Practice Areas - Family Law

Complex Asset Division

Orange County & Riverside County Family Law Attorneys

 

In California, there is a simple rule that governs ownership of marital property: community property is all property that was acquired during the course of the marriage.  Separate property is all property that was acquired before marriage, or after legal separation or through inheritance.  

 

The general rule is that community assets are split equally, while separate assets are the property of the original owner.  Of course, it is not always so simple.  Separate property can become community property if the property is commingled - in other words, if the separate property is “shared” with the community property.  Debt incurred between a couple is treated the same as assets.

 

For example, if a husband owned a vintage car acquired before marriage, that car would be his separate property.  However, if during the marriage, he sold the car and put the proceeds of the sale into the family’s joint checking account, the money from the sale of the car would now become community property (it has “commingled” with the community property in the checking account).  On the other hand, if the husband sold the car and then put the proceeds of the sale into a separate checking account in his name alone, that money would remain his separate property.

 

During the course of a long-term marriage, memories can become hazy and fights over separate property assets can get ugly, quickly.  If one of the spouses is bringing significant assets into a marriage, that spouse may want to consider a prenuptial agreement to ensure that, if the marriage fails, there is not a dispute about what is, and is not, community property.  In divorces that involve high net worth individuals, there are several assets of significant value that may be at risk, including:

  • Vacation homes
  • Investment/rental properties
  • Businesses
  • Stock options

 

At Le, Clark & Ho, LLP, our Orange County & Riverside County family law attorneys are committed to using our expertise to ensure a fair settlement in your divorce.  If you have questions about how a divorce would affect your assets, contact us today to ensure that your interests are protected to the fullest extent of the law!

 

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