When you get a divorce you will be required to make a lot of decisions. You’ll have to decide on a custody arrangement for your children. You’ll have to determine if you or your spouse will receive alimony after the split. Perhaps the most difficult decisions you will have to make will concern the division and assignment of your marital property. When you get divorced you and your spouse will go your separate ways. When you do so, however, you have to decide how the property (and debts) you have accumulated in your marriage will be split, as well.
Dividing your marital assets can be a very stressful task. Our Los Angeles divorce attorneys have provided a few tips to help you understand what to expect and prepare for the road ahead. Once you are ready to begin the asset division process, do not hesitate to call Fernandez & Karney for help.
Know What to Expect
It is important to understand what will be expected of you when you divide your marital assets. California is an equal division state, which means that each spouse is legally entitled to half of the marital estate. This includes both assets and liabilities that are classified as community property. Community property is essentially everything that you and your spouse have acquired since getting married. In fact, California law will presume that any property acquired during your marriage is community property. There are limited exceptions, such as gifts specifically to one spouse, but you will be required to prove that specific items are separate, rather than community, property.
When you get a divorce, you will be required to make a list of all of the property you own. This includes both community and separate property. When you are preparing for the formal divorce process it can help to create a running list of your property. It will be very important to be thorough when disclosing your assets during a divorce. Failure to fully disclose your assets, incomes, debts, and property can expose you to court-imposed sanctions and added legal headaches. Creating a preliminary list can help you to prepare appropriately.
Prioritize Your Wishes
Unless you have a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement, you will be entitled to receive exactly one half of the community property owned by you and your spouse. Certain things will be fairly simple to divide. For example, if you own two cars, it would make sense for each of you to walk away from your divorce with a vehicle. Or, if you collected rare coins, you could easily sell your collection and split to proceeds.
Other things will be more difficult to divide. Who gets the dinnerware and china set that you were given after you were married? What about the family dog? Who will get the family house in the divorce? What about accrued employee retirement benefits? Some of these items can be difficult to divide in a divorce. You and your spouse may both want the home, or one of you may want to sell it and split the profit. If you are awarded the family home, your spouse will have to receive property that is equal in value. What would you be willing to give up in exchange for a big-ticket item?
These are all important questions that you will have to face. When you are preparing for your divorce take the time to prioritize your assets. Take a look at the list of property you’ve started to create. What is most important to you? What do you absolutely want to walk away with after your divorce is finalized? Which property would you be most willing to give up? Making these decisions – even if only hypothetically – can help to streamline the division process and make the divorce itself less overwhelming.
Be Prepared to Communicate Openly
Even though you and your spouse are taking the steps to separate, honest and open communication is an essential component of a successful divorce. Hiding assets, being dishonest about your income, or trying to trick your spouse during the divorce will only make this contentious process more difficult. Do your best to prepare, put your personal feelings aside, and treat the process with respect.
The more open you are, the better your chances of walking away with the property that you most desire. If you do not believe that you and your spouse can have effective and open communication you may want to consider using mediation or a collaborative divorce process. Sometimes an unbiased third party can be very helpful in getting you and your spouse on the same page.
If you are interested in learning more about how to prepare for your divorce call the Los Angeles divorce attorneys at Fernandez & Karney. Our Certified Family Law Specialists have more than 50 years of combined legal experience and can help you achieve the best possible result in your California divorce. Call us today to schedule a free consultation. We will review your case, explain your rights, and answer any questions you have.