Category Archives: California Divorce

divorce papers

What to Do if Your Spouse Won’t Sign the Divorce Papers

Divorce is never easy, especially if your spouse is uncooperative. One of the most significant issues that can cause a delay in the divorce process is when one party refuses to sign the papers. This can be frustrating and stressful, but there are steps you can take if you find yourself in this situation. In this blog post, we will discuss what to do if your spouse won’t sign the divorce papers in California.


Understand Your State’s Divorce Laws


The first thing you need to do is research the divorce laws in California. In most cases, they require both parties’ signatures for the divorce to be valid. However, there are some exceptions to this rule. For example, if they can’t locate your spouse, or if the spouse does not respond, you may proceed with the divorce without their signature. It’s essential to understand the requirements in your state before proceeding with the next steps.


Consult with an Experienced Lawyer


It’s always a good idea to consult with an experienced divorce lawyer before taking any legal action. They can provide you with guidance and help you understand your options. They may also have strategies to help convince your spouse to sign the papers. If you and your spouse can’t agree, your lawyer can help you prepare for court proceedings and get the divorce finalized.


Communicate Clearly


Communicating clearly is the first step to dealing with a spouse who won’t sign the divorce papers. Openly discuss why you want a divorce and explain why you feel it is warranted, even if they disagree. It’s essential to be as transparent as possible to help them understand why divorce is necessary. If there are specific issues to address, try to compromise and find common ground.


Offer Options


It’s important to remain calm and patient with your spouse as you work through the divorce process. Keep in mind that everyone is different, and sometimes people need time to come around to the idea of divorce. Offer your spouse different options for proceeding with the divorce, such as using an experienced family lawyer for mediation. This can help to ease some of the tension and make the process less antagonistic.


Consider Alternative Dispute Resolution Methods


If communication fails and negotiations break down, consider mediation or arbitration as an option for resolving issues outside of court. This can be a cost-effective method for resolving disputes between spouses when traditional negotiations or counseling have not worked. Mediation is voluntary, confidential, and private and can assist with facilitating agreements between couples to settle any divorce-related issues without court intervention. 


File with the Court


Take the necessary steps to file with the court, even if your spouse won’t sign, as long as you meet all other legal requirements according to your state’s law. In California, your spouse has 30 days to file a response to your petition. If they do not respond within 30 days, you can file a Request to Enter Default, giving you the right to finalize the divorce without your spouse’s signature.


If you are going through a divorce in California and your spouse won’t sign the divorce papers, it’s vital to seek out an experienced family lawyer who can help you through the process. At the Law Offices of Judy L. Burger, our team of experienced family law attorneys can help you with alternative dispute resolution methods and other legal options. Contact us today to schedule a private appointment. 


out of state

Can You Move Out of State With Your Kids After a Divorce in California?

Divorce is a difficult process, and things can become even more complicated when children are involved. One of the biggest challenges can be deciding where the children will live and how custody and visitation will be structured. For some divorced parents, the idea of moving out of state with their kids may be appealing. They may want to be closer to family, start a new job, or begin a new chapter in their life. However, before taking any steps, it is important to understand the legal considerations and potential roadblocks that could arise. This blog post will explore what you need to know about moving out of state with your children after a divorce in California.


What to Consider Before Moving Out-of-State with Your Kids After Divorce


First and foremost, it is essential to consider the best interests of your children. Will moving out of state mean they will be farther away from the other parent? Will it disrupt their school or extracurricular activities? Additionally, if you have a custody and visitation agreement in place, you will need to review it to see if there are any restrictions on moving. It would help if you also considered the cost of living in the new state, job opportunities, and the availability of support systems. It is a big decision that requires careful thought and consideration.


Potential Roadblocks that Could Prevent You from Moving Out of State with Your Children


Even if you believe that moving out of state is in your children’s best interests, several potential roadblocks could arise. For example, the other parent may object to the move and file a motion with the court to prevent it. Additionally, there may be a provision in your custody and visitation agreement that prohibits you from moving out of state without the other parent’s consent. Finally, if you are in the process of getting a divorce, the court may require you to remain in California until the divorce is finalized.


What Happens if the Other Parent Objects to You Moving Out of State?


If the other parent objects to your proposed move, you will need to go through a legal process to get permission from the court. This may involve attending a hearing and presenting evidence as to why the move is in the children’s best interests. The court will consider factors such as the reasons for moving, the impact on the children, and the availability of visitation opportunities for the other parent. You will need to work with an experienced California family lawyer who can guide you through this process.


The Process of Getting Permission From the Court to Move Out-of-State with Your Kids


If you are seeking to move out of state with your children, you must file a request for a move-away order with the court. This request should include information about the proposed move, the reasons for it, and how it will benefit the children. You may also need to include a parenting plan that outlines how the other parent can maintain a relationship with the children. Once filed, the other parent will have an opportunity to object to the request, and the court can schedule a hearing. 


What You Need to Do Once You Have Gained Permission to Move Out-of-State


If the court grants your request and gives you permission to move out of state, you will need to update your custody and visitation agreement accordingly. This may involve negotiating a new agreement with the other parent and submitting it to the court for approval. Additionally, it would help if you considered practical matters such as finding a new home, registering the children for school, and establishing new support systems.


If you are considering moving out of state with your children after a divorce, it is essential to work with a skilled and experienced California family lawyer who can guide you through the legal process. At the Law Offices of Judy L. Burger, we are committed to helping families find solutions that work for everyone involved. Contact us today to schedule a consultation and learn more about how we can help.

community or separate property

How to Determine Whether an Asset is Separate or Community Property

Divorce is not always straightforward, especially when property division becomes involved. In California, property division is based on separate and community property, but determining which assets fall into each category can become complicated. This blog post will discuss the difference between separate and community property, what makes an asset separate or community, and provide examples of each. We also discuss when to seek professional help from a California property division lawyer to ensure fair asset allocation in a divorce settlement.


Defining Separate and Community Property


Separate property is any assets acquired prior to marriage or after legal separation. These assets are typically owned and controlled solely by one spouse and are not subject to division during divorce proceedings. Community property refers to assets acquired during the marriage, including income, property, and debt, which are considered owned equally by both spouses.


What is the Difference between Separate and Community Property in a Marriage?


The critical difference between separate and community property is the degree to which each spouse has legal ownership and control. Separate property remains under one spouse’s sole ownership and control, whereas both spouses have an equal right to control community property. In the event of a divorce, separate property assets belong exclusively to the spouse who owns them, while community property assets are divided equally between the divorcing spouses.


When Does an Asset Become Separate or Community Property in California?


The general rule is that property acquired during a marriage is community property, while property acquired before marriage or after legal separation is separate property. However, certain factors can complicate this standard. For example, property acquired with separate property funds during the marriage can become community property. Similarly, a business started before marriage can become community property if it grows and increases its value during the marriage.


Examples of Separate Property in a Marriage


Examples of separate property include assets owned before marriage, inheritances or gifts received during the marriage from an individual to one spouse, personal injury settlements awarded to one spouse, and property purchased with separate funds during the marriage.


Examples of Community Property in a Marriage


Examples of community property include homes, vehicles, debt, bank accounts, investments, businesses, and retirement benefits datable during marriage.


Gifting Between Spouses – Is it Separate or Community Property?


Gifts between spouses are considered separate property and are generally not subject to division during divorce proceedings. However, gifts are often complicated by the property’s source and each spouse’s intent.


When to Seek Professional Help for Determining Separate vs Community Property


Determining which assets are separate or community property can become challenging, especially if the couple owned a business, real estate, stocks and bonds, or other investment assets. Moreover, when a divorce becomes increasingly contentious, dividing property and assets fairly can be challenging. If you suspect that your spouse may be hiding or concealing assets or are concerned about property division, seeking a knowledgeable California property division lawyer for assistance is highly advisable.


At the Law Offices of Judy L. Burger, we specialize in family law, including property division. Our California property division lawyers have a proven track record of representing clients dealing with complex assets and valuations. We understand the stress and emotional turbulence often associated with divorce proceedings, and we are dedicated to helping our clients navigate the property division process. You can trust our knowledge and expertise to ensure a fair property division settlement. Contact us today to schedule a private appointment. 

property division

How Does Property Division Work When Getting a Divorce in California?

Divorce can be an emotional and challenging experience. It can be even more complicated when dividing assets and property. Property division can vary from state to state, and California is no exception. This blog post will explore the basics of property division in California divorce cases, including what constitutes marital and separate property, community property, and how complex property division can be in California law cases. 


The Basics of Property Division in California Divorce Cases


In California, property division in divorce follows the principle of community property, which is where all assets and debts accrued during the marriage are equally owned by both spouses. This means it’s a 50-50 split. However, there are exceptions to this rule. Gifts or inheritances given specifically to one spouse or property owned before the marriage or after separation are not included in the split and are considered separate property. 


Defining Marital and Separate Property


When distinguishing between marital and separate property, it’s important to know some key differences. Marital, or community, property is typically everything that you and your spouse acquired or earned during the marriage. This can range from everything from the house you bought together, the income you both earned, to the debts accumulated during this period. On the other hand, separate property includes any assets or debts that one spouse acquired before the marriage, during the marriage as a gift or inheritance specifically to them, or after separation. Furthermore, any property that the spouse declares to be separate property is also considered as such. So, the key differences are the timing and the specific circumstances under which the property was acquired.


What is Community Property, and How Does it Get Split in a Divorce Case?


As mentioned earlier, community property comprises all assets and debts acquired during the marriage. This includes income, assets purchased by either spouse during the marriage, stock options, retirement accounts, and real estate purchased during the marriage. In most cases, community property is divided equally between the spouses, but the court will also consider factors such as each spouse’s earning capacity, their contribution to property acquisition, and their financial needs. 


How Complex Can Divorce Property Division Be in California Law Cases


The complexity of property division in California can depend on the nature of the assets involved. Valuing and dividing real estate, business interests, investments, and retirement accounts can be complex and require the assistance of financial experts. In some cases, the court may order the sale of assets to divide the value of community property equally. 


Strategies to Help Make the Process Easier


Divorce and property division can be stressful and emotionally draining. Here are some strategies to help make the process easier: 


  • Hire an experienced attorney who specializes in divorce cases and is knowledgeable about California’s property division laws.
  • Gather and organize all financial documents and records, including tax returns, bank statements, and investment account summaries.
  • Consider alternative dispute resolution methods like mediation or collaborative divorce, which can help avoid going to court and reduce costs.
  • Be willing to negotiate and compromise with your spouse. Divorce is never easy, but it helps to be open-minded and willing to work towards a mutually beneficial agreement.


Divorce and property division can be complex and emotionally draining. At the Law Offices of Judy L. Burger, we have experienced divorce attorneys specializing in California’s property division. Our team is knowledgeable about California family law and will help ensure a fair distribution of assets. We also offer various dispute resolution methods, making the process as stress-free as possible for our clients. Contact us today to schedule a private appointment. 


Spousal Support When Both Spouses Work

It’s becoming increasingly common for both spouses in a marriage to earn an income. However, when a couple decides to divorce, spousal support can still be awarded, even in dual-income households. Spousal support is a payment made by either spouse to the other to support their living standard after divorce. But how does spousal support work when both spouses work, and what factors affect the amount of support awarded? This blog post will explore the ins and outs of spousal support in California, specifically in dual-income households.


What is Spousal Support, and Who is Eligible for it in a Dual-Income Household?


Spousal support is a financial payment one spouse makes to the other after separation or divorce. The purpose of this payment is to help support the lower-earning spouse and allow them to maintain the lifestyle they had during the marriage. In California, the court will consider several factors when determining if spousal support is appropriate, including:


  • Each spouse’s income
  • The duration of the marriage
  • The age of both parties
  • The standard of living during the marriage
  • Each spouse’s physical and emotional health
  • The financial needs of each party
  • The division of property in the divorce settlement


Considering the Tax Implications of Spousal Support Payments


For the party paying spousal support in a dual-income household, it’s essential to understand the tax implications of these payments. In California, spousal support payments are tax-deductible for the paying spouse and considered taxable income for the receiving spouse. However, this rule only applies if the payments are court-ordered. If spouses agree to an amount outside of court, those payments are not tax-deductible for the payor.


Factors Courts Consider When Deciding Spousal Support Amounts


The amount of spousal support awarded in a dual-income household will vary depending on the individual circumstances of the case. The court will consider the needs of the spouse receiving support and the ability of the other spouse to pay. In California, spousal support is generally calculated by taking 50% of the paying spouse’s net income, then subtracting 40% of the receiving spouse’s net income. However, this is only a guideline and doesn’t consider other factors, such as child support payments and the impact of taxes.


Modifying Spousal Support When One Partner Gets a Raise or Promotion


If the court already awarded spousal support payments in the divorce settlement, they could be modified if there is a significant change in the circumstances of the spouses. For example, if one spouse gets a raise or promotion, the court can re-evaluate the amount of spousal support. The party requesting the modification must show that the change in circumstances is significant and ongoing.


Pros and Cons of Receiving or Paying Spousal Support


There are pros and cons to consider when receiving or paying spousal support in a dual-income household. For the receiving spouse, spousal support can help maintain their standard of living and provide financial security. However, it can be a financial burden for the paying spouse, especially if they already support themselves and any children from the marriage. It’s important to discuss the pros and cons of spousal support with an experienced family law attorney.


Commonly Misunderstood Aspects of Spousal Support Laws

Spousal support laws can be complicated, and there are several misconceptions about the topic. For example, spousal support is not guaranteed in every divorce case, and there is no set formula for calculating the amount. Additionally, spousal support payments can be tax-deductible for the paying spouse, but only if they are court-ordered.


If you are considering divorce and spousal support is a concern, contact our experienced family law attorneys today. We at the Law Offices of Judy L. Burger have the knowledge and expertise to help you navigate California’s complex spousal support laws, and we will work tirelessly to ensure your rights are protected. 

California Divorce

5 Things You Need to Know About California Divorce

Ending a marriage can be extremely stressful, especially when unsure of what to expect during your divorce. One way to help minimize stress is by learning about California divorce before your case begins. Here are 5 things you need to know about California Divorce:

1) Divorce is an Emotional Process with Legal Consequences

Divorce can be one of the most emotionally difficult experiences a person may have during their lifetime. For many spouses, engaging in the process will involve making an abrupt and painful transition from being partners to becoming legal adversaries.

Divorce impacts virtually every area of a person’s life, and emotions can run high. At the same time, the choices you make during your California divorce can have significant long-term legal implications. It’s important to recognize that the pain and stress of the situation can influence your decision-making. Under these circumstances, having the advice and advocacy of an experienced California divorce attorney is crucial. Your divorce lawyer can help you evaluate your case from a neutral perspective and provide the guidance you need to make informed decisions.

2) California is a No-Fault Divorce State

When a marriage ends, it’s not uncommon for one or both partners to believe that the other is to blame. You may be getting divorced because your ex had an affair, was violent, or was emotionally unavailable. Although these are valid reasons to leave a marriage, they are not legal grounds for a California divorce. The reason is that California is a no-fault divorce state.

That means that a California couple can get divorced without having to prove that one or both of them are responsible. The law also does not provide a basis to allege that anyone was to blame.

Essentially, all that is required is for one party to plead that the couple has irreconcilable differences. However, that does not mean a spouse’s adultery or domestic violence is irrelevant during divorce. To learn more about how your ex’s conduct may impact your divorce, you should consult with an experienced California divorce attorney.

3) No One “Wins” a Divorce Case

Sometimes, spouses can get caught up in trying to “win” their divorce case. This can look different for different people. In some cases, exes may fight one another on seemingly every decision during their divorce just for the sake of getting their way. In others, one or both may have unreasonable expectations of getting all or most of the couple’s shared assets.

These types of disputes are often fueled by resentment and pain and have more to do with punishing the other person than getting through the divorce. Divorce cannot make things even or bring a sense of justice to your situation. Instead, your California divorce will involve finding a way to divide your assets equitably, deciding custody based on what is in the children’s best interest, and, if applicable, determining appropriate support. No one “wins” a divorce case, but with the right counsel and approach, navigating the process and obtaining equitable results is possible.

4) California is a Community Property State

Another important thing to know about California divorce is that California is a community property state. This means that, outside of certain limited exceptions, what spouses earn and acquire during their marriage belongs to each person equally. For example, if you bought a house in your name only

during your marriage and used community funds to make the purchase, your spouse will probably have equal ownership rights to the dwelling. Likewise, each of you will have a community interest in the other’s retirement accounts for contributions made during the marriage.

However, there can be circumstances when spouses can agree not to divide community assets. In addition, resources acquired before marriage, inherited, and gifted property are not generally community property. You and your California divorce attorney can evaluate your assets and determine how community property law will apply to you and your circumstances.

5) California Family Courts Favor Shared Custody

Child custody can be one of the most contentious issues during a California divorce. The divorce court is charged with making decisions that are in the best interest of minor children during this type of case. Outside of evidence that a parent is unsafe or not involved in a child’s life, the court will generally favor joint (shared) custody.

There are two types of child custody in California—legal and physical. Legal custody refers to a parent’s right to make decisions regarding their child’s upbringing. Physical custody is about a parent having the right to have their child with them. When parents are safe and appropriate, California courts presume that joint legal and physical custody is in the child’s best interest.

California divorce can be complex, and it’s vital that you get the information you need regarding every stage of the process. If you are involved in or considering divorce, you should consult with an experienced California divorce attorney. Your California divorce lawyer can explain how your case will work, help you analyze the evidence, and navigate your case.

Contact an Experienced California Divorce Attorney

The attorneys at the Law Offices of Judy L. Burger are experienced California divorce attorneys who can help you before, during, and after your divorce. We assist clients along California’s Northern to Southern Coast, including San Francisco, Beverly Hills, Marin, San Jose, Gold River, San Diego, Santa Barbara, Ventura/Oxnard, and surrounding communities. Call us at 415-293-8314 to schedule a private appointment or visit our website.
Understanding Transmutation During Your California Divorce

Understanding Transmutation During Your California Divorce

When a California couple divorces, one of their primary tasks will be determining how to divide their property. In some cases, a couple’s assets may be subject to a transmutation agreement. If your California divorce concerns transmutation, knowing how this type of contract may affect your case is important. Here is more on understanding transmutation during your California divorce.

California Community and Separate Property

Community Property

In California, the income and assets a couple acquires during marriage are presumed to belong to each spouse equally. These shared assets are known as community property. During a divorce, each person will have an equal ownership interest in these jointly-owned resources.

Separate Property

Outside of certain limited exceptions, what a person owns before marriage belongs solely to them. These premarital assets are known as separate property. During a divorce, separate property generally remains the possession and responsibility of the owning spouse.

Although property may be deemed community or separate, there can be circumstances when spouses may decide to enter into an agreement that changes how these assets will be treated. One way to accomplish this is through a transmutation agreement.

What is a Transmutation Agreement?

Transmutation refers to the conversion of property ownership. A California transmutation agreement is a legal contract that can be used to convert community property into separate property and vice versa. This type of agreement can also be used to transfer assets between spouses.

When are Transmutation Agreements Used?

Spouses use transmutation agreements to establish who has certain ownership interests. Unlike a prenuptial agreement, which couples enter into before marriage, this document is developed and executed after marriage and therefore is considered to be a postnuptial agreement.

What do Transmutation Agreements Do?

When a married couple enters into a transmutation agreement, they change the legal ownership of the property to either community (owned 50/50) or separate (belonging to one spouse). Without a California transmutation agreement, assets and income acquired by the couple during the marriage would be presumed to be community property. Likewise, outside of certain limited circumstances, property owned by one spouse before marriage would continue to be their separate property.

Why Would a Couple Use a California Transmutation Agreement?

Transmutation agreements provide a way to establish and clarify ownership. A couple may elect to use a California transmutation agreement to minimize the possibility of conflict over assets during divorce. There may also be certain tax benefits or other reasons for this decision. In some cases, a transmutation agreement may also be used for estate planning purposes. For example, one spouse may want to designate their inheritance as a community asset, which would normally be separate property.

Transmutation Agreement are Legal Contracts

It’s important to know that a transmutation agreement is a legal contract with significant implications. As with any contract, the document must be entered into knowingly by both parties in order to be binding. If there is evidence that a spouse was forced or tricked into signing the agreement, it may be considered void. In addition, these contracts may impact an individual’s tax liability.

Transmutation agreements can be complex and have a significant impact on those who are subject to the agreement. Someone who wants to use this type of postnuptial document should consult and work with an experienced California family law attorney. Your lawyer can help you evaluate your assets and determine the best ways to meet your goals.

Contact a California Divorce Attorney

Do you have questions regarding a transmutation agreement or other divorce issues? The attorneys at the Law Offices of Judy L. Burger are experienced family law attorneys who can help. Call us at 415-293-8314 to schedule a private appointment or visit our website. We assist clients along California’s Northern to Southern Coast, including San Francisco, Beverly Hills, Marin, San Jose, Gold River, San Diego, Santa Barbara, Ventura/Oxnard, and surrounding communities.


Can I Get my California Marriage Annulled?

California Annulment: Can I Get my California Marriage Annulled?

California Annulment:  In California, a couple can end their marriage by divorce and, in some cases, through annulment. Although it may seem as if the requirements should be the same, there are some important distinctions under the law. So, if you are considering legally ending your marriage, you may be wondering: Can I get my California marriage annulled? 

What is an Annulment?

A divorce is a legal end to a marriage. An annulment is the voiding of a marriage. The effect of an annulment is to treat a marriage as if it had never existed. However, annulment is limited to specific circumstances.

Grounds for a California Annulment

In California, a person seeking to annul their marriage must meet certain requirements. There are numerous grounds that can be named in a petition for annulment, including:

Age: The party who commences the proceeding or on whose behalf it is commenced was under 18 when wed, and it wasn’t legal to marry.

Bigamy—When a spouse is already married to someone and marries again, the second marriage is considered invalid.

Tricked—If a spouse was tricked into marrying, they may have grounds to annul the marriage.

Incapacity—Either party was of unsound mind at the time of marriage unless the party of unsound mind, after coming to reason, freely cohabited with the other as their spouse.

Fraud—The consent of either party was obtained by fraud unless the party whose consent was obtained by fraud afterward, with full knowledge of the facts constituting the fraud, freely cohabited with the other as their spouse.

Duress—The consent of either party was obtained by force unless the party whose consent was obtained by force afterward freely cohabited with the other as their spouse.

Physical Incapacity—At the time of marriage, either party was physically incapable of entering into the marriage state, and that incapacity continues and appears to be incurable.

Relationship—Marriage between people who are related within a certain degree is void as a matter of law and, therefore, can be annulled.

How Long Do I Have to Get an Annulment?

Generally, a person who can file for an annulment has four years to do so. However, the timeframe for seeking this remedy depends on the reason for the annulment. If you believe you have grounds to seek an annulment, you should contact an experienced California family law attorney to review your case and determine the applicable statute of limitations.

The Annulment Process

Someone seeking a California annulment will follow a similar process to seeking a divorce. First, the party will file a petition and complete the designated form. Once they have provided the requisite information, the party will serve their spouse. If the couple has minor children, the petitioning party will file a Declaration Under Uniform Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act.

Once the proper documents are filed, the matter will be set for a hearing. During the hearing, the court will hear evidence of your reasons why the petitioning party believes their petition should be granted. If the court grants the annulment, the marriage will be considered void. Those with children will also need to develop custody and support terms.

Contact a California Divorce Attorney

The attorneys at the Law Offices of Judy L. Burger are experienced California divorce attorneys who can answer your questions about annulment and other matters. We assist clients along California’s Northern to Southern Coast, including San Francisco, Beverly Hills, Marin, San Jose, Gold River, San Diego, Santa Barbara, Ventura/Oxnard, and surrounding communities. Call us at 415-293-8314 to schedule a private appointment or visit our website.

California Community Property and Business Ownership

California Community Property and Business Ownership

Owning and operating a family business can be a full-time commitment for a married couple. Should the pair decide to divorce, dividing this type of asset and its obligations can be complicated, especially if both parties want to continue running the enterprise. Depending on how and when the business was formed, it may or may not be considered community property. Here is more on understanding California community property and business ownership.

Business Ownership and Community Property

When a California couple forms a business while married, the entity will be considered their jointly owned (community) property. Consequently, if the two divorced, each would be entitled to their half or community ownership interest.

Dividing a Community Property Business

A business that is a community-owned asset can be divided in a number of ways during divorce, such as:

Paying One Spouse—If one spouse wants to continue operating the enterprise, they could pay the other spouse the value of their community share. This may involve making a direct payment or balancing the division of other marital assets to compensate the spouse for their share.

Shared Ownership— When both want to continue operating the business, the spouses could arrange to share ownership of the entity. This may involve one spouse having stock or exclusive authority to manage or make operational decisions.

Selling the Business—The parties may determine that it’s best for them to sell the business. In that case, they can work with their divorce attorneys to determine the most equitable way to sell their enterprise and divide the proceeds.

Close the Business—If the business is not marketable, and one can’t afford to pay the other for their community share, the parties may determine that it is best to divide the remaining obligations and close the enterprise.

Business Ownership and Separate Property

In a California divorce, outside of certain exceptions, assets a spouse acquired before marriage are considered to be their separate property. When a property is determined to be separate, it belongs to the spouse who owned it coming into the marriage and is not subject to division. However, separate property can be transmuted into community property through a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement.

When one spouse owns and operates a separate property business during marriage, the enterprise will remain their asset during divorce. However, the court can examine the other spouse’s community contribution to the business. For instance, if the owner used community funds to improve or market the business or the other spouse worked to support the success and management of the enterprise, the court may determine that the non-owner spouse is entitled to compensation from the community.

Business Valuation and Divorce

Once it has been determined that the business asset is a community or separate property, it will need to be valued. Depending on the circumstances, business valuation during divorce can become complicated and contentious. For example, the spouse who wants to retain the business will often want it to be given a lower estimate. By contrast, the other spouse may contend that the business has a high dollar value. Resolving this kind of disagreement can be challenging.

During a divorce involving a community property business, the each party will hire their own accounting professional to prepare a business valuation.  This type of business valuation will ordinarily involve a review and neutral assessment of the company’s assets and liabilities, accounts payable, inventory, and profitability. Once each party’s valuation is complete, the parties can use the financial data to determine how to equitably divide their respective interest in the business.

Determining how to divide interest in a community property business during divorce can be complex, and it’s essential that you work with an experienced California divorce attorney throughout the process. Your divorce lawyer can help you determine the best way to value all of your marital assets and equitably divide your interest.

Contact an Experienced California Divorce Attorney

The attorneys at the Law Offices of Judy L. Burger are experienced California divorce attorneys who can help you before, during, and after your divorce. We assist clients along California’s Northern to Southern Coast, including San Francisco, Beverly Hills, Marin, San Jose, Gold River, San Diego, Santa Barbara, Ventura/Oxnard, and surrounding communities. Call us at 415-293-8314 to schedule a private appointment or visit our website.