Division of Property

Division of Property If you are seeking counsel in the San Francisco/San Jose Bay Area concerning property division issues in connection with a separation or divorce,including the valuation and distribution of your joint assets, our lawyers at Sagaria Law, P.C. can help you and your spouse or partner work to resolve these issues.

Community Property

The state of California is a community property state, which means that all property acquired by a couple during the marriage is considered "community property" and—unless otherwise agreed upon or barring a premarital agreement—must be equally divided in terms of total net value when the marriage is dissolved. California defines community property as any income earned or asset acquired by someone while married to another person. Property obtained before or during the marriage as a gift or inheritance is considered separate property. Any debts incurred by either person during the marriage is considered community property debt.

In order to ensure the equal division of property, the amount of assets do not have to be equally split, but the value must be equal. For example, one person may get the vacation house in Monterey and the two cars, while the other person may get the more expensive house located in Santa Clara County in the city of Palo Alto.

A family law attorney can help you work with your ex-spouse or former partner to figure out how to best divide your assets. If the two of you are unable to agree on how to divide the property, a judge may divide the property for you.

Once a property division is agreed upon or mandated by a judge, the agreement is very difficult to revise. Most states will allow a certain time period when a request can be made called the Motion to Vacate the Judgment (sometimes known as a Motion to Reconsider) so that the party can explain why the court may have made a mistake when ordering the property division. Duress and fraud are two other reasons that are given when requesting a motion to reconsider. A party can also appeal their case with a higher court if they are not happy with the division of property order that was granted to them. Appealing the case can be costly and time consuming, and you will need a lawyer to represent you in court when you make your appeal.

Hiding Assets

Hiding assets during a divorce is against the law, yet it does happen. Some ways in which a spouse may try to hide their assets:

  • Paying wages to a nonexistent employer
  • Getting an employer to postpone raises, bonuses, or other options
  • Setting up a custodial account in the child's name
  • Not reporting certain income
  • Skimming money from their own business
  • Undervaluing certain collectibles
  • Not telling their spouse about certain accounts
  • Hiding money in their child's bank account
  • Placing assets in a safety deposit box

If you find yourself wondering if your spouse has hidden any of your community property assets, you may want to ask a lawyer for help.

Domestic Partners

Since January 2005, registered domestic partners are now allowed many of the same rights as married couples, and by California law, they must  equally divide their property when they decide to dissolve their union. The new law is retroactive to the date that the domestic partnership was registered. This means that any property acquired by a couple that registered their partnership before January 2005 will be considered community property. Domestic partners who are registered in California are also free to sign a pre-partnership agreement that will allow them to make their own decisions about how their property will be divided. It's important to note that because many states won't recognize a domestic partnership that was registered in California, these rights won't necessarily be upheld in another state.

If you are going through a divorce or legal separation and you would like to speak with an attorney about how to divide your property, Sagaria Law, P.C. can help you. CONTACT US ONLINE, OR CALL US AT 1-866-447-8460 TO SCHEDULE A CONSULTATION. WE HAVE OFFICES IN SAN JOSE, FREMONT, REDWOOD CITY, AND SACRAMENTO.