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San Diego Community Property Attorneys

Separate and Community Property Division During a San Diego Divorce

When a marriage ends, the last thing you want to do is divide your property up with your ex-spouse. The process can be even more tedious if you and the other party both had considerable property prior to marriage and have acquired more assets since. Emotions can run high as couples are forced to divide the money, property, and belongings that were acquired during a marriage.

As San Diego marital property attorneys, we understand the anger and frustration you feel while dividing your assets into portions. Our San Diego family law firm specializes in complex property issues and will work quickly to resolve your property situation so your case can move forward as quickly as possible. If you have a large number of assets, then it is important you claim them accurately. Do not attempt to handle this process alone; doing so can have ramifications on your future. Contact Mattis Law, A.P.C. at (858) 328-4400 and schedule a free consultation.

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What Is Community Property?

Community property is any property the couple owned together during the course of the marriage and is sometimes referred to as marital property. Anything that was acquired by the couple during marriage – homes, automobiles, and even debt – can be considered community property, although gifts and inheritances are usually excluded. Community property also includes the income of both spouses during the marriage, along with anything purchased with those earnings.

This means that even if one spouse saved money from his/her own paycheck every week or month and used that money to buy something to be used personally, it would still partially belong to the other spouse. Pension plans can also fall under community property. If that pension plan was earned during the marriage, it would be considered community property.

The same community property standards hold true even for debt. Even if only one person acquires debt during the course of the marriage under his/her own name, that debt would still belong to both spouses equally.

Determining what is and is not community property is important during your divorce proceedings. Property that you acquired prior to your marriage, such as a paid off car or jewelry, can be considered separate property as long as you never allowed it to co-mingle with your community property. When it comes time to divide your property in your divorce, your separate property should be left out of the proceeding. Pre-nuptials and post-nuptials can also define whether your property is community or separate, allowing you to better understand how to divide your property.

However, there are some complicated issues you may need to address around community property.

Quasi-Community Property

Quasi-community property is any property that was acquired while one or both spouses were married in a state other than California. This applies to property that would normally, in California, be considered community property. For the purposes of a San Diego divorce, quasi-community property is counted as community property.

Commingling Property

Commingled property is property that can be considered both separate and community. It can be tricky to determine who legally gets what.

For instance, if one person owned a home before the marriage but sold it for a down payment on a marital home, the equity in the house is "commingled." While the down payment would be considered separate property, because the money used for it was not part of the marriage, the mortgage payments would be considered community property, since they were paid with earnings during the marriage.

Pension plans can also be commingled if the job was held before and during the marriage. In these cases, any amounts added to the pension plan before marriage would be considered separate property, while those added after the marriage would be community property.

The laws surrounding pension plans are very complicated and specific, so it is best to get an attorney to help with these matters. In fact, the division of any type of property can quickly make a divorce very complicated, and it happens in just about every single divorce case. Because of this, it’s advised that both spouses get their own attorney to ensure they get a fair settlement.

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Disputes Around Community Property

Property division can quickly become complicated in a San Diego contested divorce. Community property is equally divided, and individual parties are able to retain all separate property. Many items are often split, such as the marital home or the family vehicle, by selling off the property and sharing the profits or trading property create a fair deal.

There are often occasions, however, in which the line becomes blurry. Some examples of property division disputes, arising in divorces, include:

  • Property that is acquired during the marriage that is a gift, bequest, or inheritance made by a third person for the exclusive benefit of one spouse, but is comingled with marital assets.
  • When one spouse improves, pays for upgrades, or remodels separate property that belonged to another spouse.
  • When one spouse possessed money, a savings account, or other financial accounts prior to marriage, but comingled the finances with marital assets.
  • When one spouse is the primary owner and operator of a business that was started during the marriage.

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Solutions for Dividing Community Property

If there is not a clear line between separate and marital property, then it may be necessary to hire forensic accountants to analyze the financial records. A forensic accountant can comb through your community property to determine who has sole ownership of certain property and what property is considered marital. They can also assist with identifying any hidden assets that one spouse may try to keep out of divorce proceedings or calculate the value of complex property, such as cryptocurrencies.

Our San Diego family law firm maintain professional relationships with a number of trustworthy consultants. Our office will immediately determine whether your assets require specialized assistance and outline a plan to begin separating your marital property. We can represent you through all divorce proceedings to reach a mutually beneficial agreement in mediation or to ensure you receive fair treatment from a family law court. There are several ways that we can help you divided your community property, including:

  • Assigning separate property to the correct owner
  • Negotiating settlement agreements for community property
  • Advising both sides to sell off certain property and split the proceeds
  • Facilitating trades for certain property

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Protect Your Community Property Rights

Our office has successfully helped numerous San Diego residents retain the property they possessed prior to marriage. We have also successfully classified property as belonging to the community when the opposing spouse wished to claim it as separate. Our experience and knowledge guarantee your assets will be protected. If you need assistance with characterizing and dividing your property, please contact us today.

Our experience allows us to employ multiple strategies to ensure that your California marital property rights are protected. Our knowledge in the area of family law is unmatched by other attorneys in the San Diego area. Our track record of obtaining favorable outcomes for clients speaks for itself, as shown in the testimonials about our services. We offer free and confidential consultations to anyone facing divorce in San Diego.

Call our office at (858) 328-4400 and schedule a free consultation with a divorce lawyer in San Diego.

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Additional Information

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