Seal Beach Property Division Lawyer
Property Division Is a Major Focus in Any Divorce
If you and your spouse have decided to end your marriage, you may anticipate the property division phase of your divorce with anxiety, not knowing what to expect. At the Seal Beach Law Office of Stacy L. Campuzano, we focus on family law matters and have assisted many divorcing couples in both Orange County and Los Angeles County. Our goal is to help you navigate every part of the divorce, including property division, as smoothly and efficiently as possible. Determining a fair division of assets and debts is important to the financial security you hope to enjoy as you enter the next chapter of your life.
Marital property is anything you and your spouse acquired during your marriage. Separate property is anything you owned prior to your marriage, anything that you inherited or anything gifted to you personally. In the property division process, a value will be assigned to each item. Your attorney can help you create an agreement that addresses the fair division of property to ensure that you and your spouse will emerge from the divorce with approximately the same value.
Just as you divide your assets fairly, you will do the same thing when dividing debts. For example, you may have two checking accounts, and one may have more money in it than the other. In an equitable arrangement, one of you might take the larger account while the one who takes the smaller account also gets something else in order to make a fair division. In fact, if one spouse is taking something of significant value, such as the marital home, that spouse might also take on the credit card debt as a way to help balance out the division. When you add together the value of all your assets, then subtract all the debt you both owe, the result should equal the net share to be divided between the two of you.
- Home furnishings
- China and crystal
- Coin, stamp and other collections
- Computers, printers and other home office equipment
- Motor vehicles
- Recreational vehicles
- Checking and savings accounts
- Retirement accounts
- 401(k) and IRA plans
- Stocks and bonds
- Mutual funds
- Certificates of deposit
- Life insurance policy cash value
Managing Joint and Separate Accounts
You should pull together a complete set of all the financial documents you possess. Provide one of these to your lawyer and keep a set for yourself. If you and your spouse have joint bank accounts or credit card accounts, you may want to close them and open new accounts in your own names before the divorce proceedings begin. However, if you have a joint account you wish to keep for the time being, your attorney can draw up an agreement that defines the purpose for the account. From this point forward, it would be best to require two signatures on the checks you write. Furthermore, you can put a freeze on any investments you have and forego using funds from those accounts until after the divorce is final.
Understanding Pension Plan Division
Certain aspects of property division are more complex than others. One such example is the pension plan, which is sometimes the most valuable asset of the lot. Special rules apply to the distribution of a pension plan, and it may have to be “joined” to represent a party in your divorce action before a judge can determine how to divide it. As with all valuable and unique assets, you can rely on the expertise of your lawyer to assist in sorting out the details concerning your pension plan.
Avoiding Problems With Debt
When you and your spouse come to an agreement about the division of debt, keep in mind that those to whom you owe money are not obligated to honor that agreement. It pays to remain conscientious about bill paying once your divorce is final. For example, if your former spouse is responsible for credit card debt following the divorce and misses a payment on what used to be a joint account, the credit card company has every right to come after you. To avoid this kind of problem, your spouse could apply for a card in his or her name alone and transfer the balance from the old joint account.
Your divorce is unique and requires a tailored solution to help you achieve the goals you have in mind. We have served many Orange County and Los Angeles County couples facing divorce and understand the many emotions involved in this kind of family law situation. If you are facing a contested divorce, we will protect your rights and provide experienced representation on your behalf in a court proceeding. On the other hand, if you and your spouse wish to control the pace, the expense and the final outcome of your divorce through negotiations outside of court, your legal team will help you reach an agreement that is satisfactory to you both. We are here to consult with you and listen carefully to your concerns. Please call the Seal Beach Law Office of Stacy L. Campuzano today at 562-799-5503 or send an email here.