Skilled Claremont Family Law Attorneys for Complex Property Division in Difficult California Divorce Cases
Divorce is never easy. Even in an amicable proceeding or summary dissolution procedure, the parties still face an emotional process and must be careful to make sure every aspect of the divorce is handled properly to protect their interests and achieve their goals. When the divorce includes complex issues over property division, the matter becomes much more complicated, requiring the assistance of skilled and knowledgeable divorce lawyers who have handled these complex matters in the past and know how to deal with them appropriately.
At Blasser Law, we have decades of experience helping people navigate the most challenging aspects of their divorce, including complex property division issues. Below we discuss some of the factors that can make the property division in a divorce especially difficult. If you are dealing with issues like these, or if you need a helping hand to guide you through child custody, alimony and other crucial areas of your divorce, call Blasser Law for a consultation with a skilled and experienced California family law attorney. From our office in Claremont, we help people throughout Los Angeles and the San Gabriel Valley get through their divorce with their rights and dignity intact and their goals met, no matter how simple or complex.
Factors That Create Complex Property Division Issues in California Divorce Cases
California is a “community property” state. Unlike most other states where the court divides the marital property in any way the judge deems is “equitable” or “fair and just,” in California all marital property is deemed community property, where each spouse owns an equal and undivided 50% share in every piece of community property. California courts are therefore bound to divide property as equally as possible, given the circumstances. When an asset cannot physically be divided and still retain its value, either the asset has to be sold and the proceeds split, or the court must grant one asset to one party and an asset of like value to another party to keep the distribution equal. It’s important to remember that community property includes liabilities as well as assets; community debts must also be equally divided.
This legal requirement makes it critical that every piece of property that is characterized as community property is accurately valued, but not all assets are so easy to value. This is where property division can become especially complex. Below are some of the most complex assets to divide:
Businesses – A business can be considered community property in many different ways: If a couple started a business together; if one party contributed separate assets or community assets to the other party’s business; or if the business grew in value during the marriage thanks in part to the contributions of the non-owning spouse… these are just some examples. The business must therefore be accurately valued, but business valuations are notoriously complex. California divorce law recognizes two different methods of business valuations, and each method of accounting can yield different valuations. Choosing the right method given the type of business is critical, as is conducting the valuation correctly. Expert assistance from forensic accountants may be necessary, and the more complex the business, the more complicated the business valuation and subsequent division.
Pensions and Retirement Accounts – Even though you might think your pension belongs to you separately, this is not typically the case in California. An account created during marriage is community property, as is the growth in value of any account created before marriage. The length of the marriage and the age of the plan must be factored in to determine how much of the pension the non-earning spouse might be entitled to. California courts have different methods available for dividing pensions and retirement accounts. In some cases, a Qualified Domestic Relations Order must also be obtained before the plan administrator can distribute benefits to someone who isn’t the plan participant. Blasser Law provides the experience and expertise necessary to help clients understand the division of pensions and retirement accounts and ensure they are divided appropriately.
Hidden Assets – Another factor that can make for a complex property division occurs when one party is thought to be hiding assets from the other party or the court. For example, property could be hidden in offshore accounts or laundered through various companies and complex financial transactions to erase its original character or conceal its source. There may be legitimate reasons behind such complex maneuvers as well; understanding and identifying hidden sources of income often requires special skill and expertise.
Prenuptial Agreements – Prenuptial and post-nuptial agreements often address property issues, setting out whether particular assets will be considered marital or separate. While in some ways having an agreement in place can streamline the property division, it can also make the process more complex by adding another layer that must be addressed, including interpreting the terms of the agreement and litigating any challenges to its validity or enforceability.
Contact Blasser Law in Claremont for Help With Complex Property Division in Your California Divorce in Los Angeles or the San Gabriel Valley
For skilled and knowledgeable assistance with complex property division in your California divorce, call Blasser Law at 877-927-2181. Located in Claremont, we serve clients throughout Los Angeles and the San Gabriel Valley, offering compassionate advice and zealous advocacy to protect your rights and help you meet your goals.