Asset Protection Attorney for Your California Divorce
It is very common in a divorce proceeding for one or both spouses to have specific assets that they want to make sure they keep once the divorce proceedings are all said and done. Whether it is a treasured piece of jewelry or art, a privately-held business, or a car or boat, you are not alone in wanting to keep your valued property to yourself following a divorce. Read on to learn from an asset protection attorney how you can go about protecting your treasured values and estate.
As a general matter, California is a community property state. This means that courts will generally divide equally any community property shared by the couple. Not all assets need to be sold off to partition the dollar value exactly equally, but courts will generally strive to dole out assets so as to give each party roughly half the total value of the shared marital estate. There are certain actions you can take to protect specific pieces of property in a California divorce, and a skilled divorce attorney will be able to help you structure your assets and your case to give you the best shot possible to keep your treasured property.
Proving the Asset You Want to Keep is Separate Property
Likely the best way to keep your property out of the divorce is to prove that it is actually “separate property” and thus not up for grabs as part of the marital estate in a divorce.
Community property, which is subject to division between the parties in divorce, includes “…all property, real or personal, wherever situated, acquired by a married person during the marriage while domiciled in this state…” Separate property, on the other hand, includes:
- Property owned by one party before the marriage,
- Property acquired by inheritance, devise, bequest, or gift to one specific party,
- Rents or proceeds generated from that property,
- Earnings of a spouse, and any earnings of minor children living with that spouse, while the parties are living separately.
There are specific exceptions to these rules, and additional specialized categories, but generally speaking if you can prove an asset falls into one of these categories, you can keep it separate and not subject to division in the divorce. If you can, for example, trace the funds used to purchase property during the marriage to the sale of property you owned before a marriage (e.g., you sell a house you owned before and use the money to buy a new home while married), you may be able to establish that the new property should be treated as separate. A family law attorney can help guide you through proving that your property was purchased using separate funds.
Negotiating a Settlement In Which You Keep the Property You Want
If you cannot prove that a certain asset is separate but you want to keep it after the marriage, you will need to work with your family law attorney to negotiate keeping that property as part of the divorce settlement. Courts will try to split the overall value of the marital estate roughly evenly, but they are happy to enforce agreements whereby each spouse gets certain assets in the divorce that leave both sides with a close total asset value. Let your attorney know what property you want to keep, and they will work with you to determine what other property or concessions your spouse might take in exchange.
Adhering to a Prenuptial Agreement
Because of California’s broad community property definition, we strongly encourage protecting your assets before marriage via a prenuptial agreement. If you have a valid prenuptial agreement that specifies that certain assets are protected, California courts will keep those assets out of the divorce proceedings even if they otherwise would be subject to division. To make sure the agreement is enforceable, it is important to have a seasoned attorney help craft a legally viable prenuptial agreement.
Get Sound Advice and Professional Assistance Protecting Your Assets in a California Divorce
For effective, passionate and professional help protecting your assets or resolving other family law issues in California, contact a divorce and family law attorney at the Claremont offices of Blasser Law at 877-927-2181.