, our attorneys in Orange County help clients address all aspects of California property division, assisting them to settle outside of court whenever possible and representing them through trial when necessary.

Characterizing property

During divorce, the first task involved with property division is characterizing what property is community and what property is separate. Separate property is not subject to division and includes property owned prior to marriage, along with property acquired from inheritances or gifts to only one spouse. Property couples acquire jointly during marriage is community property and generally includes the following:

  • Gross income
  • Assets either spouse acquires through income earned while married
  • Bank accounts
  • Stock investments
  • Retirement accounts
  • Cars
  • Family home
  • Real estate purchased in California or out-of-state
  • Any other assets acquired out-of-state using marital earnings
  • Family-owned business

Property valuation

Property valuation is part of property division, and appraisals are often essential. Estimating taxation is another aspect of property valuation and necessary for calculating fair asset division. In addition, couples must divide their debts and liabilities.

Mixed assets and co-mingling

Property division can become complicated when couples mix or co-mingle their separate assets with marital assets. For example, say one spouse owns a house prior to marriage and rents the house for additional income. The income earned from the house is separate property. However, when the spouse combines that rental income in a joint bank account with income earned by both spouses during marriage, the money is co-mingled.

The advantages of settling property division outside of court and submitting your own settlement agreement is you have more freedom to obtain a fair distribution. While courts may take some factors into consideration, they basically divide property 50/50. This statutory rule on division is why some couples consult with a family law attorney and devise prenuptial agreements prior to marrying. A prenuptial agreement ensures separate property stays characterized as separate in the event of California property division.

Rely on our trusted Irvine divorce attorneys for legal help

Michel & Rhyne assists clients with property division throughout Southern California. Contact us to schedule a consultation.