Practice Areas

Property Settlements

The division of assets in a divorce can depend on a multitude of factors, including, but not limited to, the nature of the property to be divided, tax consequences of the division of certain assets, wasting of assets by one party during the marriage, which spouse has the capability of earning more than the other spouse, and bad acts by one party during the marriage.  Property accrued during the marriage is presumed to be community property, but in some circumstances individuals have separate property that is not part of the community estate.  If the parties cannot agree, the court will determine whether the property to be divided is characterized as community or separate.  The person claiming separate property must prove that the property claimed was acquired prior to the marriage, acquired through inheritance, gift, or bequest, or can be traced to separate property funds.  Dividing the property accumulated between the parties during a marriage involves valuation of assets, characterization of assets, and in a complex estate, additional experts are often utilized to assist with valuation and proving the character of certain property.  Proving the character and value of property is a very document-driven process.  For each asset or debt that is at issue, each spouse must typically show a document or chain of documents (i.e. bank statements, retirement statements, stock grants, appraisals, credit card statements, mortgage statements, titles for vehicles, real property documents like deeds of trusts and notes, etc.) to prove the original and current value of the property involved.  When preparing to meet with your attorney, it is a good idea to come up with a general list of what assets and debts have been accumulated during the marriage and whether there are certain assets which you believe were given to you by gift or bequest during the marriage or owned by you prior to the marriage.