In the confusion following a divorce filing, you may wonder what will happen to your assets. Dividing something as abstract as your marital assets between you and your ex-partner may seem intimidating. However, in order for your divorce to be considered official and final, you often must do this essential step.
In this context, “property” refers to a combination of valuable assets owned independently or jointly between partners, such as retirement funds, that have been accumulated over the course of the marriage. These assets may have once been shared between you and your ex-partner or were owned independently by you.
While you and your ex-partner can simply sell your assets and divide the profit between you, this is not always feasible. Often, disagreements arise on who owns what. A family law attorney can help you determine your entitled amount from your property. Knowing what the court may do if asked to divide your marital property can free you and your ex-partner to come up with a more creative property settlement that may be a preferable outcome for both parties.
When determining how much your assets are worth, you need to make a list of everything you and your partner own. Often, property is not valued in how much it is worth financially, but its value, equity and other desirable qualities. For instance, when determining how much your home is worth, an appraiser may use a Comparative Market Analysis. Here, your property’s value is compared in relation to the area you live in, which is its market value. Another method is a retrospective analysis, which considers the former price of their property in the past.
No matter what method is used, the valuation must be accurate so that both partners are fairly compensated. Once your property’s worth is sorted out, the courts will decide how much you are compensated for and how that worth is distributed between you and your partner.
There are two methods used to divide property, depending on where you live. Some states use equitable distribution. With this method, the property is divided fairly between both partners. However, “fairly” does not always mean equally. Equitable distribution does not necessarily guarantee both partners will receive the same exact amount.
California is a community property state, meaning property is divided equally between the partners. This is done regardless of whether a certain partner contributed more since this method assumes both partners made equivalent financial contributions to that which was gained during the marriage. You may wonder what happens to the assets you believe you own. To be considered separate property, you must provide evidence that the assets are yours.
A common concern is wondering who gets to stay in the family home. In most cases involving a couple and their children, the parent with primary custody remains in the house. However, there are several other options, such as selling the house and splitting the profit or continuing to share ownership. The best action for you depends on many variables specific to your situation and the willingness of the other parent.
You often cannot effectively divide your property on your own. The assistance of a family law attorney is essential to ensuring that you receive your rightful wealth and that the legal backdrop is understood so the property settlement is equitable. Our attorneys have assisted clients with property valuation and division in the past and we are here to help you be informed and confident through this process. Give us a call today.
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