One of the most important and controversial parts of divorce proceedings is the division of property. During a California divorce proceeding, all properties will need to be divided between the two parties. However, before dividing the property or engaging in property settlement, it is important to identify and locate all valuable assets belonging to each spouse. The assets are then divided between the spouses depending on how each asset is labeled or identified.
Two Common Types of Assets: Separate Property & Community Property
All assets acquired by both spouses during marriage are presumed to be community property. California law defines community property as any asset acquired or income earned by either spouse during a marriage. At the time of divorce, community property is split equally between the parties.
Separate property is defined as anything acquired by a spouse before the marriage or during the marriage by gift, devise, or bequest. Separate property also refers to any asset acquired by either spouse after they are legally separate. At the time of divorce, any property that is labeled as separate property belongs to the spouse who acquired it.
Since the division of property depends on how it is labeled, it is important that each asset is both located and labeled.
Hidden & Overlooked Assets in Divorces
Dividing the spouse’s assets during a divorce can be quite difficult, especially if there are significant assets such as stock options, professional practices or closely-held businesses. Asset division can also be tricky because some assets can be easily overlooked or even hidden during divorce proceedings and legal separations. This is why it is particularly important to hire an experienced Central Valley divorce attorney to protect your legal rights.
Below is a non-exhaustive list of assets that are easily overlooked or hidden during divorce proceedings:
1. Frequent flyer mileage
2. Security deposits (e.g., utilities, car lease)
3. Timeshare property
4. Leased vehicles, cell phone, other items
5. Stock options
6. Memberships (e.g., country club)
7. Bond or deposit for country club
8. Unused vacation, sick leave
9. Patents, copyrights, royalties
10. Income tax refunds
11. Income tax capital loss carry-forwards
12. Small business retained earnings
13. Stock options
14. Special retirement benefits (“golden parachutes”)
15. Retirement – life insurance benefits, medical benefits, and survivor benefits
16. Contract rights from marital employment (e.g., insurance renewal payments for agent)
17. Life insurance cash surrender value (or perhaps death benefit if insured is elderly)
18. Entertainment tickets, season ticket options
19. Business vehicle for personal use
20. Prepaid rent, leases, subscriptions
Call an Experienced Central Valley Divorce Attorney
If you are going through a divorce or are planning to file for divorce in the near future, you need to hire an experienced divorce attorney to help protect your legal rights and make sure this already traumatic experience proceeds as smoothly and painlessly as possible.
For more information or to schedule a complimentary consultation with Central Valley divorce attorney Gurjit Srai, please call us at (209) 323-5558 or (559) 449-1447, or complete our online form.