In many California divorces, each spouse often has a special affinity for keeping certain assets after the dissolution of a marriage. It may be a family home, a boat, a favorite car, or a family heirloom. To protect your interests, it is strongly advisable to talk with an attorney to understand what you want to protect and what you can do to make sure that you emerge from the divorce with the property you value most.
If you are seeking insight on how to protect your assets before and during divorce in California, talk with an experienced Divorce attorney to get your questions answered today.
Understanding Community Property in California Divorce
California is one of the handful of states that follows what is known as “community property” laws. Courts attempt to divide property to be equal when spouses are divorcing.
During a divorce, spouses often have different affinities for various properties. Some properties have more emotional value than financial value. Courts aim to divide property in a roughly equal manner.
How to Protect Specific Assets
The three concepts to keep in mind are separate property, settlement, and prenuptial. Let’s look at these three options for protecting your assets before and during a California divorce.
Provide Proof of Separate Property in a California Divorce
Separate property is defined in California under certain terms. There are several exceptions, but the key concept is that if you prove that a property is separate, it is kept out of a division entirely.
What constitutes separate property? Generally, it is a property that was acquired before the marriage. An example could be a boat or car purchased before the marriage. A gift to a single spouse during the marriage may also be considered separate. Further, an asset could be the proceeds of a separate property or if it was acquired after separation.
It is essential to understand the full scope of the law, as there are exceptions to these general guidelines. If you prove that a property meets the separate qualification, it can be protected from the divorce division. (Cal. Fam. Code § 770 (2022).)
Negotiate a Settlement to Protect Your Assets
For some couples, proving separate property is not an option. However, you are not out of options. Consider negotiating a settlement to protect your most beloved property.
Community property is the general guideline in California. Yet, there is room to negotiate the outcome. For instance, you may want to negotiate a house buyout at divorce by refinancing the mortgage or trading marital property. Talking with an experienced divorce lawyer can help you develop a plan to protect the assets you want to keep.
Revisit Your Prenuptial Agreement in a California Divorce
If you and your spouse had a prenuptial agreement, this can be a good time to revisit the terms. While it may have been years or decades since signing this, prenuptial agreements often spell out specific terms to protect properties.
Revisit the prenuptial terms as to what you agreed to retain in the event of a divorce. In California, legally enforceable prenuptial agreements may work in your favor, even over the general guidelines for equal division.
Practical Tips to Protect Your Assets During a Divorce
Consider taking steps to protect your assets. Some of these steps may seem almost ‘unthinkable’ at first, yet they can help you manage finances before and during a divorce process.
Take simple precautions, such as setting up separate bank accounts. Contact credit card companies to shut down joint accounts. If a spouse makes credit card purchases before or during the divorce, you would still be liable for half. Taking this precaution may save you the pain and financial agony.
Further, take a look at your outstanding debt and shared financial responsibilities. This may be a good time to talk with your financial advisor. Review any retirement accounts, savings accounts, and shared investments.
These steps can help protect you emotionally and financially. If you are not sure where to start, discuss the best next steps for practical action with your divorce lawyer.
Get in Touch With a California Divorce Attorney
If you would like to discuss how to protect specific assets in your California divorce, the Law Offices of David M. Lederman is here to help. Call 925-522-8889 or submit a contact form to set up a consultation.