Complex Property Division Lawyer
As experienced property division attorneys in San Francisco, we’ve helped countless clients take control of their futures by securing the assets they deserve. Struggling to achieve fair property division with your soon-to-be ex-spouse? Contact us to schedule a consultation.
Divorce is never easy, regardless of a couple’s financial situation. However, certain factors, such as complex property division, can greatly complicate divorce proceedings, and as a result, delay a resolution.
In cases of complex property division, couples can wait months and even years to finalize their divorces. This delay can have deleterious effects on their personal lives, including their finances, social connections, and even mental health. Working with a reputable divorce attorney who has experience in complex property division is one of the best ways to speed the process along.
If you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse have a complex set of properties, you’re probably concerned about your divorce timeline and whether or not you’ll be able to secure the assets you deserve. This article will explain everything you need to know about complex property division, including how houses and debts are divided in these cases.
Are you preparing for divorce? The best way to ensure you receive an equitable distribution of your assets is by working with a dedicated property division attorney. Call our law office at (415) 805-9069 to speak with a compassionate legal expert today.
Understanding Complex Property Division in California
In the world of family law, complex property division is the process of dividing extensive, high-value, or complicated assets and liabilities between divorcing spouses. This process can be challenging and often requires expert legal and financial assistance.
California operates under the legal framework of community property law to divide property when a marriage or domestic partnership ends. The core tenet of this principle is that both spouses or partners equally own the income and assets acquired during the marriage.
With that in mind, here are some of the key aspects of complex property division in CA:
- Identifying all assets and liabilities. The first step to dividing complex property is identifying all assets and liabilities, including real property, businesses, stocks, retirement accounts, debts, and personal property. Complex property may also include high-value and unusual assets such as professional practices, intellectual property, high-value real estate, investment portfolios, art collections, and more.
- Classifying property. There are two types of property in these cases: marital and separate. Whereas marital property is typically acquired during the marriage and may be subject to division, separate property is acquired before the marriage or as an inheritance or a gift. In many complex property division cases, community and separate property have been mixed or commingled, adding additional challenges to their division.
- Asset valuation. Complex property division requires a thorough valuation of all assets, including businesses, stock options, pensions, and real estate. Depending on the nature of the assets, this process may require expert assistance from appraisers, accountants, or financial analysts.
- Tax planning. Dividing assets can have significant tax consequences for both parties involved. It’s critical to plan for potential capital gains, transfer taxes, and other tax ramifications during the division process.
- Legal agreements. Prenuptial or postnuptial agreements both significantly impact the division of property, and interpreting them in the context of California typically requires working closely with an experienced family law attorney.
- Negotiation and settlement. Negotiations and settlements are common in complex property division cases and can save both parties time and money. However, if spouses cannot agree, litigation may be necessary.
- Legal complexities. Successful complex property division requires expertise in intricate legal principles, especially in cases where property includes business ownership, investments, and assets in multiple jurisdictions.
As you can see, complex property division in the context of California family law is a multifaceted process that requires countless considerations and careful financial navigation. Luckily, an experienced complex property division lawyer can help you navigate this difficult endeavor.
Complex Property Division Settlement Vs. Litigation
Complex property division cases in California can end in one of two ways: a settlement or litigation. These two approaches are fundamentally different in how they eventually resolve the division of assets, particularly when dealing with high-value and unusual assets.
Complex Property Division Settlement
When both parties negotiate an agreement on how to divide their party, a settlement is reached. This process is often much less adversarial than litigation and may be achieved through negotiation, mediation, or collaborative law—a relatively new type of alternative dispute resolution where parties work together (typically with help from their attorneys) to reach a mutually acceptable agreement.
There are several notable benefits to reaching a settlement agreement instead of pursuing litigation. In addition to being a less contentious process, opting for a settlement offers both parties more flexibility and control over the outcomes; they can tailor the division of assets to suit their unique needs and preferences.
Additionally, reaching a settlement is often much more cost- and time-effective than going to court. By avoiding court, divorcing parties also enjoy more privacy, as settlements are generally kept private from the public. This privacy is particularly advantageous when dealing with high-value assets.
Complex Property Division Litigation
Although reaching a settlement is the preferable option for many people, litigation is sometimes the only way to ensure fair asset division. Litigation involves taking the dispute to court where a judge will make the final decision about how assets will be divided between parties.
In addition to being more adversarial, litigation is also a more formal approach than reaching a settlement. It requires parties to go through several legal procedures, including a discovery process where each party can obtain detailed information from the other about assets. Litigation may also involve the use of expert witnesses, including financial analysts, appraisers, and other specialists who can explain the value and nature of complex assets.
When deciding whether or not to pursue litigation, it’s important to understand that court proceedings are generally a matter of public record. Additionally, litigation can prove to be an expensive and time-consuming endeavor, and overturning a judge’s decision is very difficult.
Complex Property Division Lawyer FAQs
Divorce cases involving complex property division can be challenging, especially when spouses have fundamentally different ideas about what they are owed. The best way to gain clarity is by talking with an experienced complex property division lawyer in San Francisco. In the meantime, check out the answers to some of our most frequently asked questions.
• How is a house divided in divorce?
Like debt and real property, houses are divided according to California’s community property law. If the house was purchased during the marriage with marital funds, it is considered marital property and ownership belongs equally to both parties; if it was acquired before the marriage or through inheritance, it may be considered separate property.
If a house is deemed to be marital property, spouses may choose to sell the house and divide the proceeds, or one spouse may buy out the other. In some cases, parties decide on co-ownership or a deferred sale—the resolution method depends on the unique details of their situation.
• What makes property division so complicated in a high-net-worth divorce?
Complex assets lead to complex divorces. A high-net-worth couple may have international assets, hidden assets, or assets that require a painstaking valuation in order to appraise. These considerations, along with tax implications, prenuptial agreements, alimony, child support, and long-term financial planning can exacerbate an already challenging process.
• How can separate and marital property be commingled?
Separate and marital property become commingled when they are mixed together in a way that makes distinguishing them difficult. This can happen in a variety of ways, including through the use of joint bank accounts, financing business ventures with marital funds, refinancing property, paying off debt, etc.
Fenchel Family Law: Trusted Complex Property Division Lawyers
Divorce is an emotional, difficult process—especially when it involves complex property division. If you are embarking on a high-net-worth divorce or are dealing with multiple financial considerations, it’s imperative to partner with a complex property division lawyer as soon as possible. Contact Fenchel Family Law to speak with a compassionate attorney today.