Property division in the Santa Rosa area follows California’s community property law. This law provides that in almost all situations, the assets acquired during a marriage are to be divided equally. The first difficulty that arises is determining which property belongs to the community, which belongs separately to one spouse or the other and which might belong in part to the community and in part to one spouse or the other.
Complications arise in many situations, including when separate property is brought into the marriage and paid for all or in part by the community, when separate property funds are used to buy marital property and/or when separate property is acquired during the marriage. Most spouses don’t keep a formal accounting of separate property, as they aren’t planning for a divorce. Further, many spouses are on an unequal financial footing before their marriage, which can lead to especially pronounced disputes when the marriage is ending.
Discovering assets that may be hidden by the other spouse and determining what is and isn’t community property requires meticulous work. All debts, such as mortgages, car loans, student loans, and credit cards, as well as assets, such as cash, investments, retirement plans, and real estate, must be accounted for. In a long marriage where property and investments are bought and sold several times, the purchase price, sale price, and any appreciation or depreciation must be carefully accounted for. With thousands of dollars or more potentially on the line, a skilled attorney can be extremely valuable when preparing for property division proceedings.
The second difficulty that arises in property disputes, is agreeing with your spouse on which property is community or separate and what their respective values are. Most often, positions are taken that suite the parties needs. The help of an experienced attorney keeps the focus on what the court is likely to do, so that time and expenses aren’t wasted on unnecessary litigation. This saves the client time and money in the long run.
The last difficulty in property division is determining how best to divide up the community and separate property. That often involves potential tax consequences, short and long term goals and planning for one’s retirement. It then usually involves creating property transfer documents, including deeds, orders for transfer of retirement funds and Qualified Domestic Relations Orders.
If you need a lawyer to handle your division of property case following a divorce in Santa Rosa, Windsor, or Petaluma in Sonoma County, contact Brian Lanz at The Family Law Office today – (707) 523-4419.