Complex Property Division in California
A California divorce that involves significant assets can be both complicated and contentious without proper planning. Fortunately, parties can take strategic steps to simplify the process as well as protect valuable property.
Couples with high-net-worth can protect their assets both before and after they are married. While no one enters a marriage with plans to divorce, those whose holdings include business interests, professional practices, investment portfolios, pensions, retirement accounts, or other valuable items shouldn’t take risks.
Johnson Attorneys Group Handles Complex Property Division in Orange County
If you live in Orange County and need help resolving issues related to complex property division during a high-net-worth divorce, you should consult with an experienced family law attorney at Johnson Attorneys Group. Located in Newport Beach, we show clients what to do and when to do it to ensure that their assets are protected.
To reach a fair and amicable agreement outside of court, our dedicated divorce attorneys will conduct careful research and aggressive negotiation with your spouse’s attorneys and experts. It is our goal to negotiate a fair settlement without it becoming a bitter legal battle. However, due to the complicated nature of a high-net-worth divorce, we are prepared to go to trial when necessary.
Property Division Laws in California Divorces
Under California law, with certain exceptions, property, assets, and debts acquired during marriage become community property and are owned by both spouses equally. This means that if a couple divorces, the assets will be documented and divided equally between them.
It can be complicated when one or both spouses are wealthy with substantial property, business interests, and other assets that are subject to division. It’s vital that these businesses, properties, assets, and debts are first valued at fair market. A qualified family law attorney may do this by consulting a financial expert in some cases.
The most common dispute between couples is determining if some assets are separate property belonging to one spouse and not the other.
Community Property Vs. Separate Property in California
Separate property is property and assets that were owned prior to the marriage by either spouse. It is also acquired during the marriage by inheritance, gift, or by purchase with separate property funds. Unless the parties agree otherwise, the Court will award separate property to the spouse who acquired it. Yet, the spouse who acquired the separate property has the burden of proof to establish the property should be treated as such.
Fortunately, you can override California’s community property laws. A couple that has a prenuptial agreement or postnuptial agreement can define the terms of their separation before or after they are married by stipulating who gets what.
Keep in mind that couples with substantial assets may face a considerably longer divorce process. Under normal circumstances, the more property there is to characterize, appraise, and distribute, the longer it takes to finalize the divorce, even when the parties agree. If the parties cannot agree, divorce can take years.
The divorce attorneys at Johnson Attorneys Group have significant experience handling these types of cases in Orange County.
Some of the high-value assets at risk in these types of complex divorces include: