Category Archives: Property Division

Overcoming Common Property Division Obstacles During a Divorce

Overcoming Common Property Division Obstacles During a Divorce

A property division can be fraught with obstacles during a divorce. Partners can accumulate assets of significant value over the years, and dividing them equally is virtually impossible. California Certified Family Law Specialist Judy L. Burger has extensive experience helping divorcing couples divide their property equitably and with the least rancor.

She shares the benefit of her experience in these tips for overcoming common property division obstacles during a divorce.

Common Obstacles to Dividing Property in a Divorce

Divorce can be difficult enough, but adding complex asset divisions into the mix often stretches tempers and emotions to the breaking point. Such divisions are never easy because they involve more than easily sectioned assets. Some of the most common obstacles to dividing property in a divorce include:

  • Family or Jointly-Owned Businesses – Determining who keeps the business, how it is divided, or other related questions is often complex.
  • Common Property—The home and other common property are often a serious point of contention in divorce property divisions.
  • Sentimental Property – A favorite book collection or family heirloom can cause negotiations to reach an impasse.
  • Digital Assets – Music collections and even the right to use online consumer awards can cause a breakdown in property division negotiations.
  • Retirement Benefits—Joint investments and retirement accounts can be real sticking points when determining an equitable property division.
  • Marital Debts – Couples can disagree more about debts than assets, and creating an arrangement to cover debts can be the hardest aspect of a property division.
  • Small Children – Younger children and custody considerations add several layers of additional concerns when dividing assets and marital properties.

Tips for a Smoother Property Division During Divorce

How can you help the property division process go much smoother? Follow these tips:

Don’t Be In a Hurry

Property divisions take time, and more complex assets and issues will require even more. Resolve to be patient and allow the process to play out. Critical factors, such as business valuations, asset valuations, and other processes, require time to be completed. Trust Attorney Judy L. Burger to work diligently with the best resources and leading experts to get the facts you need before serious decisions can be made.

Start With Short-Term Solutions

Begin by keeping things on an even keel. Make sure both households stay afloat for several months. Keep the rent, mortgages, car payments, and other bills current while everything else is being figured out. Focus on caring for yourself and your family, especially if children are involved. Seek amicable arrangements to keep life going steady for a while.

Focus on Needs and Interests, Not Positions

Avoid starting off with solid pronouncements like “I demand the house and the children every weekend.” Focus instead on your needs and interests and those of your family. What does everyone need to live on? How can you maintain a good relationship with the children? How will their needs best be met?

Get Seasoned Legal Guidance

Negotiating the minefields of divorce and property divisions without a seasoned family law attorney is like braving uncharted shoals hidden by large waves – you’re asking for disaster. A Certified Family Law Specialist like Judy Burger has the recognized expertise for navigating complicated divorce negotiations and property divisions.

She can guide the negotiations and offer strategic counsel while representing your interests and those of your children. An experienced third party like her can prevent serious misunderstandings, emotional arguments, and other detriments to a favorable outcome.

CA Divorce & Property Division Guidance

Troublesome relations and complex asset divisions are no problem for Attorney Judy Burger. She has successfully guided numerous complex divorces and property divisions so families can move forward. Contact The Law Offices of Judy L. Burger in California for legal representation, mediation, negotiation, and litigation concerning divorce and complex property divisions.

What Happens If One Party Wants to Keep the Family Residence?

What Happens If One Party Wants to Keep the Family Residence?

Separation and divorce present numerous challenges to both parties. One of the most complex and emotional issues is dividing property. When both spouses have an attachment to the family home, this debate can become heated and fractional. What if one party wants to keep the family residence after a divorce? Or what if both parties wish to keep it and live in it?

California Family Law Specialist Judy L. Burger is well-experienced in Property Division matters relating to divorce. She can work with various specialists to determine the best course of action and your legal rights. Her team can also represent you in property division hearings and other divorce proceedings in the Family Courts when a family residence is in question.

California Property Division Law

California law follows the doctrine of community property in that any debts or assets owned by a married couple are jointly owned (community property). Therefore, each spouse has an equal interest. In a divorce, community property should then be divided 50/50 between the spouses. However, the family home may or may not be considered community property under state law.

The home may be considered community property if:

  • The home was purchased with earnings from both spouses.
  • Both spouses obtained a mortgage for the home while married.
  • Both spouses contributed earnings to pay the mortgage and/or upkeep of the home.

The family residence may be considered separate property if:

  • One spouse already owned the home before marriage.
  • The home was gifted to one spouse before or during the marriage.
  • Only one spouse provided for the mortgage or upkeep of the home.

However, separate and community property can easily become commingled in a marriage. Over time, a married couple can acquire a community interest in the home through numerous actions and investments.

Conversely, other parties can acquire an interest in the home as well. Any mortgage lender you owe will hold an interest. If you jointly own the home with a third party, such as a family home passed down to one spouse but in another person’s name, this person has an interest and legal rights. You may have also used your home as collateral for a business loan. If so, the business in question may have an interest and rights as well.

So, Who Gets the House?

The question of who gets the family residence in a divorce is never simple. As you see above, numerous factors and scenarios can come into play. Separated or divorcing spouses have some options for settling the question:

  • Agreeing on Separate Property: The couple agrees that the home is the separate property of one spouse. This must be verified by a court order to become official.
  • Negotiating a Living Agreement: The couple can agree on who maintains ownership and lives in the house. However, any joint agreement you reach must be ordered by the court to make it official.
  • Spousal Buyout: One spouse agrees to buy out the community property interest of the other spouse. An independent appraisal is necessary and the court must agree to this arrangement.

If the couple cannot agree, the Family Court will turn to California’s property division laws to make orders. In the case of separate property, the home belongs to the spouse who owns it. When the home is declared community property, the court may order the following solutions:

  • Sell the Home: The family home is sold and the proceeds are divided equally among the parties holding an interest or according to the courts division (if any separate property interest is determined).
  • Buyout: One spouse is allowed to purchase the other’s community property interest and becomes the sole owner of the home.
  • Deferred Sale: If a couple has minor children at home, the couple may remain joint owners but allow the custodial parent to live in the home with the children. This can often make a divorce easier on younger children. After a specified time, the home is sold and the proceeds are divided.

Get Seasoned Representation for CA Property Division

Numerous factors can arise in any property division during a divorce, so you need seasoned legal representation and counsel to protect your interests. Family Law Attorney Judy L. Burger is a skilled negotiator and vigorous defender of your rights. She has the knowledge and experience in family law to handle difficult or complex property settlements on your behalf.

Contact one of our offices throughout California today to get help with difficult property division questions in a divorce.

Unique Issues Often Complicate High-Profile Divorces

Unique Issues Often Complicate High-Profile Divorces

Couples in an average marriage face some pretty common issues when they file for divorce. For example, they have to divide their property and debts. If they have children, they must develop a good parenting plan that covers custody and visitation. And, since divorce records are public, friends and family could discover their very private dealings, but it’s unlikely their peccadilloes will hit the news or go viral. High-profile divorces take common issues up a notch or two (or three or four, depending on the couple). Continue reading

In the Best Interests of the Python Pet Custody in a California Divorce

In the Best Interests of the Python: Pet Custody in a California Divorce

As a married couple, Noah and April shared everything – their finances, homes, and friends. They also shared their pet. Desi was a ball python they had raised for more than seven years. Although snakes are not generally considered cuddly pets, both Noah and April loved hanging out with him. But pet custody never entered their minds until they decided to end their marriage. Since they both wanted to keep Desi, deciding what was in the best interests of their python became a major obstacle. Continue reading

3 Types of Separate Property in a California Marriage

3 Types of Separate Property in a California Marriage

When people get married, it’s often said that they are becoming one. Their lives, friends, and family are combined to form their new life. But what about their property? Does one person’s stuff automatically belong to the new spouse? Not necessarily, especially in a community property state like California. Possessions can be considered community (owned by both), separate (owned by one person), or mixed (a little of both). To make things a little more complicated, three types of separate property can exist in a California marriage. Continue reading

QDRO Dividing Retirement Plans During a Divorce

QDRO: Dividing Retirement Plans During a Divorce

Property division is one of the most critical and contentious parts of a divorce. The parties and their attorneys must first identify all assets and debts, then categorize them as marital property or separate property. Some assets might even be a little bit marital and a little bit separate. Investment and retirement accounts can be particularly difficult for people to split up. However, a QDRO takes care of the actual process of dividing retirement plans. Continue reading

Do Movies About Divorce Get It Rightt

Do Movies About Divorce Get It Right?

Be aware that there are spoilers ahead if you have never seen the movies about divorce discussed in this article.

Mrs. Doubtfire – Stability Trumps Whimsy When It Comes to Child Custody and Visitation

This 1993 film starring the late Robin Williams focused on divorce, child custody, and visitation in a poignant yet comical way. As Daniel and Miranda Hillard’s marriage ended, Daniel’s whimsical behavior made him look like an unfit parent. He and his children had a great relationship, but the court granted custody to Miranda. After all, she had a good job and a stable home environment. The court also insisted Daniel clean up his act and limited his access to the kids.

Daniel’s response was to transform himself into an older female character – Mrs. Doubtfire – and get hired to be his own children’s nanny. He and the children became closer until his scheme fell apart, making him look even more unstable. Unlike many movies about divorce, this film ends on a high note. But did the movie makers get it right?

Child custody and visitation are significant points. It seemed the court tried to make decisions that were in the children’s best interests at all times. A stable home life is essential, and Daniel, at first, did not offer this. It made sense to give Miranda full custody and to limit Daniel’s visits. So, it appears that the court did get it right

However, the court may not have considered the children’s feelings on this matter. Although children are not always the best judge of character, Daniel’s kids were close to him and needed to see him. Daniel and Miranda worked out a compromise on visitation that the judge probably would have been approved if included in a California parenting plan.

Kramer vs. Kramer – When Home Away from Home Isn’t Home

This 1979 legal drama is about Ted and Joanna Kramer and their son, Billy. Joanna deserts Billy, leaving him Ted. Unfortunately, she had been Billy’s primary caregiver because of Ted’s high-stress, time-consumer job.

After being gone for more than a year, Joanna returns to divorce Ted and claim custody of Billy., despite Joanna’s abandonment, she won custody of her son.

Joanna prepares an apartment for Billy and then tearfully confesses to Ted that Billy’s true home is with Ted. We don’t see any courtroom scenes as the movie ends soon after, so it’s unsure whether Joanna officially yielded custody or not.

Courts in the 1970s still tended to favor mothers over fathers when it came to custody battles. Movies about divorce did, too. The court here seemed to ignore Joanna’s abandonment and Ted’s stepping up to be a good father to Billy. This may be partly due to something called the “tender years doctrine” that presumed moms should have custody of very young children.

In a California divorce, the courts make custody decisions based on many factors, including what is in the child’s best interests. Abandonment is a serious concern, especially when the child’s other parent is not unfit. A California judge faced with this situation today might have granted sole physical and legal custody to Ted. However, both parents may negotiate a parenting plan and present it to the court for approval.

The War of the Roses – Property Division Can Be a Thorny Issue

This dark comedy shares the story of Oliver and Barbara Rose. During their marriage, they had two children and became very wealthy due to Oliver’s legal career. Finally, though, Barbara confesses she no longer loves Oliver, and they decide to divorce.

The real problems begin when they start splitting up their property. The mansion that Barbara had found and filled with expensive possession became the main point of contention. Barbara kicks Oliver out of the house. Despite his attorney’s advice to compromise, Oliver returns to the home. As their conflict spirals out of control, the couple begins destroying their home, its contents, and eventually each other.

As movies about divorce go, this one captures how personal property division can become to divorcing couples. Sometimes it’s not about the actual property. Instead, personal feelings can get in the way, preventing much-needed compromise.

The best way Oliver and Barbara could have prevented the loss of property and life here would have been to heed the advice of their divorce attorney. Since California is a community property estate, shared assets and debts are split 50-50 with a few exceptions. Attorneys with property division experience could have used California law to help the Roses categorize their property and then amicably divide it.

Movies About Divorce Don’t Always Get It Right. Talk to a California Divorce Attorney About Your Divorce.

The attorneys at the Law Offices of Judy L. Burger are experienced at all phases of divorce, legal separation, and annulment. 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.