How are assets and debts to be divided in a Carlsbad divorce? Property division can be one of the significant challenges in many divorce cases. The division of property includes any asset, debt, property or liability owned or owed by either of the parties or both.
The divorce begins with financial disclosures by both parties. Property disclosures should include, but are not limited to:
- The family home
- Vehicles, cars, boats, recreational vehicles,
- All Real Property
- Any interest in a business or professional practice
- Collections (anything of value, guns, art, cars, curios, coins and currency, gold or precious metals)
- Technology, home office equipment,
- Retirement accounts, IRAs, pensions, profit sharing, life insurance policies or other accounts
- Cash on hand, investments accounts, stocks or stock options (vested or unvested), offshore investments and assets
- All credit cards, student loans, lines of credit, debts, leases, co-signed loans, or personal debt
It is important to note out the outset that both parties have a “fiduciary duty” to their spouse until the date the divorce is finalized. A fiduciary duty is a substantial legal obligation to act in the other’s best interests. Any attempt to hide or undervalue assets, credit cards or money will be met with harsh financial consequences by the Court.
In order for assets and debts to be divided in a Carlsbad divorce the Court must have a complete, transparent, accurate and full disclosure from each party. This should include every asset and debt the party has in their name, even if they owned it or had the account prior to the date of the marriage.
Once each party has disclosed every single asset or debt the Court must decide if the asset or debt is a “community” asset or debt or the separate property or obligation of one of the spouses. How is this determination made?
Generally speaking, if an asset or obligation belonged to one of the parties before the date of the marriage, and no community assets or efforts have been invested during the marriage the asset or debt will be the separate property of one of the parties and not subject to community property division during the divorce.
Any asset or obligation obtained by either or both of the parties from the date of the marriage to the date of separation (including income) is generally considered to be community property. There are a few exclusions such as properly structured inheritances or gifts and personal injury settlements).
California family law requires community assets and obligations to be divided equally between the parties. The Court must decide or approve the nature of each asset or debt (community or separate) and how assets and debts are to be divided in a Carlsbad divorce. Mediation may also be a cost-effective and timely option for resolving issues of property disclosure and/or division.