Asset Division: Westlake Village Divorce Attorney
Not sure what assets you are entitled to in a divorce?
We at Richard Ross Associates know that getting a divorce is a legally complex and emotionally taxing process. Property division is often one of the key points of contention in a divorce, and we can provide the effective legal representation you need to maximize the likelihood of reaching a fair agreement or verdict.
Call us at (805) 777-1011 to discuss your unique situation with our Westlake Village divorce lawyers.
The matter starts to become complicated with valuable assets such as homes or businesses, when they may have belonged to one spouse prior to the marriage, but both have invested in them significantly since the marriage. Of course, there is also the fact that it may not be practical to literally divide everything in half. In this case, the role of the court would be to ensure that the assets are divided in a way that is fair, so that each party is left with assets roughly equivalent to one another in value.
Community, Separate & Quasi Community Property
In California, all property acquired during a marriage, from the date of marriage to the date of separation, is presumed to be community property, meaning both spouses equally own it. During a divorce, community property is divided evenly among the spouses. Separate property, on the other hand, is property acquired by either spouse before they were married, property acquired after their date of separation, or property that was acquired by the spouse by gift or inheritance. Lastly, quasi-community property is property acquired while living in another state which would be considered community if acquired in California. Property characterized as quasi-community will be evenly distributed with the other shared assets.
The first step in dividing assets is characterize them as either community property or separate property, which can be complicated in cases involving:
- Jewelry, particularly wedding rings
- Investments, particularly when they were gifts
- Inheritances to one or both spouses
- Assets held in trusts
- Stock options, depending on how and when they were acquired and by which spouse. Because asset division can be incredibly complex and one of the most contentious parts of any divorce, it is vital that you enlist the help of an experienced attorney. Richard Ross Associates will assist you in the process while protecting your best interests.
Contact a Thousand Oaks Divorce Lawyer Today
Going through a divorce is not an easy or pleasant legal matter, but hiring a Certified Family Law Specialist can help to ensure that the process goes as smoothly as possible. You don't want to end up with an unfair settlement that doesn't accurately reflect what you actually deserve. With over 40 years of experience, we are prepared to offer compassionate support and to litigate aggressively when necessary. At Richard Ross Associates, we know asset division, and we are very familiar with the local legal systems of Ventura, Santa Barbara and Los Angeles counties.
Don't wait - contact our team today for the help that you will need.
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This is very important: If you have separated from your spouse before one of you has filed for dissolution of marriage or legal separation, avoid agreeing to and placing into effect a temporary parenting plan arrangement regarding the children unless you will be able to live with this arrangement after the divorce papers have been filed. Once you begin a parenting plan that seems to be working, it becomes the "status quo." It is very difficult to convince a mediator or judge to change the status quo, especially if it is working or appears to be working and is not detrimental to the minor children.
If you have not received a judgment dissolving your marriage before the end of the year, you may file an individual tax return under the status of "married, filing separately" or a joint tax return with your spouse. You should consult your accountant as to the advantages of these options. You may obtain special information booklets regarding tax information for divorce or separated individuals from your local IRS office or read the IRS booklet online.
To file an action for divorce, also known as dissolution of marriage, a person must have resided in the state of California for six months and in the county where the action is filed for three months prior to filing the petition in court. This is true of either the petitioner or the respondent - either person can meet the test and allow a filing. If your spouse meets the residency requirement, you can file even if you do not meet it yourself.
The court can and usually will order you to move out of your residence if your spouse convinces the court that you have been violent toward your spouse or threatened your spouse. You could be given ex-parte notice to be in court the next day because your spouse is seeking an order to make you move out and stay out. You can be ordered to leave immediately and not return even if your spouse is not on the property title or lease agreement! Once you are ordered to leave, it is not likely that you will be allowed to return.
Before you get a divorce, photocopy all relevant financial documents that you can obtain and store them off-site with a trusted friend or relative. Do not store them in the trunk of your car where they can easily be found and removed by your spouse. There may be both personal and strategic reasons not to tip off your spouse that documents are being reviewed for a possible dissolution proceeding. Make copies of documents that you find in the residence and return the original documents to their original location as soon as possible so that your spouse won't notice that they are missing. It is often advisable to make the photocopies when you are sure your spouse is away for an extended time, such as during a workday. It is advisable to gather as many relevant financial documents as possible while they are still available and before they have been removed or destroyed by your spouse. This will significantly reduce the cost of divorce litigation if the documents do not have to be recovered later. It will also permit us to get a true picture of all community assets and debts as soon as possible.