COMMUNITY PROPERTY: California is a community property state, meaning all property obtained during a divorce, except inheritance and gifts, is equally the property of both parties. During a divorce all community property must be equally divided in terms of total net value, unless otherwise agreed upon or there is an enforceable premarital agreement. Any debts incurred by either person during the marriage is considered community debt and the responsibility for paying for these debts are divided equally as well.
In essence, this means that the value of the marriage assets and debts must be split equally. Each spouse will receive 50% of the value of the assets and 50% of the debts. This could mean that one spouse only gets the house and the other gets the remaining assets, so long as the value of the assets minus the debts are equal.
Property division usually comprises the majority of a Marital Settlement Agreement. If the parties do not agree, a judge will divide the assets and debts.
Once a property division is agreed upon or ordered by a judge, the agreement is very difficult to revise. There is only a short time period in order to do so and it is usually must be the result of fraud or mistake.
Separate property is property obtained before a marriage or after the date of separation. This remains the property of the acquiring spouse and is not subject to division. It also includes inheritance and gifts received by one spouse during a marriage.
Hiding assets during a divorce is against the law, yet it does happen. Some ways in which a spouse may try to hide their assets:
- Paying wages to a nonexistent employee
- Getting an employer to postpone raises, bonuses, or other compensation
- Setting up a custodial account in the child’s name
- Not reporting certain income
- Skimming money from their own business
- Undervaluing certain collectibles
- Not telling their spouse about certain accounts
- Hiding money in their child’s bank account
- Placing assets in a safety deposit box
If you find yourself wondering if your spouse has hidden any of your community property assets, you may want to ask a lawyer for help.
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