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Pasadena and Woodland Hills Law Firm Fighting for Your Fair Share in the Separation of Assets Process

Diligently working to ensure a fair result in your divorce

In every divorce matter, we are devoted to protecting your interests, both now and in the future. We are experienced in investigating, discovering and valuing complex assets. At the Law Offices of Steven A. Blunt, we understand the serious financial consequences of ending a marriage.

We are diligent in obtaining full financial disclosure from your spouse, finding the assets and income your spouse fails to disclose and fighting for an equitable division of marital property and debt. With more than 35 years of experience, we have the knowledge, skills and resources to investigate, identify and accurately evaluate marital assets to ensure that you obtain your fair share in the divorce.

Types of California property

California is only one of nine community property states. This means that each spouse is considered to own 50% of the property acquired during the marriage. California divides property into the following categories:

  • Community property (aka marital property) — Assets acquired during the marriage as a result of the work, efforts and labor of the spouses are considered community (marital) property and are subject to equal division in your divorce.
  • Separate property — Separate property, also called nonmarital or premarital property, includes assets you acquired before the marriage, after separation or during the marriage by way of gift or inheritance. Separate property is not subject to division in a divorce.

There are several laws that apply to the division of assets in California. Determining whether an asset is community or separate property can be confusing. An asset that was your separate property can be “comingled” with community property and become a marital asset.

Who gets the house in a divorce?

In many divorce cases, the family home is the most valuable asset Parties tend to become attached to their home, resulting in disagreements regarding its disposition. This often leads to litigation in which it must be determined if the residence is community or separate property, and, if it is community property, to whom it should be awarded.

Most of the time, the residence was acquired during the marriage and the parties hold title in joint form, but this does not necessarily mean it is 100% community property. It is quite common for a party to use his or her separate funds acquired before the marriage, or funds received as a gift from his or her parents, as a down payment for the purchase of the house. Sometimes, one party owned the house before the marriage, but during the marriage, community funds were used to pay off a mortgage or improve the property.

Special rules apply to such situations, such as Family Code section 2640, which calls for reimbursement to a party who used his or her separate funds for a down payment; or the Moore/Marsden doctrine, which provides a special formula for determining the accrual of a community interest in a residence that was owned by one of the parties before the marriage.

Factors such as the effect of awarding the residence to one party subject to a mortgage that stands in both parties’ names (and thus affects both parties’ credit) often create difficulties. We are familiar with all the rules, know all the arguments and can help you with solutions to these issues. Where appropriate, we will fight to keep your house for you or have it ordered sold so you don’t finish with continuing liability on the mortgage.

What happens to retirement accounts and employment benefits?

The general rule in California is that any amount paid into a retirement plan by either party or such party’s employer during the marriage is considered community property and may be equitably divided by the court. Retirement and pension plans may include:

  • Defined benefit plans
  • Defined contribution plans
  • 401(k) plans
  • City, county, state and federal government retirement plans
  • Pension plans
  • Private employer benefits
  • Keough plans
  • Individual retirement accounts (IRAs)
  • Some military retirement benefits

If you have a pension or retirement account, it is imperative that you obtain the help of an experienced lawyer. Special rules apply to pensions and the manner of their division in divorce cases. Even in cases in which a pension or retirement plan is awarded  to only one party, care must be exercised in determining its value relative to the other community assets.

Schedule your appointment with skilled family law attorneys today

If you are looking for a genuine lawyer who truly cares about you, contact the Law Offices of Steven A. Blunt. Our offices are conveniently located in Pasadena and Woodland Hills. Both offices have ample parking and are handicapped-accessible. Contact us at 818-337-3595 or online.