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California Property Division Attorney

COMMUNITY PROPERTY DIVISION

As a community property state, California has established a family law code intended to make property division as straightforward as possible. California defines community property as being all the property, both real and personal, which a married person, living in the state, acquires during marriage. Upon dissolution, and in the absence of any premarital or postnuptial agreement, community property is equally divided between the parties.

FIDUCIARY DUTY

After marriage, both spouses stand as fiduciaries to the other. As such, each spouse owes to the other an obligation to act in the highest good faith and with fair dealing. This means that neither spouse can take unfair advantage of the other. In highly contested cases, it is not unusual for one spouse to hide assets or income from the other. Full financial disclosure is required and failure to fully disclose is a breach of fiduciary duty.

Our legal team and network of experts is well equipped to:

  • Find the money by following paper trails leading to undisclosed marital property and income.
  • Look beyond the tax returns and bank account statements to the resources that may reveal where and how assets and income have been hidden.
  • Assemble conclusive evidence that there are no hidden or concealed assets should you have been falsely accused by your spouse.
  • Assert your right to separate property, including inherited property.

IDENTIFICATION, CHARACTERIZATION AND VALUATION

In the early stages of the dissolution process, each spouse is required to prepare an inventory and declare all assets and debts, both those held in community and those held separately. Our staff will work with you to make a complete list of all material facts and information regarding your separate and marital estates. Should you not have equal access to some information, and the other side is not forthcoming, a process called Discovery is initiated to determine the following:

  • Household furniture and furnishings
  • Vehicles, including cars, boats, trailers, and aircraft
  • Bank accounts, including checking, saving and investment accounts
  • Life Insurance with cash surrender values
  • Stocks and Bonds
  • IRA's, Pensions, Deferred compensation, 401(k)
  • Vacation pay, sick leave, frequent flyer miles and tickets of sorts
  • Records of businesses, partnerships and corporations
  • Accounts receivable.

Characterizing the property found above is the next step, and this includes community property, quasi-community property and separate property. Characterizing assets as being community, separate, or mixed can be a difficult and time consuming task. Some property has a dual character or has changed character during the marital relationship, which must be determined in the division.

Once property is identified and characterized, it must be valued. If this cannot be accomplished amicably, it becomes a major point of dispute. As a result, we routinely retain expert forensic accountants, financial analysts, and appraisers to value assets such as pension plans, stocks, homes, and business interests.

We will explain the nuances of community property law and how it applies to each of the assets and debts in your case.

TAX ASPECTS OF DIVORCE

Chavis Law Firm works with estate and tax attorneys and accountants to optimize your best interests.

SEPARATE PROPERTY

An equally important thrust of a case is making sure our clients receive their separate (non-marital) property back. The heart of this challenge is proving that certain property is, or once was, the client's alone. Even if money or other assets have been comingled during marriage, producing the proper records and documentation can prove your case such as:

  • Assets purchased prior to marriage
  • Gifts received during the marriage
  • Inheritances received during the marriage
  • Effect of placing separate property into joint accounts
  • Effect of transferring title of separate assets to the community
  • Rights to reimbursement of separate property.

MARITAL DEBT

While dividing marital property is important, determining and dividing debt is part of the process as well. Both spouses are, or can be, responsible for debt held jointly, and each may also be held accountable for debt that is not held in both names. Creditors are not parties to, and are not concerned with, the terms of any divorce judgment. A former spouse could therefore find him/herself the target of collection agencies if your former spouse fails to pay debts s/he accumulated during the marriage.

Every situation has unique characteristics that require knowledgeable counsel. Chavis Law Firm is a full service law firm and is ready to assist clients with a broad range of family law issues.

Folsom Divorce Lawyer
What to bring on your first appointment
Will questionnaire
income/expense declaration
schedule of assets and debts
Notice regarding healthcare responsibilities


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The information on this website is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this website should be taken as legal advice for any individual case. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship or duty of confidentiality.