It is bad enough that the marriage has ended. You feel defeated-like a failure. It is hard to see now that you will recover from this divorce. To add insult to injury, you now have to divide your house and your stuff. You worked hard for what you have. Who gets what? Do you even have any say in what you will get to keep? Will you be able to keep the house? Can you force your spouse to sell it? What happens to the pension and the student loans? The thought of having to move is overwhelming. You need someone who has been through the process before to sort this all out. Below is some information to help you understand the laws surrounding California property.
In a California divorce, the parties always have the ability to agree to a fair property settlement without the necessity of litigation. However, if the parties cannot agree on their own, the court will make orders to divide the property according to California state law.
- Community property– Absent a written agreement, the law requires an equal division of the community estate. For the most part, in California, property acquired from the date of marriage until the date of separation is community property. Community property is an asset earned during the marriage through time, effort or skill during marriage. It is divided equally during a divorce unless there is a written agreement to some other arrangement.
- Gifts and Inheritance– Unless a gift or inheritance was given jointly to both parties, it will be awarded as the sole and separate asset of the person who received it. This is because gifts and inheritance are not earned through time, effort or skill, and are, therefore, not community property.
- Per Capita Income– Money received from an Indian Reservation for being the member of a particular tribe is the sole and separate asset of the person who received it. Anything purchased with that money is the sole and separate asset of that person. This is because the money is not earned using time, effort or skill. It is earned as a result of one’s heritage.
- Community Debt– Like assets, almost all debts acquired during the marriage are community and are divided equally.
- Retirement Benefits– When a married person accumulates an interest in a pension, retirement, profit sharing, or other employee benefit plan during the marriage, the part accumulated during the marriage is community property. In California, the retirement or pension plan is then divided using a court order called a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO). A QDRO is a set of instructions that helps determine how much money is to be paid to each party.
- Military Retirement– There are separate rules for military retirement. Federal law does not recognize a spouse’s right to receive military retirement unless the parties were married for ten years or more.
- Family Residence– Where minor children are involved, the primary parent may be allowed to remain in the marital home. This can be done by delaying the sale of the home or structuring a property settlement to award the house to the primary parent. One common settlement term is to allow both spouses to remain on title until the youngest child graduates from high school. Later, the house can be sold and the profits split equally.
- Separate Property– Separate property is anything acquired by a spouse before the marriage, during the marriage by gift, devise, or bequest, and after the parties separate. It is awarded to the spouse who owns it.
- Separate Debts– Debts incurred during the marriage are usually equally divided. They are divided to the person who incurred them. Debts accumulated after the date of separation are awarded to the party who incurred them. Similarly, after separation of the parties, the earnings and accumulations of each party are the separate property of the party who earned the asset.
- Student Loans– While most debts accumulated during the marriage are the joint obligation of both spouses, student loans are the exception. They are the separate obligation of the person who incurred them. Unless the spouses co-signed for the debt, a student loan will be the obligation of only one party.
Disclaimer: The above rules are merely generalities and should not be construed as legal advice and should not be acted upon or relied upon in any way. If you have specific questions about any of the above, please call our office for more information.
Divorce Who Stays in the Home?
Divorce Who Stays in the Home?
Your spouse has threatened to divorce you many times before. You have often thought about it yourself. However, every time the prospect came up, you realized how much you have to lose. You have worked hard to achieve safety and security. The inevitable is now happening and the divorce is real. You and your spouse are separating. Fear has begun to set in. You wonder, what is going to happen to me now? How am I going to make ends meet? What is going to happen to everything I worked for my whole life? You also feel guilty over how the divorce is going to affect the children. How are they going to handle the divorce? Will they be scarred for life?
Frequently, couples who are going through a divorce worry about what is going to happen to their most valuable asset- their family home. Usually, the parent who is hoping to get primary custody of the children wants to stay in the home. Parents rarely want their children to suffer because of their mistakes. Most parents believe it is best if the children experience minimal disruption after the divorce.
Owning a home is part of the American dream. Many people feel that homeownership is a sign of personal and financial success. The family home is not only an asset, it represents financial security and a sense of self-worth. The family home becomes part of one’s identity. Most people become emotionally attached to their home. Having to face the prospect of divorce, coupled with the prospect of losing one’s home and uprooting the children is frequently more change than one can take. For this reason, the goal in a divorce is often to stay in the family home.
Whether or not you will be able to stay in the house depends upon a variety of factors. Some of them are listed below. If you are going through a divorce and hope to remain in your home as part of the settlement, one of the most important factors will be whether the home was bought during the marriage. If your spouse bought the home before you were married, it may be more difficult to receive the home as part of the property settlement. A list of the factors that are looked at when deciding who will remain in the home are:
- Are both parties still in the home?
- Did one of them voluntarily leave the house?
- Was the house bought during the marriage?
- Did one spouse buy the home before marriage?
- Are both parties on the title of the home?
- Does one parent have sole custody of the children?
- How much is owed on the house?
- Is the house payment current?
- How much is the monthly payment?
- Is there equity in the home?
- Can either spouse qualify to refinance the house?
- Is the spouse who wants to keep the home employed?
- How much will the spousal and child support order be?
- Will one spouse agree to allow the other to keep the home?
- Can the parties agree that one spouse stays in the house until the children graduate?
- How old are the children?
- Is there any domestic violence?
- Is there savings or retirement money?
Oftentimes, your attorney will be able to help negotiate a fair settlement that includes remaining in the home. This could be by coming up with a creative solution in the divorce settlement, negotiating a delay in the sale date of the home, or helping the client find money in the divorce to buy the other party out. If you are going through a divorce and are interested in saving the family home, we will work together with you to help you achieve this goal. For more information, please call our office or email us. We are here to help.
Divorce Asset Protection
Going through a divorce will have a devastating effect on your finances. There is no way around it. What was once one household will now become two. The same amount of income you relied on to support your family will now have to be divided between two households. Even so, there are some things that you can do to make lessen impact of your divorce. Please see the checklist below:
- Get a written agreement before you marry. The first line of defense against being ruined financially in a divorce is to enter into a prenuptial agreement. This will help determine who gets what in the event you ever get a divorce.
- Get a written agreement after you marry. If you are married and not separated, you and your spouse can enter into a postnuptial agreement. Like a prenuptial agreement, this agreement will help determine how property is divided if you ever get a divorce. However, this agreement is made after you are already married.
- Get a written agreement after you separate. If you are already separated, you and your spouse can enter into a marital settlement agreement. This will determine how your property is divided in the divorce.
- Inventory your valuables. Keep track of all your valuables by photographing them and keeping them in a safe place. You may also want to have them appraised and insured by your homeowner’s or renter’s insurance.
- Keep your inheritance separate. If you were given money or valuable gifts, make sure that you keep documents of where the items came from. If you inherited money or were gifted money, be sure to keep those bank accounts in your name only. Do not add your spouse to any accounts holding inherited money or gifted money.
- Do not add your spouse to your house title. If you owned a home before you married your spouse. Never add your spouse to the title of your home.
- Take all your personal property from the house when you leave. If you and your spouse are separating and you choose to be the one to move out of the home, take every personal item you wish to keep. Assume that any personal property left in the home will be lost to you forever.
- Take half the money from the bank. If you and your spouse have a savings account, consult with an attorney. If advised by your attorney, take half the savings before you separate and leave the rest for your spouse.
- Freeze all pension and retirement accounts. If you and your spouse have accumulated a pension plan or a retirement plan together, make sure your attorney freezes those accounts.
- Cancel all joint credit cards. If you and your spouse have credit cards together, make sure you cancel them or take your name off the card so your credit is not negatively affected by your spouse’s spending habits.
- Keep all pink slips to vehicles safe. If you and your spouse own vehicles that are paid off, make sure the pink slips to the vehicles are kept in a safe place.
- Make Copies of All Important Documents. You’ll need to have copies of all important documents before you leave your residence. This includes tax returns, paycheck stubs, W-2 statements, profit and loss statements, retirement information, loan information, and business records for any business you and/or your spouse owns.
- Disclose all your assets in the divorce. Make sure you divulge all your assets in the divorce. If you are not honest, you risk losing the asset entirely.
- Get your spouse’s financial records. You have the right to obtain financial information from your spouse. Make sure your attorney helps you gain access to your spouse’s financial records before entering into any divorce agreement.
As a celebrity, your name is a household word. Your face is recognized by the people around you. When the possibility of a divorce becomes a sad reality, you need the best protection money can buy. You have accumulated some measure of fame, and also some measure of wealth. Now that your marriage has ended, your assets need to be protected. As a celebrity, the stakes are higher than it is for the average Joe. Your reputation and your livelihood is also at stake. A nasty divorce can ruin you.
At Family Law Matters, we have the knowledge and experience to understand the complexities and nuances of a celebrity divorce. We are highly skilled negotiators and aggressive litigators. Whether you are a high asset individual, a business owner, an athlete, a musician or a public figure, do yourself a favor and hire the best.
As a celebrity, high asset individual or business owner, you need an objective professional to offer you sound legal advice. Knowing when to negotiate, what terms to ask for, and when stand your ground is crucial. Whether it is by way of settlement, mediation, or in a courtroom, you need to maximize your chances of getting the best possible results. As skillful and experienced attorneys, we know when and how to litigate, what arguments will persuade the court, what experts to hire, and how to strategically plan your case. There is no substitute for this. We also know how to resolve your legal issues quickly and quietly.
If you are a celebrity or a high-asset individual, our skilled lawyers understand your need for discreet, competent, and well-prepared representation. Not only are we aggressive, compassionate, and capable, our firm is committed to providing you with the personal and attentive service you expect. We understand that protecting your privacy and your assets during your divorce are your top priorities. We have represented public figures in the past, including actors and musicians. We will capably and zealously represent you in settlement negotiations and at trial, if necessary.
If you are married to a high net worth individual or a celebrity, including an actor, musician, or athlete, do not be taken advantage of. As an “out spouse” you are someone who has less resources to harness than your powerful spouse. You need a divorce attorney who is capable of properly protecting you and demanding that you receive your fair share. We have represented spouses and significant others of athletes and high net worth individuals. You owe it to yourself and your children to demand a proper settlement. To fight this battle, you need the best lawyers money can buy. Call us for help.
Whether your matter is resolved through negotiation, mediation, or litigation, we understand the importance of preserving your estate. Our celebrity divorce lawyers will first attempt to negotiate a fair settlement for you and enlist the proper experts to help maximize your results. If not possible, we are prepared to present your case at trial with our team of lawyers.
If you have not reached celebrity status, but are a business owner or high net worth individual going through divorce, we have represented many people just like you. We have the experience and expertise to litigate complex property issues. We are comfortable with divorces involving corporations and business ventures. We are well-versed reading balance sheets, tax returns and expert witness reports. Let us help you preserve what you have worked for all your life. Call us now to make an appointment for a consultation. We look forward to helping you get through this stage of your life so you can move on to bigger and better endeavors.