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Family Law
Family Law

Newport Beach Property & Asset Division Lawyers

Aggressive Property & Asset Division Lawyers in Newport Beach, CA

In a divorce, it will be necessary to divide property, assets, and debt. This task can be daunting, and the consequences of a mistake can be devastating. Considering the high stakes of any divorce, particularly the financial implications of property and debt distribution, it is important to have an experienced and aggressive divorce attorney on your side to properly present your case and protect your best interests.

Even a seemingly simple divorce may involve a home, vehicles, bank accounts, and a considerable amount of debt to address. In high-net-worth divorces, the stakes are even higher and the proceedings more complicated, as investment accounts, real property, and business ownership may be involved. From complex high-asset divorces to traditional divorce proceedings, our Newport Beach property division lawyers at Sullivan Law & Associates are skilled and ready to help. With decades of experience and a commitment to quality counsel, our divorce lawyers are ready to assist you. Call our firm at (949) 590-8100 to get started.

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Community vs. Separate Property

Because California is an equitable distribution state when it comes to property, debt, and assets, these will be fairly distributed amongst divorcing spouses. It will be necessary to determine what is classified as community property and what is classified as separate property, as only community property will be subject to distribution. Here is a quick overview of community versus separate property:

Community Property 

Community property encompasses all assets owned jointly by spouses and acquired during their marriage. This encompasses the family home, other real estate, furniture, jewelry, bank accounts, vehicles, and more.

Separate Property

Separate Property encompasses any possessions that each spouse owned before the marriage. It also includes inheritances or gifts received by a spouse, even if acquired during the marriage. Additionally, items obtained with separate property or earnings generated from separate property are likely to be deemed as separate property.

In California, assets and property acquired after the date of separation, but before the divorce, are considered separate property. The date of separation may not necessarily coincide with when a spouse physically moves out, but rather when the decision to dissolve the marriage is made. Complicating matters further, in a marriage, assets are often commingled. For instance, if one spouse has a pre-marriage bank account and the other spouse begins making deposits into that account after exchanging vows, it can potentially be classified as marital property.

If you and your spouse possess items such as artwork or antiques, assigning them a value is necessary before commencing the division process. This can prove challenging if both parties fail to reach a consensus and typically necessitates the involvement of an appraiser.

Complex Property & Asset Division in California

While some cases involving property division are straightforward, others can be significantly more intricate. This is typically the case when there are various assets involved, such as stocks, retirement accounts, pensions, 401(k)s, bonds, and extensive real estate holdings.

In such situations, it is often necessary to collaborate with experts such as investigators, business valuators, and forensic accountants to navigate the complexities of property division. Divorces that entail complex property divisions require utmost caution and meticulous evaluation of assets and properties. Complex property divisions may encompass the following scenarios:

  • Dividing a business that is primarily operated by one spouse;
  • Valuing a business, particularly a family business;
  • Dividing corporate partnership assets;
  • Valuing and dividing commercial and ranch real estate;
  • Valuing stocks;
  • Determining if inheritances are marital or separate property;
  • Determining how the divorce will affect taxes for both parties;
  • Dividing the pension of one spouse;
  • Dividing retirement assets, including IRAs and 401(k)s;
  • The preparation of Qualified Domestic Relations Orders;
  • Deciphering pre or post-nuptial agreements, and
  • Determining spousal support and child support amounts.

Dividing Your Assets and Property in California

Spouses do not necessarily have to leave the process of asset and property division up to a judge. If you and your spouse can agree on which assets or property you are willing to give up or keep, this can save you both some time and money. You can also opt to hold onto property together if you are hoping for it to increase in value, or if you share children and would like them to be raised in it to avoid having to uproot them from their childhood home.

Ultimately, whichever route you choose, you must hire an experienced divorce attorney to ensure you do not make any decisions that are not in your interests. A skilled property division attorney in Newport Beach will be able to advise you on the best course of action and help you discern which property and assets are marital and which are separate, so you can avoid giving up property that was never meant to be divided.

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Frequently Asked Questions

How Does Federal Law Affect The Division Of Property?

The California Family Code governs divorce and legal separation, including the division of property. However, if the property falls under federal legislation, federal law may take precedence over California community property laws. Consequently, the division of your property in a divorce or legal separation may be influenced if it is protected by federal law.

When Does Separate Property Turn Into Community Property?

With the consent of both spouses, separate property can be converted into community property, or vice versa, through a title change known as transmutation. An example of this is when a husband, who owned a Porsche before marriage, adds his wife’s name to the title during the marriage.

For a transmutation to be valid, it must be in writing. If the transmutation affects a third party, such as a creditor, the creditor must be notified of the change in ownership. During a divorce, all assets and debts will be thoroughly examined and categorized as either community or separate property.

Is Property Division Always Split 50/50 in California?

In California, the division of property during a divorce does not always result in an equal split. California follows the community property rule, which generally mandates an equal distribution of marital property among spouses.

However, it’s important to understand that an equal split is the starting point, and the court may deviate from a 50/50 division based on various factors. The court takes into consideration numerous aspects to ensure a fair distribution of property, including but not limited to:

  1. Distribution of Assets and Debts: The court carefully evaluates the nature and value of all assets and debts accumulated during the marriage. This encompasses real estate, vehicles, bank accounts, investments, retirement savings, as well as liabilities such as mortgages, credit card balances, and loans.
  2. Individual Contributions: The court takes into consideration the contributions made by each spouse towards acquiring, preserving, and appreciating marital assets. Contributions can be financial, such as income earned and investments made, or non-financial, such as homemaking or supporting the other spouse’s career.
  3. Duration of the Marriage: The length of the marriage plays a significant role. In shorter marriages, the court may lean towards a more equitable distribution, while in longer marriages, a more comprehensive analysis of the spouses’ contributions and needs may be undertaken.
  4. Child Custody and Support: If children are involved, the court may consider the custody arrangement and the obligations for child support when determining the division of property. The primary caregiver may receive a larger portion of the assets to meet the child’s needs.
  5. Spousal Support: The court also takes into account the matter of spousal support (alimony) when determining property division. Factors such as the need for ongoing financial support and the ability to pay can influence the allocation of assets.

To fully grasp the implications of these factors in your particular circumstances, it is imperative to seek guidance from a seasoned family law attorney in Orange County. By doing so, you can navigate the intricacies of the property division process, safeguard your rights, and pursue a just and equitable distribution of assets and debts tailored to the unique aspects of your case.

Experienced Newport Beach Property Division Attorneys

Richard Sullivan, our founder and principal attorney, has been practicing law in Orange County since 1978. He has tried over 15,000 cases and has seen it all. He leads our team of experienced divorce lawyers to vigorously litigate and negotiate property and debt distribution in our clients’ divorces.

With our intelligent representation and commitment to understanding and addressing our clients’ immediate and long-term financial goals, we can provide skilled counsel in these matters. Contact Sullivan Law & Associates at (949) 590-8100 to speak with one of our Newport Beach property and asset division lawyers in Newport Beach to learn more about your property rights in your divorce.