When a couple ends their relationship, they will need to apportion their property and any obligations between themselves. For some, determining who gets what is a relatively straightforward matter. For a myriad of reasons, however, some parties to a divorce often find this a difficult task. At the other end of the spectrum, an apparently easy settlement agreement may be fraught with hidden problems, such as unexpected tax ramifications or misunderstood valuation of assets, which, once understood, may render the seemingly fair property division quite inequitable.
While parties can freely make any fair settlement of their estate, under California law each party is entitled to receive an equal share (by value) of the community property accumulated during the marriage. “Community property” includes virtually anything of value acquired through earnings or accumulation of the spouses’: real estate, personal property, vehicles, bank accounts or other investments, retirement benefits, business interests, royalty payments, stock options, etc. Assets owned prior to marriage or acquired during the marriage by gift or inheritance are considered the separate property of the owner and not subject to equal division on divorce.
If these assets are a combination of community property and separate property, for example, retirement benefits – they may have been acquired by a combination of community (during marriage) and separate (before marriage or after separation) efforts and contributions. A home may have been acquired through a combination of community and separate funds. Because life is complicated, the law has many rules, and many exceptions to the rules, to fairly deal with a variety of commonly-recurring situations affecting the valuation and distribution of marital assets.
Law Offices of Thomas G. Borst, Inc., specializes in helping our clients through such rules, and in assisting with the negotiation of agreements that are fair to both parties. Where our client is less powerful or does not have equal access to the necessary information about community assets or obligations, we will ensure full discovery and disclosure of relevant facts, and we will aggressively pursue an appropriate division of the community property estate.