Clients undergoing divorce usually have accrued property together. This includes not only real estate, but also vehicles, bank accounts, retirement plans, debts, personal property, and many other categories of property. When their relationship ends, often issues can arise regarding how their property will be divided.
In California, property accrued during marriage or during a domestic partnership is generally considered to be community property, with certain limited exceptions. That means that each party is entitled to receive half the value of the community property at the time of divorce or termination of a domestic partnership. If the case is litigated, the Court is likely to divide the value of the parties’ community property equally between the parties. If the case is resolved by mediation or collaboration, the parties are not bound by what a Court would do, but can enter into agreements that are most likely to meet the needs of the family.
All divorce and dissolution of domestic partnership cases require the exchange of Preliminary Declarations of Disclosure, which set forth all the property, both assets and debts, that the parties have. Each party has a fiduciary duty to fully disclose all such items. I work closely with my clients to make sure that all assets and debts are fully disclosed, as well as to assure that the other party fully discloses all assets and debts.
Certain types of property, such as retirement plans, family businesses, unique parcels of real property, or collectible items, may require the assistance of experts to properly value and divide them. If an expert is needed, this will be discussed and agreed to by my clients in advance. If possible, and agreed to by both sides, a joint expert will be used.
It is important that all family law clients have as much information about their property as possible before either litigating or settling property issues. If a client has historically not had much information or input regarding their property, I help the client to learn as much as possible about the property situation so informed decisions can be made regarding valuation and division.