Property Division

At Larose Law, we know that the division of community property can be confusing. Our divorce lawyers are here to explain how the law applies to your assets and marriage.

Understanding Of The Property Division Process

California is a community property state, which generally means that property acquired after the date of marriage and up to the date of separation is presumed to be "community" – jointly owned in equal proportion by each spouse.

What is the date of separation? The date of separation is that date when one of you decided the marriage was over and took steps to act on that decision such as when a spouse moved out of the family home and got another residence.

In general, this means all funds and value in all financial accounts, including bank accounts, money market accounts, certificates of deposit and individual retirement accounts as of the date of separation belong equally to each spouse in equal proportion, even if the accounts are in the name of just one spouse.

Accumulated stock options may belong equally to both spouses. But, it is also possible that all existing debts belong equally to both spouses. It means 401(k)s and pensions could be entirely community property. It could mean all equity in the family home may be community property. It means all cars and furniture purchased after the date of marriage could belong to each of you equally.

What If The Situation Is More Complex?

There are, of course, exceptions to the presumption that all property acquired after marriage could be community. Property acquired by gift or inheritance is generally a person's "separate" property, not community property. Property acquired under the color of a prenuptial agreement, or a writing done after the date of marriage and before the date of separation that reflects a clear understanding that the character or ownership of a property item has been changed.

Some property may be a combination of "separate" and "community" property. For example, a 401(k) that a spouse was contributing into before and after the date of marriage may be commingled property.

Many times clients meet with us to prepare for divorce before there is an actual date of separation. Sometimes, clients can have multiple dates of separation, for example, when there have been multiple periods of separation and reconciliation.

The characterization of every property item is an incredibly important part of family law and can be incredibly complex. For example, businesses started during marriage are presumed to be community property. The valuation of a business for proper awarding and allocation during a divorce can be a daunting activity for many family law attorneys. The characterization and allocation of stock options can also challenge the most experienced family law attorneys. It is vital to seek qualified and experienced legal counsel in such matters.

We Have The Experience You Need

To schedule a free consultation, please call 510-742-6100 or contact us online. The Law Offices of Jonathan D. Larose, APC, has offices in Fremont and Walnut Creek.